Learn more about the teaching faculty here.
AEC 245: Global Conservation Ecology
This course provides an introduction to the scientific principles and concepts that are the foundation of conservation science, with a particular focus on the ways in which justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion shape human relationships with nature. A diversity of topics will be covered, including 1) environmental and anthropomorphic pressures that threaten populations and ecosystems, 2) the importance of biotic and abiotic interactions for stability and resilience, 3) combining ecological theory with empirical data and community engagement to protect, preserve, and restore endangered species and ecosystems. Students will build on their conceptual, analytical, and communication skills and practice real-world decision making through collaborative research projects, in which they will gather data and apply their findings to develop measurable conservation outcomes. This course satisfies Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Global Knowledge requirements for General Education.
AEC 360: Ecology
Ecology elucidates both the relationships between organisms and their environment, and the relationships among organisms. An understanding of ecology enables us to better understand how living organisms function and evolve within the context of the natural world. In this course, ecology is presented as a coherent scientific discipline; emphasis is on ecology as distinct from environmental science.
AEC 370 Parasite & Disease Ecology
Parasite and Disease Ecology is designed to help upper-level undergraduate students develop the tools to solve problems and think critically about topics related to parasites and infectious diseases. By the end of the course, students will be able to summarize how abiotic and biotic factors influence host–parasite interactions; predict how parasites will spread through host populations; explain how parasites are connected within broader ecological communities and ecosystems; and apply their knowledge of disease ecology theory to case studies to recommend effective conservation and human health solutions. Throughout this course, students will also advance their abilities to find and evaluate scientific evidence, interpret figures, analyze data, simulate dynamic ecological systems, collaborate with peers, and communicate ideas and scientific results. The knowledge and skills developed in this class would be beneficial in future careers in ecology, conservation, human or veterinary medicine, public health, science communication, and more. Optional 1-credit lab, AEC 371.
AEC 371 Parasite & Disease Ecology – Laboratory (optional)
This optional 1-credit laboratory section can be taken concurrently with AEC 370 Parasite and Disease Ecology. This laboratory is designed to provide research experience related to parasites and infectious diseases to upper-level undergraduate students. Depending on the semester, research projects may focus on surveying wild hosts, dissecting roadkill, or analyzing existing datasets. By the end of the course, students will be able to evaluate and synthesize scientific literature related to parasites and infectious diseases; develop testable scientific hypotheses; design observational studies related to parasites and disease in wild animals; collect parasitological and ecological data from wildlife; create effective data visualizations; and communicate the results of scientific research.
AEC 384: Tropical Ecology in a Changing World
The tropics have attracted the attention of scientists for a long time and tropical studies have helped advance our understanding of ecology and ecological theories. This course will focus on understanding tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity, and complexity. Students will learn about major ecosystem types and their characteristics. We will discuss major tropical contributions to ecology and ecological theories. In addition, we will study how global change is affecting the tropics and the potential consequences. Students will gain a general understanding of tropical ecology in a changing world.
AEC 390: Community Ecology
This course explores the various mechanisms structuring ecological communities. The course builds on community ecology topics introduced in other courses, by providing an advanced understanding of the theoretical and quantitative nature of community ecology. Topics covered include two-species interactions (e.g. predation, competition, parasitism, mutualisms), multispecies interactions, food webs and ecological networks, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, estimation of and regulation of species diversity at ecological and evolutionary time scales, community succession, and biogeography. Emphasis will be on concepts and theory, quantitative and mathematical models, experimental and other empirical approaches, and hands-on use of data and computer software to further understanding and applications of community ecology.
AEC 419: Freshwater Ecology
M 1:30-4:15PM, TR 1:30-2:45PM
The course explores the structure and function of streams, lakes, and wetlands, including physical, chemical and biological controls of productivity and species composition of aquatic plants and animals and effects of pollution on organisms and water quality. The laboratory emphasizes modern, hands-on techniques for field collecting physical, chemical and organismal samples to answer fundamental and applied questions. Credit in both AEC 419 and AEC 519 is not allowed.
AEC 420: Introduction to Fisheries Science
This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of fisheries science. Class material will focus on the role of fish in aquatic ecosystems and will cover concepts including life history, fish-habitat relationships, fisheries management, and conservation. Emphasis will be on freshwater ecosystems, however by the end of the semester students will have a better understanding of all these concepts across various systems and geographical regions.
AEC 424: Marine Fisheries Ecology
This course is part of the semester at CMAST program and requires students to be on site in Morehead City, NC. The course covers the life history, stock concept, fishing gears, stock assessment approaches, fish-habitat relationship, socio-economics, and management of marine fishes. Several field trips to state and federal agency laboratories and fish houses/docks are used to emphasize fish sampling, biological sample processing, and gear design.
AEC 495: Gut Microbial Ecology (*Note: the course number may change)
M 10:15AM-12:05PM, W 10:15AM-1:00PM
Gut microbiome research has expanded exponentially in recent years, with rapidly accumulating implications for understanding host-microbial relationships and what constitutes health and disease. As such, the field is highly relevant to both basic science and medical careers. However, the interdisciplinary nature of the microbiome—as well as advances in sequencing technology and analytical methods—requires that scientists achieve a firm grasp of methodological principles, analyze large data sets, and evaluate the results judiciously. In this course we will analyze and compare data from human, clinical, and comparative/wildlife studies to synthesize a holistic understanding of the relationship between mammals and their gut microbes and identify lifestyle practices to leverage the gut microbiome for optimal health.