This course, the second in the biology curriculum, introduces students to the biology of the organism. In exploring these vast topics, we focus on selected aspects of the development and the physiology of organisms, using examples primarily from plant and animal kingdoms. In many cases, these distantly related taxa have found stunningly similar strategies for coping with environmental challenges. By understanding commonalities and differences in physiological strategies across taxa, we can more greatly understand our biological heritage and also celebrate innovations in organismal form and function. Students also conduct three guided research projects throughout the course which provides opportunities to build important skills such as experimental design, scientific writing as well as data analysis and interpretation.
Biology/Environmental Science 374- Plants & the Environment
This upper-level elective lab course is focused on the interconnectedness of plants and their environments. The form and function of plants is greatly affected by environmental factors such as water, nutrients and light availability, at the same time though, plants exert a major influence on ecosystem processes such as water and nutrient cycling. In the first two weeks of the class, lectures focus on plant physiology, specifically the ability of plants to convert atmospheric carbon into stored carbon, and the ability of plants to move water and manage water shortages. In week three of the course, students begin to explore topics at a larger scale with an introduction to ecohydrology. At the core of this discipline are questions relating to the effect that biotic elements and processes (largely plant-based components) have on water cycling. Students learn theories underlying this discipline and have the opportunity to learn and practice common techniques used in the field and lab. In addition, students explore how global changes in climate and land use affect water cycling and the role plants can play in mitigating the detrimental effects of climate change in both managed and wild landscapes. Students also undertake guided research projects in urban ecohydrology in collaboration with the City of Lancaster with the goal of improving the ecosystem function of our local environment.
NSP 170 (CBL): Nature in the Urban Environment
In this course students observe, appreciate and begin to understand how elements of nature function within urban landscapes. We study ecological and ecosystem processes in local forested areas and learn strategies employed by urban planners to maximize or manage these processes in cities. Specifically we focus on initiatives in the City of Lancaster to mitigate storm water run-off and the heat island effect. This course includes numerous field trips to local reserves and locations throughout Lancaster and we directly participate in sustainability initiatives underway in the city.
Below are a few photos taken on field trips that were a part of the non-majors course: NSP (CBL) 170 Nature in the Urban Environment