EEB 3534: Biodiversity Science: The origins, maintenance, consequences, detection & assessment of biodiversity

3 CreditsEnvironment

Biodiversity science is a rapidly expanding field of enquiry with increasing digital resources and global monitoring capabilities precisely at the moment in history that scientists recognize as the Sixth Extinction. In other words, we are currently facing a biodiversity crisis with threats to the Earth's biota not seen since the dinosaurs perished 65 million years ago. \"Biodiversity\" was coined by W.G. Rosen and E.O Wilson in the 1980s to describe the variation in all of life on Earth. The term is now widely used in both the scientific and popular literature and is at the center of scientific enquiry, conservation efforts, large-scale collaborative pursuits of technological advances to allow monitoring from space, and global assessments that interface with international policy. Biodiversity requires integration across multiple disciplines from evolution, to ecology, remote sensing, conservation biology, economics and the social sciences, including the environmental policy. Biodiversity science is thus inherently interdisciplinary. As a consequence, rarely does a single course provide students the opportunity to focus on this critical topic from multiple perspectives and dimensions. This new course seeks to provide students intensive study of biodiversity from six perspectives: 1) the origins of biodiversity, including the processes of speciation and extinction over macroevolutionary timescales and those involved in generating biological variation at microevolutionary scales; 2) the ecological problem of species coexistence, given the nature of competitive interactions and biological filters with a focus on the interactions of individual species and major threats to biodiversity; 3) the consequences of biodiversity and biodiversity loss for ecosystem functions, focusing on ecosystem scale processes; 4) the services or benefits to humans attributed to biodiversity, including cultural benefits of biodiversity; here we discuss both practical and ethical arguments for sustaining biodiversity; 5) methods of detecting biodiversity including classic field biodiversity observations and taxonomic collections and emerging remote sensing methods that harness hyperspectral data and satellite imagery; and 6) scientific assessments of biodiversity that communicate the science of biodiversity to policymakers, particularly the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The IPBES involves scientists from around the world and integrates indigenous and local knowledge (ILK). The United Nations and governments around the globe are sponsoring the IPBES, building on earlier assessments such as a prominent one in the UK. Several guest lecturers from across the University will participate in discussions and aid in development of computer labs (including Sharon Jansa (CBS), Keith Barker (CBS), Joe Knight (CFANS), and others). prereq: One semester college biology or instr consent, MATH 1142 or MATH 1271 or Math 1272 or Math 1241 or Math 1242 or MATH 1281 or Math 1282 or equiv

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