Matthew Drennan

Courses Taught


The study of ornithology is as old as human society itself. Birds are particularly conspicuous elements of our world, and figure prominently in our art, religious symbolism, mythology, scientific endeavors and even sport. Birds appear in European paleolithic cave paintings from 14,000 years ago, domesticated fowl are known from India circa 3000 BC, and ancient scholars such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder devoted considerable time to ornithological observations. In this century great strides have been made in the study of population biology and ecology, navigation and migration, and human induced ecological change (sometimes called human ecology), all through the study of birds. This class introduces the student to the ornithological world by using both scientific literature and direct field observation. Systematics and physiology will be reviewed, but much of our effort will concentrate on reproductive ecology, behavior and the environment, and population dynamics. There will be a strong emphasis on field observation - learning how to look at birds and their behavior in order to perhaps make larger observations about their environment. Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $75. Class limit: 24. *ES*

MD043Penguins to Polar Bears: Journeys Across the Ice

This course is a general introduction to the Arctic and Antarctica. We will begin by examining the unique ecologies of the polar regions by reviewing the life histories of some iconic polar creatures - Polar bear, Arctic tern, Emperor penguin and others. This ecological framework will provide a backdrop for our review of the history of exploration in these harsh regions. The search for the Northwest Passage and the quest for the Poles captured western attention for hundreds of years, and the stories of hardship, heroism, absurdity, and sheer luck are compelling. The course concludes with an examination of the human ecology of both poles - politics, resource exploitation, tourism and the rapid climate changes affecting both regions. Assessment will be based on classroom participation, several short papers, and an independent research project. Level: Introductory. Class limit: 15