Field Experiments in Ecological Genetics
NEW! Last Updated: 08/10/2009
Faculty: Carri LeRoy ecology
Major areas of study include ecological genetics, ecology, statistics, plant physiology, research in ecological genetics and scientific writing.
Class Standing: Juniors or seniors; transfer students welcome.
Prerequisites: one full year of college biology, college chemistry, and proficiency in algebra.
How are natural systems influenced by diversity at various scales: functional diversity, species diversity, genotypic diversity, genetic diversity? Can fine-scale genetic differences among individuals (e.g., plants, microbes, vertebrates) influence how those organisms interact with other individuals or their surrounding abiotic and biotic environment? What is the relative strength of genetic factors to organize ecological systems? These are some of the questions we will explore in this program.
Specifically, we will use field-intensive ecological methods to explore major questions in the field of ecological genetics. Our work will focus on hands-on field and laboratory research, but we will also critically examine primary literature related to ecological genetics and the book, “A Primer of Ecological Genetics.” We will apply concepts learned through readings to field experiments on-campus, at nearby research stations and on an overnight field trip to established research locations in northern Utah. We will examine the effects of genotypic variation in tree species on tree phenotypes: leaf-level photosynthesis, specific leaf area, shoot growth, tree growth, root production, and phytochemistry. We will then examine how these plant traits affect leaf-modifying herbivore communities, bird predation on canopy arthropods, soil respiration, leaf decomposition and mycorrhizal symbionts.
Major assignments will require critical reading of primary scientific articles and the creation of annotated bibliographies. To stress the importance of critically reading primary literature, we will dedicate two, 3-hour seminars per week to student-led discussions of primary literature. Students will learn basic parametric and non-parametric statistics for the purposes of analyzing ecological data. Students will collaborate on research projects, each taking a “lead author” role on one field/lab project and organizing collaborators to complete the research and write a final paper in scientific journal format. Students will come away from this program with a realistic perspective of field and laboratory ecology and a solid foundation in the emerging field of ecological genetics.
Up to 16 credits of upper-division science in college-level field ecology, ecological genetics, scientific writing, and statistics may be earned by students with appropriate background and strong performance. Students not meeting these standards will be awarded up to 16 lower-division credits.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Special Expenses: $300 to cover travel and expenses for an overnight field trip
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in biology, ecology, environmental science, science, and botany.
Planning Units: Environmental Studies
|August 10th, 2009||New program posted.|