Ecology Course Blog


Course twitter feed


Pictures from previous classes (click to enlarge)

Surveying vegetation at the Lehigh experimental forest plantation 2011 (Photo: Douglas Benedict)

River structure and ecology 2011

Sampling river macroinvertebrates 2011

Identifying river macroinvertebrates 2011

Island Beach in 2010

2009 Class at Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary

2009 class quantifying forest vegetation at South Mountain.

2009 class studying dune ecology at Island Beach State Park, NJ

2009 class hiking ridge over the Delaware River at Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary.


2009 Class in Hellertown "Swamp."


2008 class identifying trees in preparation for forest ecology lab.


2008 class studying dune ecology at Island Beach, NJ

2007 class celebrating with their TA










Ecology, EES-152, 4 credits

**Offered Every Fall Semester**

Course description

The study of relationships among organisms and their physical environment. Ecology of individual organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems, landscapes, and the biosphere. Topics include organism adaptations and natural selection, life histories, population growth and dynamics, species interactions, energy flow, nutrient cycling, and ecological impacts of human activities. Field-based laboratories focus on the quantitative study of biological populations and communities. Lectures, field-based laboratories, and applied activities.

Course objectives

    1. Gain an appreciation of relationships between organisms and their environment at the individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels.
    2. Understand the various approaches and methods that ecologists use to study these relationships at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, including spatial scales ranging from individual organisms to the biosphere, and temporal scales ranging from hours to millennia.
    3. Become familiar with the application of ecological principles to the management and restoration of ecosystems.

Course structure

The course uses a combination of traditional lectures, discussions, and case-study activities utilizing figures and datasets culled from the primary literature. The lab portion is dominated by field exercises, including a multi-week investigation of forest communities, population ecology utilizing a range of sampling techniques, bioindication using river macroinvertebrate communities, and a tree demography project. Several shorter projects and one weekend trip expose students to the structure and function of a range of ecosystems (e.g., coastal dunes, rivers, wetlands). Both the field and laboratory activities in the course are designed to develop analytical and quantitative skills (e.g., regression, basic statistics, mathematical modeling) as well as collaborative learning.

More information on some of these activities can be found here:

Functional traits and ecological succession on Lehigh University's Tangled Bank:

Lehigh University's Experimental Forest:

Other stuff:



Ricklefs, R. & R. Relyea.  2014.  Ecology: the economy of nature.  7th Edition.  W.H. Freeman & Company.

Example schedule (Fall 2014)

8/25 M

Course overview, Introduction to ecology and evolution

8/25 M LAB- Overview of lab expectations. GPS and tree identification.
8/27 W Introduction to ecology and evolution
8/29 F Life, species, and the physical environment
8/29 M

Life on land - climate, soils, and biomes


9/01 M LAB - Forest Ecology: investigations in the Lehigh Experimental Forest
9/03 W Life in water - oceans and lakes
9/05 F Life at the interface of land and water - wetlands
9/08 M Evolution and adaptation. Autecology.
9/08 M LAB - Forest Ecology: investigations in the Lehigh Experimental Forest
9/10 W Autecology: temperature relations
9/12 F Activity/Discussion
9/15 M Autecology: temperature and water relations
9/15 M LAB - Forest Ecology in the Lehigh Forest Plantation. Plant identification quiz.
9/17 W Autecology: water and energy relations
9/19 F Autecology: energy and nutrient relations
9/22 M Activity/Discussion
9/22 M ***EXAM 1***
9/24 W Life histories
9/26 F Reproductive strategies and behavioral ecology
9/28 (Sun) *All-day field trip: Dune Ecology at Island Beach State Park, NJ*
9/29 M Behavioral ecology
9/29 M LAB - Data assimulation and Behavioral Ecology Activity
10/01 W Population ecology: population structure and distribution
10/03 F Activity/Discussion
10/06 M Pacing break - no class
10/06 M Pacing break - no lab
10/08 W Population ecology: genetics
10/10 F Population ecology: dynamics and growth
10/13 M Population ecology: mathematical models
10/13 M LAB - Population ecology in the Lehigh Experimental Forest
10/15 W Interactions: Competition and mathematical models of competition
10/17 F Interactions: Exploitation and predator-prey dynamics
10/20 M

Interactions: Predator satiation


10/20 M LAB - River community ecology
10/22 W Interactions: Mutualisms
10/24 F Activity/Discussion
10/27 M Community ecology: structure
10/27 M LAB - River community ecology analyses
10/29 W Community ecology: dynamics
10/31 F Ecosystems: primary production and energy flow
11/03 M Activity/Discussion
11/03 M **Exam II**
11/05 W Ecosystems: energy flow and nutrient cycling
11/07 F Ecosystems: nutrient cycling
11/10 M Activity/Discussion
11/10 M LAB – Population demography in the Lehigh Experimental Forest
11/12 W Ecological succession and ecosystem development
11/15 F Activity/Discussion
11/17 M Biogeography
11/17 M LAB – Population demography analyses
11/19 W Biogeography and extinction
11/24 M Activity/Discussion
11/24 M Ecosystem and community development
11/24 M LAB - Landscape ecology, GIS, and conservation (computer lab)
11/26 W Thanksgiving break
11/28 F Thanksgiving break
12/01 M Paleoecology and historical ecology
12/01 M LAB - Growth and Competition group presentations
12/03 W Global ecology and human impacts
12/05 F Global ecology and human impacts
12/10-12/18 FINAL EXAM


Image from 2011 article describing forest ecology work on South Mountain. From Lehigh's alumni bulletin (Fall 2011). Click image to download article.