Courses

All undergraduate and graduate course offerings, current and previous, are listed below with faculty contact information.

Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2020

AEC 295: Global Conservation Ecology

T/R 1:30-2:45pm
106 Scott Hall

This course provides an introduction to the scientific principles and concepts that are the foundation of conservation biology. A diversity of topics will be covered, including 1) causes of extinction, 2) the impacts of habitat fragmentation, small population sizes, and exotic species, 3) evidence based nature preserve and corridor design, and strategies for protecting and restoring endangered species and ecosystems.  Students will build on their conceptual and analytical skills and gain real-world decision making through collaborative research projects, in which they will gather data and apply their findings to develop climate-smart conservation approaches.

Contact Dr. Erin McKenney: eamckenn@ncsu.edu


AEC 360: Ecology

4 credits
M/W/F 9:35-10:25am
287 David Clark Labs, 232A Withers Hall

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.

Contact Dr. Alonzo Ramirez: laramir2@ncsu.edu


AEC 419: Freshwater Ecology

4 credits
T/R 1:30-2:45pm
623 Dabney Hall

Come learn what lies beneath the surface of the earth’s greatest resource – freshwater ecosystems! Learn about: invertebrates that attract fish with lures; how fish odor affects whole ecosystems; killer lakes; how streams feed the forest trees and animals; nutrients spiral downstream; climate change effects on fish and food webs; water-borne and aquatic insect vectored diseases; myriad sources and impacts of pollution in freshwaters, and some true fish stories!  Students will develop a mastery of the ecological, biological, physical, and chemical properties of freshwater ecosystems (e.g., lakes, streams and wetlands), and will gain hands-on experience with techniques used in freshwater research. The laboratory will develop students field research skills including sampling techniques, field experiments, quantitative aspects of analyzing data with statistics, writing, and graphing data through hands-on lab and field projects co-developed by students and the instructor.

Contact Dr. Brad Taylor: bwtaylo3@ncsu.edu


AEC 420: Introduction to Fisheries Science

3 credits
M 1:30pm-4:15pm, T 8:30-11:15am
283 David Clark Labs

Role of fish in aquatic ecosystems, fish biology, fish ecology, fisheries management and conservation. Emphasis on aquatic ecosystems and food webs, life history and ecology of important sport and commercial fishes, population and community dynamics, and theory and practice of fisheries management and conservation. Case studies from freshwater, estuarine and marine systems.

Contact Dr. Jesse Fischer: jrfische@ncsu.edu


AEC 495.004: Marine Fisheries Ecology

T/R 1:30-2:45pm
CMAST (Offsite Class in Morehead City)

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.

Contact Dr. Jeff Buckel: jabuckel@ncsu.edu


AEC 495.006: Biology, Diversity, and Ecology of Algae

3 credits
T 4:30-5:20pm (lecture), R 4:30-7:15pm (lab)
283 David Clark Labs

This course covers the biology, diversity, and ecology of the amazing group known as algae, which form the foundation of aquatic food webs from freshwaters and estuaries to marine coasts. It begins with an overview of the many economic uses of algae in everyday living, the history of this broad topic, and key characteristics used to identify algae at the phylum level. The major phyla are then discussed in more detail, emphasizing both ecological and economic importance.  Laboratories mostly focus at the genus level or higher, and include three field laboratories designed to showcase these fascinating organisms in their many natural habitats.

Contact Dr. Joann Burkholder: jburk@ncsu.edu


AEC 495.008: Practical Tools to Communicate Science

1 credit
T 1:55-2:45pm
283 David Clark Labs

A critical human dimension to all sciences is effective communication.  Students can expect to learn practical science communication tools and apply them to a variety of media while gaining experience creating pieces for real-world challenges.

Contact Michelle Jewell: majewell@nccsu.edu


AEC 495.014: Community Ecology

T/R 8:30-9:45am
1206 Nelson Hall

This course explores the mechanisms structuring ecological communities. Topics covered include two‐species interactions, multi-species interactions, ecological networks, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, estimation of and regulation of species diversity, 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 sets and computer software to address questions in community ecology.

Contact Dr. Brad Taylor: bwtaylo3@ncsu.edu


AEC 495.015: Tropical Ecology in a Changing World

T/R 10:15 – 11:30am
102 David Clark Labs

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.

