Our group offers a range of courses in ecology, primarily to students in Environmental Sciences (D-USYS) and Biology (D-BIOL). The courses are designed to offer students both classroom and field experience from the beginning of their studies through their Masters. They emphasize both conceptual questions and their application to current environmental problems.
Drs. and jointly design the curriculum and teach most of the classes. Both of us are always happy to meet with students interested in pursuing coursework in ecology or discussing the content of our courses.
We teach half of this semester-long lecture course introducing students to the principles of ecology. Topics include the aims and approaches of ecological research, responses of organisms to abiotic factors, the structure and dynamics of populations, species interactions, the cycling of energy and resources, biological diversity, and species conservation (Güsewell, Fall Semester, D-USYS, D-ERDW, D-BAUG, D-HEST, UZH etc.).
We teach six ecology lectures in the first year survey course offered by the Biology Department, and provide an overview of population, community, and ecosystem ecology (Levine, Spring Semester, D-BIOL, D-HEST, D-CHAB).
Students at the end of their first year experience the challenges of ecological field research and its applications during a two day course in the Chasseral Regional Park. Projects explore tree bud burst and pathogen attack as influenced by climate, forest regeneration, insect diversity in subalpine pastures, and environmental education (Güsewell and Levine, Spring Semester, D-USYS).
Students conduct a range of field projects exploring conceptual and management issues in grasslands of Switzerland. They learn to recognize different grassland types, their characteristic species, and understand the management issues specific to certain grasslands. Students implement field surveys and experiments to test the ecological and anthropogenic controls over grassland species composition (Güsewell, Spring Semester, D-USYS).
In a lecture format, students learn the controls over ecological dynamics, with an emphasis on ecological theory. Topics include structured population growth, metapopulation dynamics, consumer resource interactions, the maintenance of species diversity, and island biogeography theory. Each week also includes a group discussion of a paper from the primary literature (Levine, Spring Semester, D-USYS and D-BIOL).
This lecture course provides students with a detailed understanding of ecological processes structuring plant populations and communities. In addition to the theoretical framework, various concrete examples are presented on each topic, so students understand when, why and how the ecological processes are important in practice. Topics include strategies of resource use, plasticity, phenology, seed banks and dispersal, competition and mutualism, herbivory, pollination, plant-soil interactions and effects of fires (Güsewell and Levine, Fall Semester, D-USYS).
We lead part of an advanced field course where students get involved in the current research projects of our group as well as international research collaborations to study interactions between plants, soil and climate. Students gain experience with the entire research process from the formulation of questions and study design to statistical data analysis and interpretation. They learn to establish and maintain plant growth experiments and conduct ecophysiological measurements (Güsewell, Spring Semester, D-USYS).
In a series of lectures coupled to computer exercises in R and paper discussions, students explore quantitative tools in plant ecology. Modules explore compositional analyses of plant communities, individual based models of competition, the dynamics of spreading populations, Bayesian statistical approaches, and experimental design in plant community manipulations (Hart and Levine, Spring Semester, D-USYS and D-BIOL).
This class provides students with an overview of techniques for data analysis used in modern ecological research, as well as practical experience in running these analyses with R and interpreting the results. Topics include linear models, generalized linear models, mixed models, model selection, and randomization methods. After the course, students will be able to choose appropriate techniques for typical ecological problems and types of data, discuss their assumptions and limitations, implement the analyses in R, represent the results in graphs, tables and text, and interpret the results in ecological terms (Güsewell, Fall Semester, D-USYS).
The purpose of the course is to provide students with opportunities to research and reflect on fundamental questions that underpin central concepts relevant to environmental science. The issues raised by these fundamental questions, each of which transcend any particular field, are directly relevant to how society interacts with the environment, and hence our planet's future (Levine, Spring Semester, D-USYS).
We also contribute to the Ecology and Evolution Term Paper and Seminar (Masters) 701-1461-00L