BIO 1500

Basic Life Diversity

Biology is the study of organisms as well as the composition of those organisms.  Whether you have aspirations to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, or a janitor, having an appreciation of the life around you is a critical skill that is invaluable both to yourself and the world around you.  This course is an overview of the diversity of plants and animals.  We study the organisms that represent the variety of life on this planet, examining their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution.  Students learn about the various organisms, their classification, functions, how species come into existence, and their various interactions with each other and the environment. This course is the first of two courses in a two-semester sequence of introductory biology for biology and science majors, including science education and pre-allied health students.  Offered every term; 4 cr.  Taught by DMK: F 2009, W 2011, F 2011, W 2013, F 2015.


BIO 4130

General Ecology (Writing Intensive)

Ecology is a broad, integrative scientific discipline that examines how systems of organisms and the physical environment work; in many cases it examines how organisms interact with each other and with their immediate environment.  This course builds students' understanding of the most fundamental processes that control the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms and ecosystems that occupy terrestrial and aquatic regions of the earth.  We study the physiology of organisms that enables them to inhabit particular environments; populations, especially how organisms interact with each other; and how these interactions control community composition.  In studying interactions, we examine how organism interactions with the physical environment causes energy flow and nutrient cycling within ecosystems, and how these ecosystems form patterns across landscapes and why those patterns are important.  Finally, we examine how humans have and will continue to affect the distribution, abundance, and diversity of organisms and ecosystems on Earth, as well as how humans affect the flow of energy and nutrients in ecological systems.  Offered Winter term; 4 cr.  Taught by DMK: W 2008, W 2009.


BIO 5180

Biology of Trees and Shrubs

This course stresses the identification of trees and shrubs as the basis for the study of their biology and ecology.  The course emphasizes an ecosystem rather than a species approach, in that plants are studied, as much as possible, as they are grouped in thier natural habitats rather than studying a systematic classification of plants based on floral structure and morphology.  Students identify plants nearly entirely in the field during weekly, five-hour field labs in forest ecosystems aross southeastern Michigan.  Plants not native to Michigan are studied on campus and at plantations in southeastern Michigan. Lectures introduce students to the morphology and anatomy of woody plants’ vegetative and reproductive parts; ecological factors of physiography, light, temperature, soil, dormancy and establishment, and succession; and variation, systematics, speciation and hybridization. The major geographical and ecological relationships of woody species in other U.S. forests are also discussed.  Offered irregularly in Fall term; 4 cr.  Taught by DMK: F 2007, F 2008, F 2013.


BIO 5440/7440

Terrestrial Ecology

This course examines the relationships of species to each other and to the places they live, the changes that occur in ecosystems over time, and how terrestrial ecosystems function. We approach terrestrial ecology as an integration of glacial geology, soil science, microclimate, and plant biology, all with a strong emphasis on studying and learning in the field. We sample and study vegetation and soil in the field during weekly, five-hour field labs in multiple ecosystem types in the region.  Students analyze the weekly data they collect.  In all field labs, students will develop the skills to help them interpret the landscape and develop the ability to understand what the ecosystem may have once looked like in the past, what it should resemble in the future, and the area’s underlying ecological principles.  The lecture portion of the course discusses the characteristics of habitat and niches for selected species; regeneration ecology (strategies of reproduction, dispersal, germination, establishment, and growth); competitive and mutualistic relationships; occurrence and diversity, including successional trends related to habitat conditions; and establishment and occurrence of plants in relatively undisturbed and highly disturbed environments. Offered Fall term in even years; 4 cr.  Taught by DMK: F 2010, F 2012, F 2014, F 2016.


BIO 5540/7540

Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology

This course develops the basic principles of two distinct subdisciplines of ecology.  For the first half of the course, we will focus on ecosystem ecology, which investigates the flow of energy and materials through ecosystems and the impacts of the physical and chemical environment on ecosystem functioning.  We provide a general context for ecosystem ecology in terms of the historical development of the field, a conceptual framework, and the environmental factors (e.g., climate and soils) that govern ecosystem processes.  We then discuss the basic mechanisms that drive ecosystem dynamics and describe their temporal and spatial patterns.  The second half of the course turns to landscape ecology, which focuses on the causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity and patterns across a range of scales.  In studying landscape ecology, we synthesize the dominant themes of the field, familiarize students with its current research trends, and explore applications of the landscape approach.  Offered Winter term in even years; 3 cr.  Taught by DMK: W 2010, W 2012, W 2014, W 2016.

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