Ecology and the Environment*
*Required for biology and environmental studies majors

Professor Mary Heskel and Professor Christine O’Connell 

Why should I take this course? In the 21st century, ecosystems are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. In this class, we explore these impacts on different scales of life and what this means for people and systems all over the world. 

We’ll examine ecology through four conceptual ‘lenses’—climate change, environmental justice, land use, and ecosystem services—to gain critical insight into how scientists, policymakers, land managers, and other stakeholders evaluate complex ecological and environmental systems.

Selected text:  Ecology, 4th edition, Bowman, Hacker, Cain, editors

Pro tip: Science requires a balance of courage and humility—this is as true for undergraduates as it is for researchers at leading institutions. It’s a process of realizing you don’t have all the answers, seeking information from other sources, and developing new questions to build on existing experience. 

Fun fact: Plants are made from air! 

Fun fact 2: Agriculture covers ~40 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial ice-free surface, making it the most extensive way that humans have altered the face of our planet.

An even more fun fact: In Yasuni National Park, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, there is a 25-hectare research forest plot (about 46 football fields in size) that has ~1,100 tree species within its boundaries–that’s more tree species than can be found in all of the US and Canada combined, in a single research plot! Perhaps the most biodiverse area within the Amazon, which is itself the planet’s most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystem.

October 29 2020

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