Course code:



MA - Intermediate/Advanced

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • ES - Environmental Science

Typically offered:

Upon occasion

Ecosystem ecology is the branch of ecological science that considers the large-scale transfer of matter and energy among different living and non-living compartments in ecosystems. Thinking about the natural world with this level of abstraction has provided critical insights into the processes that support life on Earth, the feedbacks that connect the geosphere and atmosphere to the biosphere, and the ways life is likely to respond to large-scale perturbations such as climate change. In this course, we will explore the deep history of life on earth and how living things have transformed the chemistry of the planet. We will study how energy flows and nutrients cycle in present-day ecosystems, and how these processes are coupled and regulated by the actions of living organisms. Using examples from terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems, we will study how to quantify fluxes of energy and matter. We will analyze the factors that affect rates of ecosystem processes such as plant growth and decomposition in different ecoregions. We will explore the feedbacks that link living and non-living matter into a single complex network. The drivers and ramifications of climate change will be a recurring theme throughout the term. This course will be useful for students interested in global change research, particularly those who plan to pursue graduate degrees in related fields. Students will be assessed based on class participation, a research paper and presentation, and a project on communicating scientific information.


Cellular Processes of Life (or equivalent) AND Ecology, and permission from instructor.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.