Animal Defense

This course examines the evolution, morphology, physiology, and behavior of biological defense mechanisms. From spines to chemicals to crypsis we take an in-depth look at the range in biological defense mechanisms and how scientists study and learn about them. We will first explore concepts surrounding natural selection and evolution to establish how defense mechanisms evolved across the tree of life, leading to evolutionary arms races. Then we will establish how predators search, identify, and capture prey items through establishing fundamentals in sensory biology.

Being Social

Why are so many animals social? Why is there so much variance in social behavior across the animal kingdom? And what good is being social anyway? In this course, we will learn about the ecology and evolution of key social behaviors – such as fighting, finding a mate, dominance hierarchies, and cooperation – to understand how these behaviors evolved and how they function. This course will incorporate discussion, lecture, activities, writing, and running short experiments.

Wetland Ecology

Wetlands are some of the most highly protected ecosystems in the world and for good reason. There are numerous ways that wetlands benefit society, including providing wildlife habitat, pollution filtration, shoreline protection, and carbon sequestration. In this course, we will examine the physical, chemical and biological components of wetlands and their ecological processes. Course material draws mainly from primary literature, including seminal papers of wetland ecology and novel research in the field.

Oceans and Health

Focus on the concept of “One Health” that the health of the environment and the people who live in it are linked. The basis (from a biological perspective) of threats facing the marine environment and interactions between environmental and human health and their role in global health disparities. For example, in discussing fisheries and aquaculture, the course will cover environmental impacts of these extractive industries and their importance in human and societal well-being.

Readings in Plant Ecophysiology

Ecophysiology studies the adaptation of organism’s physiology to its environment and provides a mechanistic framework for understanding how species respond to changing environments and how species interact with each other. As such, it plays a central role in understanding how organisms might respond to global change. This course will explore current topics in plant ecology by reading and discussing recent papers from the scientific literature. Previous coursework in either ecology or physiology or approval of the instructor is required.

Functional Ecology of Plants

This course is designed for graduate and undergraduate students with interest in plant functional ecology. We explore how (woody) plants function and respond to changing climate. We focus on plant functional traits (e.g., leaf properties, wood density, maximum height) and the main tradeoffs controlling plant form and function in various environments. Instructor: Palmroth, Domec

Oceans and Health

Students will gain a grounding in marine sciences which will help them to evaluate impacts of anthropogenic activities on both marine ecosystems and the humans that rely on them. After developing an understanding of the issues facing environmental and human health and well-being in marine systems, students will travel to Duke Kunshan University in China, to better understand environmental challenges facing a rapidly developing economy.

Ecology of Human Health

Humans are the dominant species on Earth and ecology is key to understanding the multiple feedbacks through which their activities affect human health. Fundamental principles of ecology, from population to ecosystem levels, will be examined through the lens of human health. Topics include human population growth and carrying capacity, why we age, infectious disease dynamics, the microbiome and human health, sustainable agriculture and food security, sustainable harvest of wild foods, dynamics of pollutants in food webs, ecosystem services to humans, and human impacts of climate change.

Marine Ecology of the Pacific

Ecology of the rocky intertidal, kelp forest, and mud flat habitats. Introduction to marine mammals, fish and other large West Coast vertebrates. Taught in Beaufort, with preparation for fieldwork before and analysis and presentation of projects after required one-week intensive field experience on the coast of Northern California. Prerequisite: Introductory course in Biology or Environmental Science and consent of instructor. Instructor: Johnson