Terrestrial Ecosystems


Welcome to the Biol 416 webpage for Fall 2019



Reference list
Guidelines for developing good questions
Seminar guidelines

Forman and Ironwood farms, and QUBS Bracken tract field trip reflections

Ravensfield farm field trip reflections

Field trip and lab photos

 

The ecosystem approach to ecology treats organisms and the physical aspects of their environment as components of a single integrated system. Terrestrial ecosystem functioning is governed by interactions amongst animals, plants, and soil organisms, as well as exchanges of energy and resources with the atmosphere, soils, rocks, and aquatic environments. This advanced undergraduate level ecology course is focused on plant-soil interactions as being a fundamental determinant of the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems around the world. As a group, we will attempt to synthesize recent advances arising from the ecosystem approach with established ecological theory to describe and explain ecosystem-level patterns and processes in the terrestrial environment.

The course content for the Fall 2019 iteration will be centered on identifying, critiquing, and applying terrestrial ecosystem ecological concepts to address the following thematic question:  What specific terrestrial ecosystem-level ecology concepts would be most beneficial to meeting global food demands in 2050, while also addressing industrial agriculture’s deleterious impacts on soil, air, and human well-being?

Learning outcomes:
By the end of this course, the student should be able to
:

  1. Explain and evaluate the major concepts underlying terrestrial ecosystem ecology that distinguish it from lower hierarchical levels such as community and population ecology
  2. Describe and contrast the major processes and features that distinguish local terrestrial ecosystems, especially in the context of how soil-plant relationships influence farmers’ crop-type choices
  3. Formulate clear, original, challenging, and concise thematic questions from study reading material that are likely to lead to focussed and intellectually probing seminar group discussions, student-led seminar topics or short essay writing pieces
  4. Explain the concept of food insecurity as it applies at both local (Kingston) and global scales
  5. Synthesize, evaluate, and critique the potential solutions to meeting future local and global food demands
  6. Present a stimulating, informative and creative seminar on a fundamental issue connecting agroecosystem ecology and global food supply/demand
  7. Develop an original, cohesive, synthesis essay on the distinctive concepts of ecosystem-level ecology that would be most useful in developing and expanding sustainable farming practices.


Paul Grogan
E-mail: groganp@queensu.ca
Office: Room 2508. Tel. (613) 533 6152. Fax: (613) 533 6617
Lab: Rooms 2605, 2606. Tel. (613) 533 6000 ext. 78101
Lab web page: Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology lab page

 

Lecture times: Mondays 08.30-10.00; Thursdays 10.00-11.30
Lab/field trip times: Mondays: 2.30-5.30; Overnight field trip in October
Lab Instructor: Meghan Hamp (E-mail: 19meh1@queensu.ca; Office: Room 2507)
Location: Room 3110, (Labs 3312) Biosciences building

Assessment:
15% Participation in seminar discussions
15% Seminar questions
25% Seminar
15% Field trip discussion participation
30% Final essay

Required textbook: Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. 2011. 2nd edition. Chapin, F.S. III, Matson, P.A. and Vitousek, P. Springer.

Schedule (to be updated throughout the course):
Lecture/Seminar sessions are 80 minutes; Labs up to 3 hours.

Week beginning

Day and time

Convenor

Topic

Reading

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

Introduction to the course 

9 Sept

Monday, 08.30 

Paul 

The Ecosystem Concept 

Chapin et al, Chapter 1: 1-12,17-22. 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB 

Discussion: The Future of Global Agriculture.

Field trip to Bellevue House Kitchen Gardens

Paper: Foley, J et al. (2011). Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature. 478: 337–342.
Video: Foley, J. The Other Inconvenient Truth
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1US4jjWtua8
Video: Food Inc. (accessible via Queen’s library video collection entitled Criterion on Demand at
https://media3-criterionpic-com.proxy.queensu.ca/htbin/wwform/006?T=AL111097

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

The Ecosystem Concept (contd.) and the State Factor Framework for understanding Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology

Chapin et al, Chapter 1: 13-17; Chapter 2: 23-26, 38-41, 50-61 

16 Sept

Monday, 08.30 

Paul 

State Factors to understand Soil Development

Chapter 3: 63-69.

