Field Biology in Spring (Biol 361)

Great Lakes Campus - May Session

Course Description

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 they function and how people have interacted with the organisms there through post-glacial history. The sustainability of human impacts by logging, farming and tourism are evaluated within 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) Field.

Professor: Dr. Dave Dornbos
Meets: Monday-Friday

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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 keys 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 at 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 Nature Area
  • Arcadia Dunes
  • Jordan River Valley
  • Au Sable River
  • Manistee River
  • Kirtland’s Warbler breeding areas
  • Bear Lake Bog
  • Wilderness State Park


Interested in learning more about Field Biology in Spring, and Dr. Dornbos?

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