Terrestrial Ecosystems: Material from 2010

The ecosystem approach to ecology treats organisms and the physical aspects of their environment as components of a single integrated system. Terrestrial ecosystem functioning is governed by interactions amongst animals, plants and soil organisms, as well as exchanges of energy and resources with the atmosphere, soils, rocks, and aquatic environments. This advanced undergraduate level ecology course is focused on plant-soil interactions as being a central factor in determining the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems around the world. The course will attempt to synthesize recent advances arising from the ecosystem approach with established ecological theory to describe and explain ecosystem-level patterns and processes in the terrestrial environment. Since human activities are now having increasingly pervasive and dominant effects on natural ecosystems, the course will include an examination of global change issues in the context of landscape-level dynamics in space and time, and whole Earth biogeochemistry.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Understand and discuss the major concepts underlying terrestrial ecosystem ecology
  2. Describe and contrast the major processes and features that distinguish local terrestrial ecosystem-types
  3. Present a synthetic, logical and individualistic account of a fundamental issue in terrestrial ecosystem ecology
  4. Develop, conduct, analyse, and write a piece of research that addresses a student-inspired question in terrestrial ecosystem ecology that applies to this region.

Professor: Paul Grogan

Lecture times: Mondays 11.30; Tuesdays 13.30; Thursdays 12.30
Lab times: Alternate Wednesdays: 8.30-11.30; Overnight weekend field course in mid-October
Lab Instructor: Tara Zamin
Location: Room 2111, (Labs 3311) Biosciences building

10% Participation in Discussions
10% Seminar questions
25% Seminar
5% Field trip presentation
25% Research report
25% Final exam

Required textbook: Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. Chapin, F.S. III, Matson, P.A. and Mooney, H.A. Springer.

Sessions are 50 minutes

Schedule below is for the 2010 course and illustrates the basic structure and content of the course


Week Day and time Convenor Topic Reading
13/09/10 Monday, 09.30 Paul Introduction: The Ecosystem Concept Chapin et al, Chapter 1
  Wednesday, 08.30 Paul The Climate System Chapin et al, Chapter 2
  Thursday, 10.30 Paul Discussion Amundsen and Jenny, 1997 (See WEBcT)
20/09/10 Monday, 09.30 Paul Soil Development Chapin et al, Chapter 3
  Tuesday, 14.30   LAB (Field trip to certified organic farm)  
  Wednesday, 08.30 Paul Soil Transformations, and Physical Properties Chapin et al, Chapter 3
  Thursday, 10.30 Paul Visit to Miller Geological museum


27/09/10 Monday, 09.30 Paul Soil Chemical Properties Chapin et al, Chapter 3
  Tuesday, 14.30   LAB (Field project development)  
  Wednesday, 08.30 Paul The Biology of Soils I  
  Thursday, 10.30 Paul The Biology of Soils II Chapin et al, Chapter 7
04/10/10 Monday, 09.30 Paul Seminar and Field trip guidelines  
  Wednesday, 08.30 Paul Decomposition, and Plant-Soil interactions Chapin et al, Chapters 7, 8
  Thursday, 10.30 Paul Trophic dynamics, and Herbivory Chapin et al, Chapter 11
11/10/10 Monday, 09.30   No class - THANKSGIVING  
  Tuesday, 14.30   LAB (Field project development)  
  Wednesday, 08.30   Field trip preparation  
  Thursday, 10.3   Field trip preparation  
16/10/10 Overnight field trip   Field visits to a bog, alvar, coniferous forest, deciduous forest, wetland, and crop rotation agroecosystem  
17/10/10 Overnight field trip   Field research projects  
18/10/10 Monday, 09.30      
  Tuesday, 14.30   LAB (Sample analyses)  
  Wednesday, 08.30 Ali Beamish How will atmospheric N deposition affect C cycling in temperate forests? Nadelhoffer et al, 1999 (See WEBcT)
  Thursday, 10.30 Neil Bodimeade Are some terrestrial ecosystems dependent on each other? Romero et al, 2010 (See WEBcT)
25/10/10 Monday, 09.30   No class  
  Wednesday, 08.30 Emily Stewart How do marine influences affect the biogeochemistry of arctic terrestrial ecosystems? Choy et al, 2010 (See WEBcT)
  Tuesday, 14.30   LAB (Sample processing)  
  Thursday, 10.30 Kelsey Hawke Are keystone species important in nutrient transfers between terrestrial ecosystems? Seagle, 2003 (See WEBcT)
01/11/10 Monday, 09.30 Tomo Nishizawa How should ecologists define boundaries? Cadenasso et a, 1997 (See WEBcT)
  Wednesday, 08.30 Matt Turnbull >How can terrestrial ecosystems be best managed to excise and exclude invasive species Joshi et al, 2006 (See WEBcT)
  Thursday, 10.30 Gaelen Murray Does afforestation on infertile lands enhance soil carbon? Maillard et al, 2010 (See WEBcT)
08/11/10 Monday, 09.30 Nathan Putnam How can soil management contribute to global food security? Feng et al, 2003 (See WEBcT)
  Wednesday, 08.30 Kaitlin Hamel Are beavers essential to successful temperate wetland management? Hood and Bayley, 2008 (See WEBcT)
  Thursday, 10.30 Sharon Zheng Do top-down trophic cascades significantly affect terrestrial ecosystem functioning? Schmitz et al, 2008 (See WEBcT)
15/11/10 Monday, 09.30 Karley Bureau Disturbance effects on ecosystem productivity: Is there an optimum intensity? Wardle et al, 2004 (See WEBcT)
  Tuesday, 14.30   LAB (Data presentations and discussion)  
  Wednesday, 08.30 Alex Henley Which ecosystem properties are most important in determining hydrological 'services' Costello et al, 2008 (See WEBcT)
  Thursday, 10.30 Aaron Tamminga What properties should we use to determine the success of ecosystem conservation efforts Mitrovich, 2009 (See WEBcT)
22/11/10 Monday, 09.30 Trevor Lucas How should deer populations be managed to maintain the ecological integrity of deciduous forests? Reed Rossell et al, 2005 (See WEBcT)
  Wednesday, 08.30 Sarah Farrow What are the ecological challenges of restoring open cast mines, and how can they be best addressed? Mackenzie and Naeth, 2010 (See WEBcT)
  Thursday, 10.30 Laura MacLeod Choudhary and Sar, 2009 (See WEBcT)
29/11/10 Monday, 09.30 Ayla Fenton Climate change: Soil effects on vegetation and vegetation effects on soil - Which are likely to be more important? Kardol et al, 2010 (See WEBcT)
  Wednesday, 08.30 Andrew Proudfoot Which disturbances will most affect deciduous forest soil carbon balance? Oelbermann and Schiff, 2008 (See WEBcT)
  Thursday, 10.30 Paul Synthesis  

Last Updated: 2 July 2014