2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Temperate Rainforests: Ecology and Biogeochemistry


Fall 2011 quarter

Paul Butler geology, hydrology, earth science , Dylan Fischer forest ecology
Fields of Study
biology, chemistry, ecology, environmental studies and geology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
forest ecology, chemistry, geology and field research.
Students must have at least one full year of organismal biology and at least two quarters of chemistry.

Temperate rainforests are poorly understood and highly valued ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest and other coastal landscapes around the world. This type of ecosystem supports complex interactions among constituents of the atmosphere, the forest and the underlying geology. By focusing on the biogeochemistry and nutrient cycling of the forest, we will understand the interplay between the biotic and abiotic components of these ecosystems. We will examine the pools and fluxes of organic and inorganic nutrients as well as the processes that link them.

We will examine forest ecosystem science in temperate rainforests worldwide, and our lectures and field labs will emphasize the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, with a three-day field trip at the beginning of the quarter. Students will gain field experience with group independent studies on campus and at remote sites. Students will acquire experience with various sampling techniques that are used measure nitrogen, water, and carbon in forested ecosystems in a single, intensive, multiple-week lab exercise on forest biogeochemistry. Weekly seminars will focus on reading a major forest-ecology textbook and and understanding scientific articles from the primary literature. Each student will develop a scientific research proposal throughout the quarter that requires the development of research and quantitative skills. Finally, controversy over forest management is an integral component of human interactions with modern temperate rainforests. We will explore current and past controversies in forest ecology related to old-growth forests, spotted owls and other endangered species, sustainable forestry, and biofuels. We will also visit local second growth forests to examine the impacts of sustainable forest management on temperate rainforest ecosystems. Readings and guest lectures will introduce students to major ecological issues for temperate rainforests.

Online Learning
No Required Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$300 for two three-day field trips to the Olympic mountains (early Fall) and FJ Andrews Experimental Forest (late Fall).
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 5th, 2011 Description has been updated.
May 2nd, 2011 Signature requirement has been removed.
March 15th, 2011 This program will now be taught by Dylan Fischer and Paul Butler.