Contact Dr. Alonzo Ramirez: laramir2@ncsu.edu

Graduate Courses, Spring 2020

AEC 501 Ornithology

4 credits
MW 8:30-9:45am, F 8:30-11:15am
102 David Clark Labs, 282 David Clark Labs

Preqs.: ZO 201 or 303; BO 360 or ZO260

The biology of birds, including evolution, functional morphology, physiology, ecology and behavior. Field and museum laboratories emphasize particular aspects of morphology, ecology and behavior, as well as taxonomy and identification. One coastal weekend field trip required. Our goal for this course is to build a foundation of knowledge about birds in a way that will stimulate you to keep learning about them for the rest of your life. Our approach will be to focus primarily on the behavior and ecology of birds and the development of field skills. Lectures will amplify material from the text Ornithology, Third Edition, by Frank B. Gill as well as outside readings and examples from the instructors’ personal research.

Contact Dr. Ted Simons: simons@ncsu.edu


AEC 502: Introduction to Biological Research

2 credits
W 12:50-2:40pm
139 David Clark Labs

The course provides a suite of tools to succeed in and beyond graduate school. After orienting to the general logistics and expectations associated with a graduate program, we  transition to practical aspects of ecology including a focus on grant proposal development, how to read and review papers and grant proposals, and how to give a presentation at a scientific meeting. A series of outside speakers will provide a broad perspective on the resources and opportunities available for graduate students at North Carolina State University. An emphasis will be placed on peer collaboration and feedback, developing professional relationships that will be important throughout the graduate tenor of this cohort of students.

Contact Dr. Erin McKenney: eamckenn@ncsu.edu


AEC 503: Foundations of Ecology

2 credits
M 9:35-11:25am
139 David Clark Labs

This course will introduce graduate students to the major concepts and theories in ecology.  We will cover population, community, ecosystem, and evolutionary ecology. Students will critically evaluate classic and contemporary papers.  This class will also help participants prepare for their written and oral preliminary exams. Remote participation via zoom/google hangouts is possible with permission by instructor.

Contact Dr. Rebecca Irwin: reirwin@ncsu.edu 


AEC 519: Freshwater Ecology

4 credits
M 1:30pm – 4:15pm, T/R: 1:30-2:45pm
623 Dabney Hall

Come learn what lies beneath the surface of the earth’s greatest resource – freshwater ecosystems! Learn about: invertebrates that attract fish with lures; how fish odor affects whole ecosystems; killer lakes; how streams feed the forest trees and animals; nutrients spiral downstream; climate change effects on fish and food webs; water-borne and aquatic insect vectored diseases; myriad sources and impacts of pollution in freshwaters, and some true fish stories!  Students will develop a mastery of the ecological, biological, physical, and chemical properties of freshwater ecosystems (e.g., lakes, streams and wetlands), and will gain hands-on experience with techniques used in freshwater research. The laboratory will develop students field research skills including sampling techniques, field experiments, quantitative aspects of analyzing data with statistics, writing, and graphing data through hands-on lab and field projects co-developed by students and the instructor.

Contact Dr. Brad Taylor: bwtaylo3@ncsu.edu


AEC 592.001: Fish Population Dynamics

W 9:35am-12:20pm
Offsite @ CMAST

This course is designed to introduce graduate students quantitative fish population dynamics. Students will learn how to use appropriate quantitative methods in analyzing data collected from fisheries, to estimate vital parameters for fisheries, to describe quantitatively the dynamics of fish population, to evaluate current status of a fishery and alternative management strategies through formal stock assessment process, and to understand and interpret uncertainties associated with the assessment in managing fisheries resources.

Contact Dr. Jie Cao: jcao22@ncsu.edu


AEC 592.007: Bayesian Population Analysis

W 3:00-4:50pm
Offsite @ CMAST

The goal of this class is to provide practical experience and a deeper understanding of methods for population analysis. Methods will include estimation of population size, site occupancy, population trends, and survival. Students will learn how simulation and model fitting are used in planning and conducting field studies.

