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Population & Community Ecology
Cascade Sorte, University of California-Irvine
Students in a Population and Community Ecology class participate in coastal marine research focused on understanding factors determining population sizes and community interactions, particularly in the context of species that appear to be shifting their ranges with climate change. Students participate in all aspects of the research from making observations and collecting data in the field to defining questions, stating hypothesis, designing and completing statistical analysis, and interpreting and presenting results. The outcomes are a research proposal, research paper, and poster presentation. All are intended to be at a level appropriate for use as a writing sample or presentation at undergraduate conferences. Results are incorporated into the ongoing research project led by the course instructor and graduate student teaching assistant.

Soil Ecology Lab
Becky Ball, Arizona State University at the West Campus
Students collect soil samples from places of interest around campus and run a series of basic soil analyses to make conclusions about how soil fertility relates to the biological community and human management.

Module 2: Ecology and Paleoecology Principles
Russell Graham, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
In this two part activity, students are introduced to the principals of ecology and paleoecology and compare modern ecological relationships with prehistoric ones. In part one, students read about ecological principles such as ecological niches and competitive exclusion, and how these principles can be applied to modern and past organisms. Students answer a series of questions that ask them to apply their knowledge of ecological principles. In the second part, students are introduced to non-analogue biotas and complete a set of exercises using the Neotoma Explorer. Part of the Neotoma Education Modules for Biotic Response to Climate Change.

Module 1: An Ecology/Climate Scenario
Russell Graham, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
In this module, participants read a short scenario and answer a series of questions to emulate the scientific process of making observations and hypotheses. Entitled "Gotta find a better place to fish...", the scenario details observations of biological, environmental, and ecological changes to a mountain stream over time. Participants answer questions that ask them to hypothesize why some of these changes might be occurring and how they are related. Part of the Neotoma Education Modules for Biotic Response to Climate Change.

The More The Merrier in The Math of Population Ecology
Victor Padron, Normandale Community College
This is a teaching module, directed to undergraduate students in applied mathematics, that derives a mathematical model of population ecology describing the role of dispersal in the survival of a population in ...

Review for interdisiplinary science course (stream ecology, watersheds)
Cailin Huyck Orr, Carleton College
This is a large-scale participatory activity used to prompt students to review what they have learned and to think actively and cooperatively about the connections between the systems we have discussed prior to the ...

Molecular Techniques in Ecology and Evolution
steven kimble, Towson University
Microbiomes are the huge communities of microbes that live in and on host organisms, and are typically intimately involved with the host in myriad ways, including in immune, metabolic, and behavior functions. As ecosystems, these microbiomes are sensitive to changes in their environments, such as host aging, disease state, or contact with pollutants. They could therefore be used as bioindicators of host health, but the membership and functions of microbiomes are poorly understood in almost all creatures, especially reptiles and amphibians. In this CURE we use modern field, laboratory, and bioinformatic tools to describe and analyze the microbiomes of non-model organisms such as frogs, turtles, and reef fish.

Analyzing datasets in ecology and evolution to teach the nature and process of science
Rebecca Price, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus
This quarter-long project forms the basis of a third-year course for majors and nonmajors at the University of Washington, Bothell called Science Methods and Practice. Students use databases to identify novel research questions, and extract data to test their hypotheses. They frame the question with primary literature, address the questions with inferential statistics, and discuss the results with more primary literature. The product is a scientific paper; each step of the process is scaffolded and evaluated. Given time limitations, we avoid devoting time to data collection; instead, we sharpen students' ability to make sense of a large body of quantitative data, a situation they may rarely have encountered. We treat statistics with a strictly conceptual, pragmatic, and abbreviated approach; i.e., we ask students to know which basic test to choose to assess a linear relationship vs. a difference between two means. We stress the need for a normal distribution in order to use these tests, and how to interpret the results; we leave the rest for stats courses, and we do not teach the mathematics. This approach proves beneficial even to those who have already had a statistics course, because it is often the first time they make decisions about applying statistics to their own research questions. We incorporate peer review and collaborative work throughout the quarter. We form collaborative groups around the research questions they ask, enabling them to share primary literature they find, and preparing them well to review each other's writing. We encourage them to cite each other's work. They write formal peer reviews of each other's papers, and they submit their final paper with a letter-to-the-editor highlighting how their research has addressed previous feedback. A major advantage of this course is that an instructor can easily modify it to suit any area of expertise. Students have worked with data about how a snail's morphology changes in response to its environment (Price, 2012), how students understand genetic drift (Price et al. 2014), maximum body size in the fossil record (Payne et al. 2008), range shifts (Ettinger et al. 2011), and urban crop pollination (Waters and Clifford 2014).

Using NSF's NEON Data in an Undergraduate Ecology CURE on the Ecological Impacts of Global Climate Change
Jennifer Kovacs, Agnes Scott College
We live in a time where we can see a very real need for a basic understanding of ecological terminology, concepts, and methodologies to improve public policy and other ecological problem-solving decisions, especially in light of global climate change. Across the field, there is a major push to incorporate computational thinking and an understanding of human social systems throughout the science curriculum. In ecology and other STEMM fields, basic programming and coding skills have become essential and marketable, as has the ability to mine and analyze large data sets.In this semester-long CURE, students individually develop and answer their own ecological research question using a selection of publicly available datasets from the expansive NSF NEON data repository. Generally, at the beginning of the course the instructor selects several data products from a specific geographic region. After gaining familiarity with the NEON project through videos, a NEON data tutorial, and a case study, students also use these curated NEON data products to begin forming their independent research projects. Most students ultimately incorporate other data products either from NEON or other databases into their final research projects. Students use mostly R to download, wrangle, and analyze their data. The instructor assumes no prior knowledge of R or coding at the beginning of the course. Throughout the semester, students complete mini-assignments and tutorials which introduce them to the necessary coding skills to download, clean, analyze, and visualize their chosen data products. Additionally, students are provided with a wide range of free resources, including videos, tutorials, and the free online textbook Passion Driven Statistics to help them master the skills they need to complete their individual research projects. During weekly in-class one-on-one meetings with the instructor, students work to identify, collect, and analyze data that would address an existing hypothesis/ problem in the field of ecology and global climate change. Ultimately, students present their findings to the larger campus community during the annual undergraduate research day at our institution.

Freshwater Ecology/Limnology
Course taught by Dave Potter, Unity College. Example compiled by Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center.
Students study aquatic organisms in relation to the environmental conditions of lakes and streams. The course develops substantial quantities of data concerning the local watershed. This data is used by community partners in many contexts.