SFS 3781: Patagonian Ecology

4 CreditsEnvironment

This course focuses on ecology as a discipline, biodiversity, and the Patagonian ecoregions and habitats that have evolved with short growing seasons, tenacious southwesterly winds, and fierce winters. We will examine the ecology and evolution of faunal species such as Guanaco (related to the llama), Magellanic and King penguins, and the flightless Rhea, most of them endemic to the region, and the largest animal of them all, the Blue Whale. We will explore ecological succession, including primary succession, which is how life recruits into new environments, such as bare rock after glacial retreat, or new, igneous rock after volcanic eruption. Though flora is not particularly diverse here in southern Patagonia (save for the lichens and bryophytes), the floral structural complexity is fascinating. We will explore a remarkable latitudinal gradient—from Cape Horn in the south to Chiloé Island’s milder, temperate climate—a latitudinal change equivalent to traveling from Massachusetts to Florida. Thematically, we will traverse alpine ecology, exposed terrestrial ecology, coastal ecology, marine ecology, and fire ecology. From the central focus on the theory and practice of ecology, we will expand to investigate relationships between people and nature in conservation, resilience, and environmental challenges. We will explore the role of protected areas in conservation, including private protected areas that have emerged in Chile; invasive species; human history on landscapes; agriculture, plantation forests, and aquaculture; and current and predicted changes due to climate change. The course is constructed so that the lens of climate shifts and perturbations will be central to discussions and observations; it will encompass not only climate threats, but an understanding of the role of nature in climate adaptation and mitigation, and the role of Chilean climate policy and commitments in an international community.

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A- Average (3.808)Most Common: A- (52%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

50 students

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