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Field Biology Courses

Field biology courses begin with a mandatory orientation on Wednesday, May 24, 2017!  

The courses run for 5 weeks, ending on either June 26 or 27, 2017.

Did you know? Non-U of M visiting students pay in-state tuition regardless of state of residence.

Field biology courses held at Itasca are open to domestic or international undergraduate and graduate students of any accredited college or university, as well as to others with continuing education objectives, provided they are in good standing academically. Course credits are transferable to most colleges and universities. We welcome students from around the United States and the world. Instruction is in English, so competency in the English language is required.

Courses offered in 2017:
EEB 3807: Ecology with Prof. Leif Hembre (4 credits, Mondays & Thursdays + 2 additional days TBD. May 24 - June 26, 2017)
This course focuses on the interactions of human societies with both natural and managed ecosystems, including discussions of the impacts of new management practices (such as plant crops instead of gathering from nature, or plows, fertilizer, etc.) on human societies, and the impacts of changes in human population size and per capita consumption back on both managed and natural ecosystems. It also explores the interactions between the biological diversity of a region, the development of human societies, and the direct and indirect impacts of that development (including the evolution of diseases) on the spread and dominance of various cultural systems. All of this is done in the context of a rigorous treatment of ecological principles, including mathematical principles of population growth and regulation, interspecific interactions, and the epidemiology of human diseases. These principles provide significant insights into the development of different societies and cultural systems.
 
EEB 3811: Animal Behavior with Prof. Brian Wisenden (4 credits, Tuesdays & Fridays + 2 additional days TBD. May 24 - June 27, 2017)
This course introduces the principle concept of animal behavior through hypothesis-driven inquiry of animal systems in the field. Topics covered: proximate and ultimate causation of behavior, optimality, foraging, habitat selection, risk-sensitive behavior, antipredator behavior, courtship and territoriality, parental care and implications of animal behavior for resource management and conservation. Most class days begin with the introduction of a topic followed by a day-long field experiment involving the concept. Thus, students learn concepts in animal behavior and how to be an animal behaviorist. In the process, students acquire skills in data collection and management, and experimental design (controls, replication, conclusions based upon statistical inference, connecting class results to the primary literature). 
 
BIOL 4850: Special Topics in Biology: Parasite and Disease Ecology with Prof. Sarah Knutie (4 credits, Tuesdays & Fridays + 2 additional days TBD. May 24 - June 27, 2017)
In this field biology course, students will gain hands-on experience and learn concepts related to animal disease ecology.  Students will learn how to design and conduct an experiment on the effects of parasites on hosts and in turn, how these hosts defend themselves physiologically and behaviorally.  They will also learn how to collect and quantify ectoparasites on birds and mammals, blood parasites in birds, and helminths in fish in Itasca State Park; such data collection will relate to basic and applied concepts in disease ecology.  Students will also learn novel molecular techniques in ecological immunology. Assessment will be based on exams, class projects, and individual presentations.
 
EEB 4839: Field Mammalogy with Prof. Joseph Whittaker (4 credits, Tuesdays & Fridays + 2 additional days TBD. May 24 - June 27, 2017)
The primary goal of this course is to introduce you to the study of mammals, including aspects of their evolution, natural history, identification, and techniques used for scientific study. This course will enable you to integrate concepts of ecology, morphology, physiology, as well as other aspects of natural history using mammals as model organisms. This course will supplement your knowledge of taxonomy, phylogeny, and ecology while providing practical experience with current methodology. Writing assignments will expose you to current literature and aid you in the process of critical thinking.
 
EEB 4844: Field Ornithology with Prof. Muir Eaton (4 credits, Mondays & Thursdays + 2 additional days TBD. May 24 - June 26, 2017)
Introduction to biology of breeding birds through use of field techniques. Bird identification by sight/song, focal-animal observation, mist-netting, and censusing. Levels of nest depredation in different habitats. In lab, students learn about 100 species from study of specimens.