Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Class size limit:


Typically offered:


This course will examine the last 20,000 years of Maine’s climate and human history. 20,000 years ago Maine was completely covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) rendering the landscape uninhabitable to plants and animals alike. Shortly following the recession of the LIS, humans entered the scene and for thousands of years modified the landscape to better suit their needs. With the arrival of European colonizers came great cultural and biological upheaval: the Great Dying of America’s indigenous populations, introductions of invasive species, and novel agricultural practices. Through the lens of paleoecology, we will explore how Maine’s biological, geological, and cultural landscapes have responded to perturbations through time.

This course explores these changes within a place-based experience on a farm on Marsh Stream in Monroe, Maine. Topics for this course include past environmental change and ecological responses in species, populations, and ecosystem processes; common methods and proxies in paleoecological analyses; ecological principles applied to past organisms; paleohuman influences on the landscape; impacts of European colonization and the pristine myth; and the role of paleoecology in modern conservation efforts.

The class will include weekly lectures, discussion sections, and labs. Labs will include collecting a sediment core, examining different proxies from that core (ie. charcoal, macrofossils, sediment type), identifying evidence of glaciation, examining forest succession, and mapping the historic agricultural landscape. Students will generate and analyze data for a collaborative original research paper and results will be written up in the form of a manuscript for publication.

Students will be evaluated based on discussion leadership for two classes, a lab/field notebook and research updates (including group presentations), a collaborative, publishable-quality manuscript of all research findings, and a final outreach project to share the findings of the semester long study with the broader COA community.


Permission of instructor; co-enrollment in ES1072 Chemistry and Biology of Food and Drink, and MD1023 Integrated Living.

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