Monday, 2.30 - LAB 

Mara Shaw (Exec. Director - Loving Spoonful)

Local Food Security, Food Waste, Food Education & Political Action

 Loving Spoonful
Cost of Healthy Eating in Kingston (2018) https://www.kflaph.ca/en/healthy-living/Cost-of-Healthy-Eating.aspx

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

Anthropogenic impacts on Soils

Chapter 3: 78-82.

23 Sept

Monday, 08.30 

Paul 

Soil-types, Transformations, and Physical Properties 

Chapin et al, Chapter 3: 73-78, 82-85.

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB 

   

Lab tour, and visit to Miller Geological Museum

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

Soil Chemical Properties 

Chapin et al, Ch. 3: 86-89; Ch. 7: 204-206; Ch. 9: 287-290; 293-296.

30 Sept 
  

Monday, 08.30 

Paul 

The Biology of Soils I

Chapin et al, Chapter 7: 183-190; 243-244; Chapter 9: 271-280 (overview).

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB 

 

Compost and soil biology investigations

 
 

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

The Biology of Soils II

Chapin et al, Chapter 7: 190-194; Chapter 11: 321-324; 333-335.

5 October

Saturday

 

Field trip

Forman Farm with Charlie Forman, Ironwood Organics Farm with Chris Wooding, and QUBS Bracken Tract

7 October

Monday, 08.30 

Harris Ivens

Connecting plants to soil - As above, so below?; An agriculture-less future?

 

Monday, 2.30 - LAB 

Dr. Christian Seiler, Research Scientist, Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Climate and terrestrial ecosystem modelling

Bonan, G. 2018. Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystem Modeling. Chapter 1, especially section 1.7.

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

Decomposition, and Plant-Soil interactions

 Chapin et al, Chapter 7: 194-204; Chapter 8: 229-233, 238-241, 253-255.

14 October

Monday, 08.30 

No class - Thanksgiving holiday

 

Thursday, 10.00 

 Paul

Do the concepts of terrestrial ecosystem ecology that apply to agriculture differ in relative importance between the temperate zone and the tropics? - Case studies from India and Guatemala

20 October

Sunday

 

Field trip

Ravensfield Farm with Titia Posthuma

21 October

Monday, 08.30 

 No class – seminar preparation time

 

Thursday, 10.00 

No class - Fall term Reading Break

28 October

Monday, 08.30 

Ellie Hamburger and Samantha Peacock

Food losses and food waste: What practical changes can you make on a day-to-day basis to be less part of the problem and more part of the solution?

Gustavsson J. et al. 2011. Global food losses and food waste. Report. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Amber Guidice and Olivia Marshall

Will current soil amendments be able to remediate our arable land in order to sustain projected global food demands?

Kammann, C.I. et al. 2015. Plant growth improvement mediated by nitrate capture in co-composted biochar. Scientific Reports 5:11080

4 November

Monday, 08.30 

Nandaraye Choi and Tristan Setoyama

The benefits of vertical agriculture, and how this way of thinking can help us in our current crisis of land availability

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Mike Hann and Thalib Nowshir

Soil organism diversity and its current, past, and potentially future effects in agriculture

11 November

Monday, 08.30 

Jillian Campbell and Tavleen Matharu

 Vertical farming

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Ellie Meldrum and Silvi Raud

 Mycorrhizal interactions

18 November

Monday, 08.30 

Andrew Kusnierczyk and Jeffrey So

 ???

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Andrew Clifford and Gerard Manella

 ???

25 November

Monday, 08.30 

Paul 

Sustaining socio-ecological systems

Chapin et al, Chapter 15, 423-446. 

 

Thursday, 10.00 

Paul 

Synthesis 

 

 

 

Click here to see the course structure and topics addressed in previous years (2007 and 2008, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2019winter)

Last update: 29 October 2019