Rare and Common: Advanced Reading in Conservation and Ecology (BIO4321.01)

Caitlin McDonough Mackenzie

Quantifying and monitoring the abundance of particular organisms is often the major endeavor in conservation and ecology research. We work to protect endangered species, facilitate the recovery of threatened species, reduce invasive species, and restore historically present species, but we also understand that even absent human pressures, some species are more rare than others. How do ecologists understand what makes some species rare and others common? What impacts do rarity or commonness have on ecosystem structure and function? How do human-caused changes in abundance shift these dynamics? In this class, we will explore questions of rarity and commonness through peer-reviewed papers in ecology and biological conservation. We’ll unpack how scientists have defined and framed rare and common species in papers spanning four decades of research. Finally, we will connect our ecological understandings of “rare” and “common” to conservation policy-making and management.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Read and interpret peer-reviewed literature in the fields of conservation and ecology.
2. Evaluate how ecology research is used to support conservation management. Insert yourself into the scholarly conversations on rarity, commonness, changes in abundance, conservation, and management.
3. Reflect on individual approaches to reading, research, and writing in STEM. Examine and assess your (maybe unconscious) practices, and identify the strategies that best support your process.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: 2000-level ecology course or instructor permission (contact: cmcdonoughmackenzie@bennington.edu).
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 16
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Biology , Environment , Four Credit , Fully In-Person
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