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Course Description

Adult Polar Bear and 2 cubs on an ice flow

This course examines the impacts of climate change on living organisms, biological communities and ecosystems. The course focuses on what is known, and what is not known, about the ways in which the suite of changing climate variables influence biological systems.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  • Interpret the current climate change in a historical context and define natural and human causes of climate variability
  • Examine the general trends in future climate and interpret the variability in future climate predictions through running different computer models
  • Explain expected changes in the net primary production of ecosystems through the analysis of different effects of climate change on plant physiology and decomposition
  • Evaluate the effects of the changing climate on forest productivity, food security, and biodiversity loss through applying the concepts learned about how climate change affects organisms
  • Hypothesize how different species and entire communities react to the changing climate by formulating a scientific question that will be applied to the design and presentation of a poster
  • Design experimental methods necessary to study how individuals, populations, communities, and entire ecosystems will respond to the changing climate and discuss their limitations

Course Topics

  • Introduction and Climate Definition
  • Climate Variability
  • Climate of the Past
  • Future Climate Projections
  • Physiological Changes Under Climate Change
  • Population Responses to Climate Change
  • Community Responses to Climate Change
  • Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change
  • Evolutionary Responses
  • Applications: Forest, Agriculture, and Biodiversity

Additional Requirements

Prerequisite(s): BIOL*2060
Equate(s): ENVB*3010


Assessment Item Weight
Weekly Quizzes (1.5% x 10) 15%
Online Discussions (5% x 3) 15%
Future Projection Assignment 10%
Poster 20%
Method Piece 20%
Final Exam 20%
Total 100%

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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