Aquatic ecology is the study of the aquatic life and how it interacts with the biological, physical, and chemical environment. In this course, we will explore the diversity, abundance, and distribution of aquatic organisms in the diverse aquatic ecosystems available at the Wilderness Field Station, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park.
Carrie Kissman (St. Norbert College, DePere, Wisconsin)
Humans have long been interested in birds because they are charismatic, fellow vertebrates and reliable indicators of environmental conditions. Our interest has made the scientific study of birds (ornithology), one of the richest animal-based sciences. This course introduces ornithology and focuses on the breeding biology and ecology of the diverse avifauna nesting in pristine and moderately disturbed habitats near the field station. Canoe trips provide opportunities to practice bird identification, to discuss the adaptiveness of bird anatomy and physiology, and to observe nesting gulls, herons, and Bald Eagles. This course satisfies the lab science requirement and elective credit requirements for biology majors in most schools.
Jesse Ellis (Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
This course focuses on the philosophy, policy, and practice of conserving biodiversity using terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in and near the BWCA Wilderness as living laboratories. Extensive field work and some lecture and computer modeling are used to investigate conservation topics including the role of protected areas and anthropogenic impacts such as habitat loss, overharvest, invasive species, disease, and climate change. Case studies focus on a range of species including vertebrates (e.g., wolves, moose, and bird communities), invertebrates (e.g., mussels and crayfish), and plants (e.g., jack pine).
Prerequisites: one college Biology course
Roarke Donnelly (Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia)
This course introduces the students to field-based research in the social sciences. Students will become familiar with survey research by learning data-collection techniques such as participant observation and interviewing techniques. Students will also learn to record, analyze and present data. They will conduct research from two different cases of wilderness preservation, the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in the United States and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. Cross-national comparisons of political institutions, regulatory styles, and state-society relations will reveal different styles of environmental management and wilderness preservation. Students will interview key stakeholders on both sides of the border, including members of native communities (called "first nations" in Canada), business groups, environmental groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government. The course is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in environmental studies and social research methods, but no previous knowledge of political science or research methods is needed. Students considering graduate school will find this course particularly valuable because many graduate programs in the social sciences require strong field research skills.
Pablo Toral (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin)
Animals engage in a bewildering diversity of behaviors: moths "jam" the sonar of bats, wasps try to mate with flowers, whales communicate over kilometers of open ocean, and bees "dance" to tell their sisters when and where to forage. In this class we will explore both the ways scientists have tried to unravel the mysteries of animal behavior and the understanding that this research has provided. The unifying principle of most modern studies of animal behavior studies is that behavior, like morphology, physiology or cellular processes, has evolved under natural selection. To begin to fully understand animal behavior, however, we will look at behavior from several perspectives, including its physiological, genetic and environmental causes as well as its adaptive significance. We will review studies from around the world and apply what we learn from these to questions about species found in the boundary waters region.
Prerequisite: One college biology course.
Harlo Hadow (Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
This course takes advantage of an immersive experience in wilderness to explore the intersection of art and science, and to investigate how such immersive experiences can sharpen observational skills. Art has long been used to formally describe the natural world, and accurate and evocative imagery are critical aspects of scientific inquiry. Not unlike the naturalist of the 19th century, students will explore the ways in which we observe and record information from nature. The class will utilize both drawing and photography as a means of interpreting the diversity of organisms and natural features at the Wilderness Field Station and in the Boundary Waters region. This course is designed for the beginner in visual art with basic lessons in drawing and photography. Direct observation and explorations in the use of line, value, texture, and form will serve to develop your visual acuity. This heightened sense of seeing is then applied to photography with an emphasis on the study of the effects of light on a subject.
No previous experience required.
Students must bring their own DSLR digital camera with batteries or a camera phone with solar charger. If you need to purchase a camera, we recommend a Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital Camera- approximately $365.99 on Amazon.
Lucille Goodson (Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA)
This course investigates strategies for writing about the natural world in an informal workshop format. Class members explore the terrain around the Field Station and share with each other their written observations about those experiences. The composition assignments invite everyone to express their insights in various genre options: daily field journals, essays, poetry, short fiction, journalistic articles, memoirs, etc. By exploring and writing about this immersion into the north woods--plus reading works by such classic naturalists as Thoreau, Muir, Leopold, Olson, and McPhee--we should all gain a richer understanding of our relationship with the wilderness.
Chris Fink (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin)