Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Bio. Sci. 16O - High Sierra and White Mountain Ecology: Course Detail

(2 unit - approx. 54 hrs. min.)

Catalog Description: Field biology class contrasting the high elevation ecology of mountain ecosystems; specifically of the Sierra Nevada and White / Inyo Ranges. Mountain habitats: upper Sierran forest, meadows, subalpine forest, alpine fields, and aquatic areas are emphasized. Special topics covered includes: Bristlecone forest, high altitude adaptations (plants & animals), effects of human activities on fragile ecosystems, vertical organization of life zones, etc.. (Ability to hike & moderate backpacking may be required)

(typical class outline might include:)

Specific Topics:

Field identification techniques for animals and plants; Special physiological, behavioral and structural aspects of adaptations to the subalpine and alpine environments; Bristlecone pine biology / ecology - success with long life; Geology of the Sierra Nevada, Inyo/White Range, Ice age changes; Climate factors and life zones in association with changes in elevation; History of man's involvement at specific sites chosen.

General Concepts and Topics to be emphasized:

Photosynthesis, Enzymes and life energy utilization; Respiration and glycolysis; Diversity, complexity, stability; Production of terrestrial ecosystems; Eutrophication & Nutrient Cycling; Atmosphere - organization and composition; Climate, wind, weather, circulation patterns; Seasons (changes) (temperature variations); Astronomy, Solar system relationships; Light - importance to nature, physics; Geological processes - rivers/glaciers; Soil Particle sizes - clay humus complex; Special soil types (serpentine, etc.); Rain shadow effect (causes of deserts); Alpine / Tundra environments; Succession - define/examples ; Organism response to seasonal changes; Food storage and environmental change; Fluctuations in Populations - Cycles, time lag, etc.; Man - as an ecosystem organism; Air Pollution -- (including acid rain); Environmental Ethics: Parks and Wilderness system

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

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