In Biological Sciences .
Ecologists study the interactions between organisms and environments, and the consequences of those interactions at the individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels. Evolutionary biologists document the history of organisms through study of the tree of life and the fossil record as well as through study of processes that have resulted in adaptation, phenotypic variation, and biotic diversity. The study of ecology has greatly enhanced our understanding of both natural ecosystems and how those systems are changing due to human impacts, and evolutionary biology has deeply altered our understanding of the origins of plants and animals, including humans.
Learning in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (E&EB) concentration is not confined to the classroom and lab. In “Field Ecology,” for example, students spend one afternoon each week in the fields, forests, and ponds of the area, investigating animals and plants by observation and experiment. In many of our courses (e.g. Ichthyology, Ornithology, Limnology, Stream Ecology) students also participate in field trip and short field-based projects. E&EB students can also earn credit for off-campus field courses, such as courses at Shoals Marine Lab and through the Organization for Tropical Studies. Hands-on laboratory work is a basic feature of many courses. Quantitative methods are used in laboratory and field research and in theoretical studies, and molecular biology is increasingly important in all areas of ecology and evolutionary biology.
With its broad range of faculty research, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology offers students many opportunities to participate in original field and lab-based research. Undergraduates can do research either as a member of a research team, or independently under the guidance of a faculty member.
Graduates from this concentration have entered a wide variety of careers. Many go on to graduate school in ecology or evolutionary biology. Others take jobs with government agencies doing conservation work, management, or environmental education, or with non-governmental organizations such as the Nature Conservancy or the World Wildlife Fund. Students have also used their background as a way to enter careers in environmental law, journalism, medicine, and business. This concentration provides insights and perspectives that enrich students’ lives regardless of their career path.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Requirements
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology concentrators must take BIOEE 1610 or BIOSM 1610 as one of the courses used to fulfill the core course requirement for the Biology major. In addition, they must also take at least 13 credit hours with at least one course each from Groups A, B, and C.
Group A - Foundation:
Students more focused on ecology should take BIOEE 3610 and students more focused on evolution should select from the other courses listed. We strongly recommend students get exposure to both evolution and ecology within their concentration.
Group C - Ecological and Evolutionary Systems:
Students are encouraged to gain experience in some aspect of field biology through course work at a biological field station and can apply up to 6 credits in the place of courses from Groups B or C. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology concentrators may apply credits from:
a) Courses in Groups B and C taken at the Shoals Marine Laboratory (BIOSM).
b) Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Undergraduate Semester Abroad Program (3 credits each for Fundamentals in Tropical Biology and Field Research in Tropical Biology for a total of 6 credits).
c) Any other field course, with approval from their academic advisor and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Director of Undergraduate Studies.