Courses That Will Change Your Life: Insect Ecology of Streams, Forests and Fields

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May Session, Great Lakes Campus (Michigan)

As children, most of us can relate to playing outdoors, exploring and catching bugs to show our playmates and parents. This natural curiosity for insects serves the science of ecology well, these creatures play an important role in ecosystems and their study helps us to better understand both the insects themselves as well as the environments in which they live. Insect Ecology of Streams, Forests, and Fields taught by Dr. David Hoekman of Southern Nazarene University, provides such an opportunity, students delve into the world of insects gaining an in-depth understanding of insects and their role in ecosystems through this field-based course.

“Insects are very important for the functioning of virtually every ecosystem and food web on earth. They are also absolutely beautiful, once you learn even a little bit about insects, they are a wonderful way to learn about the systems in which they interact. They are a window into the world of biology.”

Dr. David Hoekman works as an Associate Professor of Biology at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma, and will be teaching Au Sable’s May Session course Insect Ecology of Streams, Forests and Fields for its fourth year running, on location at the Great Lakes Campus.

Having a passionate interest in insects, Dr. Hoekman says, “I’m an ecologist who has used several different insect systems in the course of my research. Insects are very important for the functioning of virtually every ecosystem and food web on earth. They are also absolutely beautiful, once you learn even a little bit about insects, they are a wonderful way to learn about the systems in which they interact. They are a window into the world of biology.”

While studying, students will learn about the life history, behavior, and ecology of terrestrial and aquatic insects and their roles in pollination, herbivory, predation, agroecosystems, disease and vector epidemiology, invasion ecology, soil ecology, biodiversity and freshwater ecology. Practical applications include study of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches to reduce negative impacts of pest species in agricultural, structural, and medical settings while preserving biodiversity and ecosystem functionality.

“I learned a lot about insect orders, where they are found, how they work, and there was a great deal of knowledge presented by the professor that I felt confident I knew what I was doing. The actual specimen capture and bug-pinning boxes made me proud by the end. The material would have been enough, but taking home a personal collection really added to the course,” said a former student of the class.

Practical field skills will be learned in Insect Ecology of Streams, Forests, and Fields with ample time spent exploring and collecting insects at local parks and nature areas such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Bear Lake Bog and Grass River Nature Area, to name a few. Come study insects and broaden your understanding of biology and ecosystems this May!

Register for this, or any of our college summer courses, by clicking here.