Rocky Mountain Ecosystems

 

Instructor: Dr. Scott Solomon, Rice University

Course Description: In this field-based course you will explore mountain ecosystems as a scientist. Learn to identify and study the characteristic flora and fauna of a variety of Rocky Mountain ecosystems, both aquatic and terrestrial, by visiting the diverse ecosystems that surround RMBL. The course is designed around a series of guided field studies along the elevational gradient from low sagebrush grasslands and rocky outcroppings to montane meadows, willow-lined streams, and aspen forests all the way up to the highest elevation subalpine spruce-fir forests and alpine tundra. Additional classroom work and assignments will train you to read and discuss scientific literature, formulate and test hypotheses in the field, analyze and interpret data, and present scientific results.

 

Course Objectives: Students will….

Explore the diverse mountain ecosystems surrounding RMBL;

Learn the skills necessary to systematically survey, collect, and identify the characteristic flora and fauna of the major mountain ecosystems;

Relate elevational patterns of species distributions to biotic and abiotic factors;

Learn to formulate ecological questions, practice the methods and analyses used in ecological field research, and discuss and communicate scientific ideas.

Textbooks: There is no formal textbook for this class.

Equipment: Daypack, field journal, pencils, water bottle(s), sweater/fleece, waterproof shell, spare hiking socks, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, hiking boots, and binoculars (optional). You are responsible for making yourself comfortable in the outdoors.

Course Schedule:  This course will usually meet two days per week from mid-June to early July.

Prerequisites: None

RMBL Community Members may sit in on any given course session, with advance permission from the instructor and space permitting.

Field Ecol Class
Students Learn to Trap Ground Squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis).
Photo by Dr. Emily Mooney