Field Biology in Spring

Biol 361 - Great Lakes - May Session


Springtime plants and animals, their field identification, field biology, behavior and landscape context, with a focus on spring flora and birds. Starting with the geologic history of the area and its soils, a wide variety of ecosystems are studied to learn how people have interacted with the organisms there through the post-glacial history. The sustainability of human impacts by logging, farming and tourism are evaluated within a faith perspective. Students learn natural history of this place to equip the future practice of natural history in other places. The importance of natural history is applied to a variety of student interests, including medicinal uses of plants, nutrient cycling, and impact of food on human and environmental health. Offered between the spring college semester and the end of the spring high school semester to provide an opportunity to investigate the natural history almost entirely in the field during this very active time of year. (4 credits)


Professor: Dr. Dave Dornbos


Knowledge Gained

Identify a wide variety of plants and animals inhabiting the diverse ecosystems of the area

Appreciation for ecological health and ecological literacy

Understand environmental impacts associated with historical human uses of ecosystems

Describe implications of over-harvest and introduction of non-native invasive species on biodiversity and ecosystem health


Skills Developed

Use of dichotomous key for species identification

Identify a wide range of North American trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, birds and amphibians

Conduct field natural histories

Read topographical maps

Describe soil and plant morphology


Field Experiences

Exploration, discovery, bird identification and observation of the following locales:

Au Sable Campus and area forests, meadows, streams, and ponds

Hartwick Pines State Park

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Papoose Lake

Grass River Natural Area

Arcadia Dunes

Jordan River Valley

Au Sable River

Manistee River

Kirtland's Warbler breeding areas

Bear Lake Bog

Wilderness State Park