BIO35N Catching up with Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Traditional ecological knowledge—the knowledge developed and maintained by local communities over many generations about their natural environment—is increasingly appreciated as fundamental to solving environmental problems. In this seminar, we will explore some of the cutting-edge research on traditional ecological knowledge and its conceptual and practical role in guiding ecosystem restoration. We will address some key questions. For example, what makes traditional ecological knowledge different from Western science? What led to the recent increase in Western scientists' appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge? How can traditional ecological knowledge inform ecosystem restoration in a world that is undergoing rapid climate change, land-use change, and biological invasion? And how can traditional ecological knowledge be merged with Western science to achieve more successful ecosystem restoration? The core of this Introductory Seminar is discussion based on reading of primary articles. We have guest panelists and also visit the Eductional Farm on campus to learn about agroecology that emphasizes Indigenous roots of agriculture.

I used to call this course Climate Change Ecology (below). After teaching it several times, I developed interest in traditoinal ecological knowledge and decided to make it the primary focus of the class.

BIO35N Climate Change Ecology: Is It Too Late?

This was a Introductory Seminar, intended mainly for first-year undergraduate students. Climate is changing at an alarming rate because of human activity, and this change is certain to affect many species of animals, plants, and microorganisms, driving some to extinction, while causing others to become invasive. To predict and manage the impact of climate change on species, it is necessary to understand how species interact with one another in the ecological community that they belong to and how these interactions are modified by climate change. In this seminar, we have explored some of the cutting-edge research on climate change and species interactions. We have focusd on two emerging concepts, disequilibrium and historical contingency. The disequilibrium concept emphasizes that it can take much longer for ecological communities to respond to climate change than usually thought because of complex species interactions. The historical contingency concept suggests that the order in which species come and go as a result of climate change will determine which species will persist in which communities. We have discussed how these and other concepts help us to know for which species it is already too late—that is, which species are already doomed to go extinct because of the changes that have happened to climate, and for which species it is not too late yet. We have explored what can be done to save species, including reintroduction, assisted migration, and ecosystem restoration.

BIO47 (formerly BIO44Y) Introduction to Research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Intended primarily for biology majors, the goal of this undergraduate course is to learn how to do ecological research. The emphasis of the course is not on breadth of knowledge or techniques, but on learning the scientific process by doing it. The students formulate hypotheses, decide what data to use and how to analyze them, and communicate results orally and in writing. As a case study, we focus on interactions between a species of flowering plants (sticky monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus), the hummingbirds and insects that pollinate the plants, and the yeasts that live in the floral nectar of the plants, at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The students use field, laboratory (including molecular) and statistical methods to test hypotheses. This class was featured in April 2013 by AAAS.

BIO202 Ecological Statistics

Co-taught with Rachel Vannette (fall 2012), Lisa Mandle (winter 2014), and Jes Coyle (fall 2017) this graduate-level course is an introduction to statistical methods for ecological data analysis, involving lectures, discussions, and independent research projects using the students' own data or simulated or publicly available data. Students learn to design statistically sound data collection to answer a given research question, choose among modern statistical tools and analyze data using the programming language R, present results effectively using R for peer-reviewed papers, and advise colleagues about statistical analysis.

BIO227 Foundations of Community Ecology

This seminar is for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. We discuss classic papers in community ecology (Forbes, Clements, Gleason, Grinnell, Lindeman, Preston, Elton, Hutchinson, May, MacArthur, Odum, Connell, Paine, Tilman, etc.) and contemporary papers on related topics, to develop historical perspectives to understand current issues and identify future directions.

I also participate in the Earth Systems in Hawaii Program and guest-lecture in various other courses.