Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Bio. Sci. 16C - Vernal Pools and the California Prairie: Course Detail

(1/2 unit - approx. 13 hrs. min.)

Catalog Description: Explores the unique biology and the effects of human history upon the ecology of California's Great Valley. Special habitats such as Vernal Pools, Valley Riparian Forest, & Native Valley Grasslands and how mankind has changed them are emphasized. Local species of plants and animals are identified in the field at selected sites.

(typical class outline might include:)

Specific Topics:

Valley Riparian Forest Ecosystem (structure & function); Vernal Pools (Seasonal Wetlands) Ecosystem (structure & function); California Prairie / Grasslands (structure & function); Seasonal Valley Flowers (Identification techniques & examples); Historical influence and human pressures (past, present, future); Current preservation status of the Valley's rare plant communities; Animals: pool invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds & mammals; Anatomy, keying, classification of the Grass family of plants.

General Concepts and Topics to be emphasized:

Ecology, Community - Ecosystem structure & function; Aquatic Environments - Importance of & variation; Cell Theory - cell organization, strategies; Seasonal cycles - aquatic environments; Migration and Dormancy; Production of Aquatic ecosystems; Water /Transpiration relationships; Cation exchange in temperate forest; Rain shadow effect (causes of deserts); Xeric, Mesic, Hydro - plant adaptations; Distribution of Organisms - large and small scales; Biomes / Biogeographic Regions; Community Vertical Structure; Solar Radiation and filtration; Extinction and species Diversity; Ecological Islands; Mutations, recombination, genetic pool; Endangered and rare species; Soil Horizons - nutrients, etc.; Soil Particle sizes - clay humus complex; Soil Water - types, use, patterns of flow; Agriculture and Natural processes; Human Population Growth; Environmental resources (use/abuse)

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(For official course listings, please consult the Sierra College online course catalog.)

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