Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Intro Biology Lab - BIOLOGY 173 ARC

2 credits for BIOLOGY 173

Dates: May 18 -June 19, 2020

Location: ONLINE

Instructor: Cindee Giffen

Course Description

Research has shown that most forests are carbon “sinks.” They take carbon from the atmosphere, and store it in the vegetation and soil. It is unclear how forests’ ability to store carbon is affected as their trees age, succumb to disease, or experience natural disasters. You will explore answers in this Authentic Research Connection (ARC) section of Biology 173: Environmental Biology of Forest Ecosystems.

You will learn about how forest ecosystems research is conducted, and use previously collected data in your own research project about long-term research that has been done in the UMBS forests and at other research sites in the US. We will use data collected in the UMBS burn chrono-sequence plots, the FASET (Forest Accellerated Succession ExperimenT) site and the newly-funded FORTE (FOrest Resilience Threshold Experiment) site. 

We will learn about how much carbon is being stored in soil, how the vegetation could respond to different types and intensity of disturbances, analyze hemispherical photographs of the canopy, and will consider the diversity of species present and what factors affect tree species diversity over time.

The instructors may be able to visit UMBS to take video and collect hemispherical photographs for you to analyze during the course. We can also draw on a variety of publicly available large datasets, including those available from eBird, NEON, long-term meteorological datasets, feeder watch, wildlife cameras, etc. Our goal is to allow you to develop and conduct a scientific investigation broadly related to forest ecology that you are excited to explore! 


To help you stay on track and progress through this short (but intense!) lab course, expect to be doing work related to the course 3 days per week. There will be two lectures (online) per week, along with at least 2 lab activities you need to do. Lab activities will be mostly virtual, but you will have some opportunities to explore nature around your home.

In addition, there will be Discussion board posts you need to read and respond to, related to articles we are reading or data analysis activities. In this course, you will develop skills in reading and understanding scientific journal articles, spreadsheet data management and statistical analysis, and scientific communication (written and oral). These skills are vital for pursuing a degree or career in science.

One of your first labs will involve estimating the biomass of a tree using its Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) measurement.