Kenneth Fortino

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If you are currently a student in one of my classes please check Canvas for the most up-to-date information.

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General Ecology BIOL 341

General Description

Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with each other and the non–living world around them. This simple definition encompassed an enormous amount of complexity. Ecological topics span seemingly diverse subjects, such as the behavior of individual organisms in their environment and the flow of energy in the biosphere. Despite the fact that these phenomena occur on vastly different spatial and temporal scales, they are linked through ecological systems. Understanding ecology requires understanding both individual processes and their connections in the biosphere.

Investigating systems as complex as ecological systems necessitates a diverse set of scientific tools and approaches. In this course we will focus on the process of addressing ecological questions. You learn a foundation of ecological knowledge based on a subset of current topics but more importantly you will learn the methods that ecologists use to gain knowledge about the natural world and its complexity. These methods include, conceptual and mathematical models, technical reading comprehension, and data synthesis.

Catalog Description

General Ecology. The principles underlying the interrelations of groups of organisms with their environments, including the population, community and ecosystem levels of organization. The lab normally includes local field trips. Prerequisites: BIOL 121 and BIOL 122 with minimum grades of C- or permission of instructor. 3 lecture and one 3-hour lab periods. 4 credits. WR.

Special Topics in Biology: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function BIOL 395

General Description

However you describe the function of the Earth's biosphere, it is clear that it is influenced by biodiversity. Ecological function is the result of the activity of all of the organisms living within a particular ecological system. Despite the obvious connection it has been difficult to formally develop descriptions of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function.

In this course we will explore the historical development of the field of biodiversity and ecosystem function and the current state of the science. Furthermore, we will examine how human impacts on biodiversity may alter ecological functions that human societies depend upon.

Special Topics in Biology: Biogeochemical Cycles BIOL 395

General description

Biogeochemistry is the study of the chemistry of the biosphere. Life has and extraordinary impact on the flow of material and energy on the Earth's surface. Earth's surface chemistry is so greatly altered by the activity of living things that should similar patterns be observed elsewhere in the universe they would be interpreted as virtually unquestionable evidence for the existence of life.

This course will examine how the living processes on the Earth interact chemically with the non–living aspects of the Earth's atmosphere, and surface. We will cover both the history of life's impact on the Earth's chemistry and how present day life continues to alter the biosphere. As part of this final discussion, we will discuss the unique role that human activities play in the present state of Earth's surface chemistry.

Introduction to Environmental Science GNED 162

General Description

Environmental science is the study of the interaction between human activities and environmental processes. This course is built upon a set of fundamental hypotheses that will shape how we seek to understand this interaction.

  1. The function and interaction of environmental and human processes can be partially understood through scientific inquiry.
  2. The biosphere is an interconnected and closed system in which activities in one component invariably alter other components.
  3. Human activities are part of the biosphere, and therefore alter and rely on the biosphere.
  4. Human interactions with the biosphere depend on both biological and cultural needs.

Catalog Description

GNED 162. Introduction to Environmental Science. An interdisciplinary science course designed to introduce students to scientific study focused on the environment. Fundamental concepts addressed by this course include ecosystems, plate tectonics, nutrient and water cycles, energy flow, and climate. This course emphasizes the interrelationships of physical and biological components, the importance of the environment as a resource across cultures, and current challenges to understanding and maintaining our environment. 4 credits.*Fulfills General Education Goal 6.