Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Bio. Sci. 16L - California Waterways (Riparian & Aquatic Biology): Course Detail

(1.5 unit - approx. 45 hrs. min.)

Catalog Description: Beginning explorations into the biology/ecology of aquatic environments west of the Sierra Nevada crest. This field class examines organisms living in association with the water cycle and surveys a variety of aquatic/riparian habitats: springs/meadows/bogs, lakes, ponds, vernal pools, streams, rivers, deltas, bay/estuaries, fresh & salt marshes as observed at selected sites from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco Bay. Man's current and historical associations with these and nearby environments will be highlighted. (Attendance on both field trips required for course completion.)

(typical class outline might include:)

Specific Topics:

Ecology of Lake Tahoe: an example of a large, high elevation lake.; Lake / pond / meadow -- Autotrophic Succession.; California's water (use): history and problems, possible solutions and future conflicts and resolutions.; Endangered ecological communities - salt marsh & riparian forest; San Francisco Bay - ecology of an estuary and an urban community.

General Concepts and Topics to be emphasized:

Ecosystem - basic parts / examples; Food chains and webs (trophic levels); Production of Aquatic ecosystems; Biogeochemical cycles - general concept; Water cycle -- watersheds and nutrient cycling; Climate, wind, weather, circulation patterns; Temperature variation in riparian and aquatic habitats; Geological processes - deltas/rivers/glaciers; Soil Water - types, use, patterns of flow; Field & Wilting Capacity of Soils; Variation in Aquatic Environments; Water Chemistry and Physics - Properties; Estuaries (currents, composition, life forms); River, Lakes and Pond biology; Aquatic Environments - Importance of & variation; Riparian Environments & Community Vegetation Structure; Distribution of Organisms - pattern of growth; Autotrophic & Hydrarch succession (bog succession); Extinction -- loss of a potential resource; Extinction - Information Value (loss of a resource); Air Pollution -- (including acid rain); Biological Magnification - Plankton and up; Pesticides and Heavy Metal Pollution; Soil erosion / conservation; Cost of regulation: making "nature" conform?; Waste - sewage treatment

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

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