Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Lab

Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Lab

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Terrestrial Ecosystems: Material from Winter 2019

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 fundamental determinant of the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems around the world. As a group, we 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.

The course content for the 2019 iteration will be centered on identifying, critiquing, and applying terrestrial ecosystem ecological concepts to address the following thematic question:  What fundamentally distinctive concepts does ecosystem-level ecology provide that are essential in understanding ‘global planetary boundaries’ and our future sustainability?

Learning outcomes:

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

  1. Explain and evaluate the major concepts in terrestrial ecosystem ecology that distinguish it from lower hierarchical levels such as community and population ecology
  2. Describe and contrast the major processes and features that distinguish local terrestrial ecosystem-types with special emphasis on the winter season
  3. Search, critically assess, and synthesize primary and secondary literature in the natural sciences
  4. Present a synthetic, logical, and individualistic seminar on a fundamental conceptual issue in terrestrial ecosystem ecology
  5. Develop, conduct, and analyse an experimental research study on some aspect of plant-soil relationships that affects ecosystem functioning
  6. Develop an original, cohesive, synthesis essay on the distinctive concepts of ecosystem-level ecology that are fundamentally necessary to understand global planetary boundaries and our future sustainability.

Professor: Paul Grogan

Lecture times: Mondays 10.00-11.30; Wednesdays 8.30-10.00
Lab/field trip times: Mondays: 2.30-5.30; Saturday field trip in February
Lab Instructor: Mike Lavender (E-mail: mike.lavender@queensu.ca; Office: Room 4231)
Location: Room 3110, (Labs 3311) Biosciences building

Assessment:

15% Participation in discussions
15% Seminar questions
25% Seminar
15% Research presentation
30% Final essay

Required textbook: Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. 2011. 2nd edition. Chapin, F.S. III, Matson, P.A. and Vitousek, P. Springer.

Schedule (to be updated throughout the course): 

Lecture/Seminar sessions are 80 minutes; Labs up to 3 hours

Week beginning

Day and time

Convenor

Topic

Reading

7 January

Monday, 10.00

Paul

Introduction to the course

 

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

   

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Paul

The Ecosystem Concept

Chapin et al, Chapter 1: 1-12,17-22.

14 January

Monday, 10.00

Paul

The State Factor Framework for understanding Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology and Soil Development 

Chapin et al, Chapter 1: 13-17; Chapter 2: 23-26, 38-41, 50-61

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

Mike/Paul

Research experiment set-up; Tour of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology lab

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Paul

Soil Development continued

Chapter 3: 63-69.

21 January

Monday, 10.00

Paul

Soil Development continued

Chapter 3: 63-69.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Paul

Soil Types, Transformations, and Physical Properties 

Chapin et al, Chapter 3: 73-78, 82-85.

28 January

Monday, 10.00

Paul

Soil Chemical Properties 

Chapin et al, Ch. 3: 86-89; Ch. 7: 204-206; Ch. 9: 287-290; 293-296.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Trip to Miller Hall Geological Museum; Soil processing and root washing

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Paul

The Biology of Soils I

Chapin et al, Chapter 7: 183-190; 243-244; Chapter 9: 271-280 (overview).

4 February

Monday, 10.00

Paul

The Biology of Soils II

Chapin et al, Chapter 7: 183-194; Chapter 11: 321-324; 334-335.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Compost investigation; Snow-soil interactions tutorial; Soil processing and root washing

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Paul

Decomposition, and Plant-Soil interactions

Chapin et al, Chapter 7: 190-204; Chapter 8: 229-233, 238-241, 253-255.

9 February

Saturday>

 

Field trip: Phosphorus and organic matter recovery at the Ravensview wastewater treatment plant; Two ecosystem experimental sites near Q.U.B.S. (Stokes Atm. N deposition, Pangman Deer exclosures); Succession processes within ecosystems (Lemoine Point Conserv. Area).

