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2024 field biology course offerings

**All enrolled students must arrive at Itasca Station for Orientation on Sunday, May 12th, 2024**

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BIOL 3800: Special Topics at Itasca - Field Entomology

3 credits | May 12 - May 31, 2024 | M, Tu, Th, F | 1 - 5 p.m., full day Thursdays

This course focuses on learning how to think like an entomologist. Students will learn to study insects from collection to curation, identification, and analysis of collected data. Focusing on insect biology, students will learn how to match collection techniques to the ecology and development of different insect groups. Students will learn how to inventory community assemblages, monitor populations, and explore trophic interactions. A diversity of aquatic and terrestrial habitats will be explored through day trips to field sites. Course lectures will introduce an overview of methods and concepts that will then be taken into the field for application. This course will focus on hypothesis driven methods, meaning students will acquire skills in data collection and management, as they relate to scientific experimental design. 

Instructor: Dr. Matt Petersen (pet03207@umn.edu)

For more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

EEB 3811W: Animal Behavior in the Field

4 credits | May 12 - June 14, 2024 | M, Th; full-day + 2 additional field days TBD

This course introduces the principal concepts 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).

Instructor: Professor Brian Wisenden (wisenden@mnstate.edu).

For more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

EEB 4839: Field Studies in Mammalogy

4 credits | May 12 - June 14, 2024 | Tu, F; full-day + 2 additional days TBD

The primary goal of this field course is to introduce students to the study of mammals, including aspects of their evolution, natural history, identification, and techniques used for scientific study. In addition to lectures and specimen identification, we will work with and observe mammals in their natural habitats within Itasca State Park and surrounding areas. This course will enable students to directly integrate and apply concepts of ecology, morphology, physiology, as well as other aspects of natural history in the field using mammals as model organisms. Field Mammalogy will supplement knowledge of taxonomy, phylogeny, ecology, and natural history while providing practical experience with current, hands-on methodology. Field projects and writing assignments will expose students to current literature, data collection and analysis, scientific writing, and aid in the process of critical and scientific thinking. 

Instructor: Professor Joseph Whittaker (jwhittak@cord.edu)

For more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

EEB 4844: Field Ornithology

3 credits | May 12 - May 31, 2021 | M, Tu, W, F | 5:30 - 10:30 a.m., full day Wednesdays

This class focuses on developing basic field ornithology skills, analyzing collected data, and relating relevant aspects of avian biology to field observations. Students will learn field identification skills focused on northern Minnesota species. They will learn and practice mist-netting, bird banding, point counts, and territory mapping to quantify community composition, density, behavior, and long-term population trends. A diversity of habitats will be explored by day trips to nearby field sites. A field journal, a team presentation, quizzes, and field exams will form the basis of assessment. 

Instructor: Dr. Fred Beaudry (beaudry@alfred.edu).

For more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

PMB 3802/5802: Field Microbiology

3 credits | May 12 - May 31, 2024 | M, Tu, W, F | 8 - 11:50 a.m, full day Wednesdays

Microorganisms are abundant and diverse. They inhabit nearly every environment on Earth and contribute to global processes. In the environment, microorganisms interact with each other, impacting both biotic and abiotic processes. Field microbiology combines culture-independent studies of the taxonomy and physiology of microorganisms with observations and characterization of their environments to better understand ecological, evolutionary, and biogeochemical processes. Itasca Biological Station & Laboratories is an ideal location for field microbiology studies: the station is situated at the intersection of coniferous forest, eastern deciduous forest and tall grass prairie ecosystems, as well as the headwaters of the Mississippi River and springs, lakes, and bogs rich in trace metals.

We will cover how to study microorganisms in their environments, how to characterize biotic and abiotic characteristics of environments to better understand interactions between microorganisms and their environment, and to integrate biological and environmental data determine the most important factors that lead to the diversity and function of microorganisms in the environment. We will design experiments and test hypotheses by measuring environmental parameters, collecting samples, performing DNA extractions and sequencing, analyzing and interpreting data. We will prepare written reports, present data, and read and evaluate environmental microbiology literature.

Instructor: Dr. Trinity Hamilton (trinityh@umn.edu)

For more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor. Permission is required for undergraduates to enroll in the graduate-level of this course (PMB 5802); inquire with the instructor.

PMB 3812/5812: Field Mycology

3 credits | May 12 - May 31, 2024 | M, Tu, Th, F | 1 - 4:50 p.m, full day Thursdays

This class focuses on learning about how to study fungi. Students will gain experience identifying mushrooms and other samples collected during course field trips using macromorphological, microscopic, and molecular techniques. In addition, students will isolate fungi from environmental samples and maintain cultures as well as assess fungal community abundance and composition using both traditional (e.g. root tip colonization) and DNA-based methods (e.g. next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and ecological statistics). Course lectures highlight different aspects of fungal diversity (taxonomic, physiological, and ecological) and lab exercises provide hands-on practice. Course writing assignments and presentations emphasize exploring the natural history of fungi as well as critically assessing primary research literature.

Instructor: Professors Jonathan Schilling (schillin@umn.edu) 

For more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor. Permission is required for undergraduates to enroll in the graduate-level of this course (PMB 5812); inquire with the instructor.

Courses may be paired for dual enrollments. Due to daily class schedules, only the indicated pairings are possible:

BIOL 3800: Special Topics at Itasca - Field Entomology  +  EEB 4844: Field Ornithology

PMB 3802/5802: Field Microbiology   PMB 3812/5812: Field Mycology

EEB 3811W: Animal Behavior in the Field  +  EEB 4839: Field Studies in Mammalogy

Satisfy degree requirements at Itasca


Registration

Students must enroll in Itasca field courses through the UMN - Twin Cities course registration system.

  • Registration opens for graduate level courses Tuesday, November 14th, 2023
  • Registration opens for UMN students Thursday, February 22nd, 2024
    • For students from UMN campuses other than the Twin Cities (Crookston, Duluth, Morris, or Rochester) check with your advisor for information on multi-institution enrollment prior to registration
  • Registration opens for non-UMN students Thursday, February 29th, 2024 (Learn how to register)

Course registration closes on April 29th, 2024. Contact IBSL@umn.edu for permission to enroll after that date.


2024 Course Costs

Room & Board*

  • 3-week courses — $860.50  
  • 5-week courses — $1463.50  

 *students incur one room & board charge regardless of concurrent registration in multiple Itasca courses

Tuition & Fees 

  • UMN Tuition — Check the OneStop tuition page to determine your UMN tuition rate
  • Registration fees — Check the OneStop fees page for other UMN registration fees
  • Itasca transportation fee — $75 (per course)
  • Lab materials fee — $88 (per course)
Estimated
cost of attendance**
MN Resident
(or Reciprocity)
Non-Resident
3 credits  $         2,846.15  $      5,144.00
4 credits  $         4,006.70  $      7,070.50
6 credits  $         4,681.80  $      9,277.50
8 credits  $         6,399.90  $    12,527.50

**Estimate includes Tuition, Room & Board, Itasca Transportation Fee, Lab Materials Fee, and CBS Collegiate Fee. Actual costs for students may vary depending on their individual situation. IBSL students are exempt from the summer Student Services Fee and the UMN Transportation Fee if they are not enrolled in any other courses for  the summer.


Due to a generous community of donors, many scholarships are available to students to help cover the costs of Itasca field biology courses.