Course Description: Ecology (NR 321, fall, spring, and summer semesters, 3 credits)
  Fundamental principles of ecology. Major topics covered by the course include the physical environment, how organisms interact with each other and their environment, evolutionary processes, population dynamics, communities, energy flow and ecosystems, human influences on ecosystems, and the integration and scaling of ecological processes through systems ecology. Computer-based materials are used extensively for guided independent learning in this course.
 
Recommended preparation: Introductory botany & zoology
Prerequisites: Introductory biology, or permission.
This online course is designed for highly motivated students who can study independently. Carefully review the course guidelines before registering for this course.

 

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The physical environment
An introduction to the major environmental factors that affect organisms, including solar and terrestrial radiation, energy balance, temperature, water, wind, and climate.

 

The response of individual organisms to their environment
Topics on how organisms interact with various environmental factors, including discussions on individual acclimation and species adaptation to the environment.

 

The nature of species, adaptation, and population dynamics
This section includes discussions on ecotypes, species, and populations, including the structure and growth of populations, interactions among species, and models of population fluctuations.
Communities and ecosystems
These major sections cover the major theories of communities and succession, and the structure and function of ecosystems. Topics of discussion include community structure and distribution in nature, energy flow and global mineral cycles, a review of world ecosystems, and human influences on ecosystems.