 

11 February

Monday, 10.00

Qian Gu

Guest lecture – Ecological Stoichiometry: Principles and Applications in an Arctic Terrestrial Ecosystem

 

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Mycorrhizal staining

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Leah Gotkin

What are the most significant impacts on ecosystem services of biodiversity loss due to industrial agriculture?

Tilman et al, 2001. Forecasting Agriculturally
Driven Global Environmental
Change. Science (292): 281-284.

18 February

READING WEEK

 

 

 

 

READING WEEK

 

 

 

 

READING WEEK

 

 

 

25 February

Monday, 10.00

Andreea Bosorogan and Casey Neff

Several diverse factors make invasive species successful - To what extent are their impacts on soil microbial communities critical?

Batten et al, 2006. Two Invasive Plants Alter Soil Microbial Community Composition in Serpentine Grasslands. Biological Invasions 8: 217–230.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Mycorrhizal staining

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Hayley Brackenridge and Cassandra Pereira

At the soil microbial level, do individual species matter?

Strickland et al, 2009. Testing the functional significance
of microbial community composition. Ecology 90(2): 441–451.

4 March

Monday, 10.00

Tharshni Jeevaratnam and Hailey Green

What are the most interesting ways predation affects trophic dynamics? 

Monterroso et al, 2016. Disease-mediated bottom-up regulation: An emergent virus
affects a keystone prey, and alters
the dynamics of trophic webs.  Scientific Reports 6:36072.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Mycorrhizal staining

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Kristen Panetta and Lucia Park

Species biodiversity - is it too late to prevent the sixth mass extinction? 

Ceballos et al, 2015. Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction.
Science Advances 1(5): e1400253

11 March

Monday, 10.00

Adrian Kuchtaruk and Adam Binhammer

What criteria determine when an ecosystem’s resilience can’t maintain its stability in response to climate change?

 Isbell et al, 2015. Biodiversity increases the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate extremes. Nature (526): 574-579.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Mycorrhizal counting

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Vivian Li and Natalie Janssen

Do top-down or bottom-up controls have a more significant impact on arctic ecosystem productivity?

Gough et al, 2012. Above- and belowground responses of arctic tundra ecosystems to altered soil nutrients and herbivory. Ecology 93(7):1683-1694.

18 March

Monday, 10.00

Joanna Strozak and Mitchell Bierd

To what extent do differences in dominant mycorrhizal types affect the abilities of terrestrial ecosystems to respond to environmental change?

Phillips et al., 2013. The mycorrhizal-associated nutrient economy: a new framework for predicting carbon-nutrient couplings in temperate forests. New Phytologist 199: 41-51.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Mycorrhizal counting

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Christine Yim and Liam Joiner

Are global planetary boundaries applicable at the ecosystem level in promoting sustainable development? Why or why not?

(Essay outline hardcopies due before class)

 Carpenter et al., 2015. Allowing variance may enlarge safe operating space for exploited ecosystems. PNAS 112(46): 14384-14389

25 March

Monday, 10.00

 

Essay preparation – no class

 

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Research experiment - data finalisation

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

 

Essay preparation – no class

 

1 April

Monday, 10.00

Paul

Sustaining socio-ecological systems

Chapin et al, Chapter 15, 423-446.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB

 

Research experiment study results - Discussion

 

 

Wednesday, 08.30

Paul

Synthesis

 

Winter 2019 Class photo
Class of Winter 2019! Back row: Moi, Hayley Brackenridge, Natalie Janssen, Adrian Kuchtaruk, The inimitable Karoun Kashikjian, Kristen Panetta, Tharshni Jeevaratnam, Liam Joiner, Mike Lavender (Teaching Assistant), Mitchell Bierd. Front row: Vivian Lee, Andreea Bosorogan, Leah Gotkin, Joanna Strozak, Christine Yim, and Lucia Park. Cassandra Pereira, Adam Binhammer, Casey Neff and Hailey Green were not present for the above photo.
 
Whiteboard displaying topics/themes of the course
What are the major issues associated with implementing the 'Ecosystem Stewardship' concept?

Last Updated: 30 July 2019