BIO 182L - Aquatic Field Ecology - Fall 2011

Wednesdays 2:50-4:05 and Fridays 1:15-4:45 
in BioSci 0026 (and we go outside a lot, too)

Welcome to Aquatic Field Ecology – we are going to have a lot of fun this semester as we work to ask and answer questions about aquatic ecosystems. The goal of this class is to learn about aquatic ecosystems by spending time in them, asking questions about them, and attempting to answer those questions through observations and experiments. You will collectively decide what questions are asked and thus there are few assigned readings on the syllabus – we will guide you towards the papers and texts that are relevant to the questions posed in order to help provide context, formulate hypotheses and interpret your results. Our goal is that you will become scientific (or more scientific) in your approach to posing and answering questions about the environment.

Course Goals

This class is designed to train students to think and work as ecologists. In this “ecology immersion” class you will make field observations, formulate hypotheses, design experimental and observational studies, and you will gain skills in organizing, analyzing and presenting scientific results in both oral and written formats. You will also give and receive peer reviews.

Technical skills you'll develop:
    • Literature search and bibliography management 
    • Field methods 
    • Database design and implementation 
    • Statistical and graphical analysis of ecological data 
    • Preparation of presentations and scientific papers 


This course is designed for undergraduates with a wide variety of course and research backgrounds. To enjoy this class it is only necessary that you have:
  1. An enthusiasm for spending time outdoors 
  2. Curiosity about how nature works 
  3. Willingness to collaborate with peers 
  4. An ability to provide and accept peer review 
If you don’t already have some background in the technical skills listed above, you may need to put in some extra effort to come up to speed. We will supply you with lots of good resources and advice for doing so.


Your course grade will be based upon a series of research reports and a final paper and presentation of an independent research project. We will build writing and analysis skills throughout the course and every paper can be resubmitted for a rescoring in response to initial comments and grades. Four small concept mapping and question development assignments will each be worth 2.5% of your final grade