Contact Dr. Joseph Hightower: jhncsu@ncsu.edu


AEC 592.014: Community Ecology

T/R 8:30-9:45am
1206 Nelson Hall

This course explores the mechanisms structuring ecological communities. Topics covered include two‐species interactions, multi-species interactions, ecological networks, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, estimation of and regulation of species diversity, 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 sets and computer software to address questions in community ecology.

Contact Dr. Brad Taylor: bwtaylo3@ncsu.edu


AEC 630: Tropical Ecology and Conservation

W/F 11:45am-1:00pm
205 David Clark Labs

The course will be divided in two: 1) lectures covering major concepts and themes relevant to tropical ecology and conservation (these will include guest speakers from other institutions) and 2) student-led paper discussions. Our objective is to expose graduate students to selected taxa and the conservation challenges faced in tropical environments. When appropriate, we will contrast life history strategies in light of current and future threats to taxa in temperate regions. Lectures and discussion will also emphasize mechanisms and impediments to effect conservation in tropical settings. Includes a field trip to Puerto Rico (Spring Break).

Contact Dr. Jaime Collazo: jcollazo@ncsu.edu

Previous Courses

AEC 295 Sec 1 – Conservation on Islands

Islands make up less than 5% of all land area, yet 40% of endangered and threatened species live on islands. Worse, 80% of all extinctions have occurred on islands since the 1500’s. This course will explore different island environments, biogeography, and the cutting edge of science that is attempting to prevent further extinctions on islands.


AEC 360 – Ecology

The science of ecology, including factors which control distribution and population dynamics of organisms, structure, and function of biological communities, and energy flow and nutrient cycling in ecosystems; contrasts among the major biomes; and principles governing ecological responses to global climatic and other environmental changes.


AEC 380 – Global Water Resources

This course focuses on global issues associated with water resources, including the ways that people interact with water (how we use, degrade, conserve, and advocate for water and water rights), and how these interactions shape our lives. Offered in Summer.


AEC 400 – Applied Ecology

Global climate change, overfishing, habitat loss, altered nutrient cycles, and the spread of invasive species are among the world’s pressing global environmental issues. Solutions to these problems are complex but firmly rooted in the fundamental tenets of ecological theory. The field of applied ecology is premised on using these fundamental ecological principles to help solve the environmental challenges we face. This course will provide an overview of the field of applied ecology, working from the individual to global level, the course will provide a broad perspective on the field of applied ecology. Offered in Fall.


AEC 420 – Intro to Fisheries Science

Role of fish in aquatic ecosystems, fish biology, fish ecology, fisheries management, and conservation. Emphasis on aquatic ecosystems and food webs, life history and ecology of important sport and commercial fishes, population and community dynamics, and theory and practice of fisheries management and conservation. Case studies from freshwater, estuarine and marine systems.


AEC 441/442 – Fish Biology and Lab

Fishes are the largest and most diverse assemblage of vertebrates on the earth with nearly 30,000 described species. This course provides an overview of ichthyology including evolution, classification, and identification of fishes and a comparative examination of divergent fish behavior, physiology, and ecology. Offered in Fall.


AEC 450 – Conservation Genetics

Conservation genetics exposes students to genetic and genomic theory and methods commonly used in conservation and management of species.


AEC 460 – Field Ecology & Methods

This course upper-class undergraduates with interests in biology to the diverse field approaches used to address ecological questions. The course considers and implements a variety of field approaches from microcosm experiments to global studies of patterns and diversity. Students will conduct both group & independent research projects. Offered in Fall.


AEC 495 Sec 4 – Marine Fisheries Ecology

This course will describe fish life histories, fisheries biological data, stock assessment approaches, management, socioeconomics, and effects of fishing on habitats. Course material will draw from a variety of sources and real-world experiences of state and federal fisheries biologists and managers. This is part of the semester at coast program at CMAST.


AEC 495 Sec 8 – Science Communication

This course is an introduction to science communication and how to present science effectively and creatively on the web and in other visual formats.


AEC 495 Sec 9 – Environmental Issues in Aquatic Ecology

This course will discuss current events affecting our freshwater and marine resources, with historical background and prognosis. Topics in this course will cover State and Federal policies and regulations, nutrient enrichment, aquatic plants and human disease, status of our fisheries and much more.