FALL 1995, 3 credits

Dr. C. S. Holling


Wednesday 2-4th Period (8:30-11:30am) BAR 110

Thursday 7th Period (1:55-2:45pm) BAR 110

Accelerating global changes -from climate change to species extinction- have made spatial and time dynamics of biophysical systems a central issue for modern science. This course will evaluate how knowledge of scale specific areas of biology (such as behavioral ecology, community ecology, ecosystem science, landscape ecology and paleoecology) can be integrated across scales so that we can begin to understand how momentary and local events can cascade to generate long term and global changes.

We will explore a maturing body of theory, concepts, methods and examples that is contributing to the development of a science of biosphere change. The critical theories and concepts come from recent understanding of hierarchical organization, of thermodynamics, of dynamic chaotic behavior and of patch dynamics. The critical methods include emerging techniques for spatial analysis as well as more traditional methods of time series analysis and simulation modelling. The critical examples are providing understanding of the way biophysical processes affect the establishment, regulation and disturbance of forests, grasslands, wetlands and crops at different scales in space and time. Particular emphasis will be given to spatial processes - not only fire, water and wind, but those mediated by animal movements as well.

We will develop a class project applying cross-scale analysis to biodiversity - the function of different kinds of diversity and the significance of loss of biodiversity.

The course will operate as an interdisciplinary effort to integrate knowledge. It is not a methods course. Hence students from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to participate - e.g. botany, engineering, geography, geology, mathematics, any of the resource sciences, zoology etc. A quantitative background is useful but not essential. Simply bring the skills and knowledge of your own discipline. The course will be organized as a series of lectures and discussions in the first third of the course, seminars and research planning in the second third and student seminars and small-group projects in the last third.

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Copyright Last modified: June 15 1995