Course Description

420.626 - Field Methods in Ecology

This course centers on practical field exercises to develop both technical proficiency and broader understanding of varied ecological systems. Field methods include quadrate, transect, and SAV sampling as well as multiple techniques for surveying animal communities and monitoring water quality. While analyzing their own data, students develop deeper understanding of fundamental concepts such as species-area curves, importance values, species diversity, and community similarity indices. Students also are introduced to paleoecological tools such as sediment coring. Several ecological processes including succession and the effect of disturbances on community structure are demonstrated. The significance, advantages, and disadvantages of various surveying methods are explored in classroom meetings, but for much of the course students conduct their studies in the forests, fields, and wetlands of the area. This course is offered onsite only with fieldwork scheduled for a succession of Saturdays; some sections may conduct field trips on one or two Fridays and/or Sundays. Offered most summers. Prerequisite: 420.611 Principles and Methods of Ecology, equivalent course, or experience