2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Biology of Ecotones and Extreme Environments: Living on the Edge


Fall 2012 quarter

Amy Cook biology, fish biology , Gerardo Chin-Leo oceanography, marine biology
Fields of Study
biology, ecology and marine science
Preparatory for studies or careers in
ecology, marine biology and resource management.

Boundaries between habitats (ecotones) and extreme environments (temperature, pressure and salinity) often contain diverse and productive ecosystems. This program will explore the physics and chemistry of these environments and examine the organism adaptations and ecological interactions that determine their unique biodiversity and productivity. In addition, we will examine the ecotones and extreme environments created by the expansion of human development into natural ecosystems. An understanding of the structure and function of ecotones and extreme environments can contribute to conservation biology efforts such as the design of parks and reserves and allow us to better understand how human-dominated landscapes influence natural landscapes.

Through lectures, workshops and field activities, students will learn how to identify local plants and animals and will learn about the composition and ecology of several common habitats in the Pacific Northwest including coniferous forest, freshwater stream and nearshore marine. Students will examine the ecotones between these communities by identifying the resident organisms, and describing the physical characteristics of the ecotones and the dynamics of biogeochemical cycles that cross community boundaries. Taking advantage of the Evergreen campus and nearby areas as natural laboratories, we will focus on the following ecotones: intertidal zones, the boundary between freshwater aquatic systems and terrestrial systems, the transition zone between marine and freshwater (estuaries) and the ecotones associated with human-dominated landscapes. In addition, we will examine the ecology of extreme environments such as hydrothermal vents and hypersaline lagoons and the physiological adaptations that organisms have made to live in these environments.

The program will provide students with the opportunity to broaden their understanding of biology and ecology, develop skills in several of the major techniques used in field ecology and improve their writing, quantitative and communication skills.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$50 for a boat-based field trip.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
April 27th, 2012 $50 fee added.