Courses

Updated September 28, 2021.

Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2022

Learn more about the teaching faculty here.

AEC 245: Global Conservation Ecology

TR 1:30–2:45PM
Erin McKenney

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 

MWF 9:35–10:25AM
Alonso Ramírez

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 384: Tropical Ecology in a Changing World

TR 10:15–11:30AM
Alonso Ramírez

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 

TR 8:30–9:45AM
Brad Taylor

This course uses concepts and theory, quantitative and mathematical models, experimental and other empirical approaches to explore the various mechanisms structuring ecological communities, including 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, community assembly, coexistence, niche and neutral theory, and macroecology. 

AEC 419: Freshwater Ecology 

M 1:30–4:15PM, TR 1:30–2:45PM
Brad Taylor

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 during the field-based laboratory with techniques used in freshwater studies of nutrients, hydrology, algae, invertebrates, and fish, as some examples. 

AEC 420: Introduction to Fisheries Science 

MW 1:30–2:45PM
Jessica Baumann

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 

TR 10:15–11:30AM
Jeff Buckel

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 Parasite & Disease Ecology 

MW 1:30–2:45PM
Skylar Hopkins

This course 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 compare and contrast the major taxonomic groups of parasitic animals, parasitic plants, parasitic fungi, and viruses; 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. This course uses a “flipped classroom” approach, where students use self-directed, multi-media learning outside of class to prepare for skill- and competency-building activities in class.

AEC 495 Applied Science Communication 

TR 3:00–4:14PM ONLINE
Michelle Jewell, Catherine LePrevost

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. Students will work on an independent, capstone science communication project throughout the course.

AEC 495: Environmental Issues in Aquatic Ecology

TR 3:00–4:15PM
JoAnn Burkholder

Expanding population growth near lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal oceans is increasing pollution impacts on our nation’s freshwater and marine resources. An understanding of the scientific basis of impacts from nutrient pollution, toxic chemicals, acidification, global warming, overfishing, and related stresses, and the overarching policy/political controls, is critically needed to restore and optimally manage these systems, and to protect the health of humans who depend upon them for potable water supplies and fishery resources. This course fills a gap in current curricula by providing students with a working scientific knowledge of water quality issues related to cultural solutions where applicable. The course is designed for practical use by both science and non-science majors. These are issues that all citizens need to understand; they quietly affect each of us in everyday living.

AEC 495: Gut Microbial Ecology 

MW 10:15–11:30AM
Erin McKenney

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.

Graduate Courses, Spring 2022

AEC 501: Ornithology 

MW 8:30–9:45 AM, F 8:30–11:15 AM
Nathan Hostetter, Ted Simons

The 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. Lectures will amplify material from the Ornithology text as well as outside readings to investigate the behavior and ecology of birds. Labs will focus on developing identification skills, understanding current bird sampling methods, and interacting with professionals across a variety of disciplines.

AEC 503:  Foundations of Ecology

M 4:30–6:20PM ONLINE
Rebecca Irwin

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 students prepare for their written and oral preliminary exams. This class is offered as online synchronous.  

AEC 519: Freshwater Ecology 

M 1:30–4:15PM, TR 1:30–2:45PM
Brad Taylor

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 during the field-based laboratory with techniques used in freshwater studies of nutrients, hydrology, algae, invertebrates, and fish, as some examples. 

AEC 592: Bayesian Population Analysis 

W 3:00–4:50PM
Joseph Hightower

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.

AEC 592: Gut Microbial Ecology 

MW 10:15–11:30AM
Erin McKenney

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.

AEC 592 Environmental Issues in Aquatic Ecology

TR 3:00–4:15PM
JoAnn Burkholder

Expanding population growth near lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal oceans is increasing pollution impacts on our nation’s freshwater and marine resources. An understanding of the scientific basis of impacts from nutrient pollution, toxic chemicals, acidification, global warming, overfishing, and related stresses, and the overarching policy/political controls, is critically needed to restore and optimally manage these systems, and to protect the health of humans who depend upon them for potable water supplies and fishery resources. This course fills a gap in current curricula by providing students with a working scientific knowledge of water quality issues related to cultural solutions where applicable. The course is designed for practical use by both science and non-science majors. These are issues that all citizens need to understand; they quietly affect each of us in everyday living.