Courses of Study 2022-2023 
    Jun 23, 2024  
Courses of Study 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PLSCS 4660 - Soil Ecology

Spring. 3-4 credits, variable. Student option grading.

Prerequisite: one year of biology or ecology. PLSCS 2600  is recommended. Co-meets with PLSCS 5660 .

J. Thies.

Soil ecology is the study of soil organisms and their interactions with each other and with their environment. The outcomes of these interactions drive many soil processes, particularly the decomposition of organic matter and the cycling of important plant nutrient elements. Topics that will be covered in this course include the structure and function of the soil sub-system, soil as a habitat for microorganisms, the biology, ecology and diversity of soil organisms, physiological, biochemical and molecular methods for measuring microbial abundance, activity and diversity in soil, and the role of soil microbes in organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling. Readings include the textbook – Gentry et al. (2021) - and current research articles that will introduce students to ecological concepts and recent research methods in soil ecology. The optional laboratory section will focus on the effects of soil management on soil microbial communities using traditional and molecular methods for assessing the abundance, activity and diversity of soil organisms.

Outcome 1: Access and apply concepts in ecology, microbiology, biology and biochemistry as they relate to the study of soil sub-systems.

Outcome 2: Demonstrate knowledge of how the soil biota and their activities contribute to global biogeochemistry, plant productivity and environmental quality.

Outcome 3: Manage the world’s soils to enhance ecosystem services provided by the soil biota.

Outcome 4: Evaluate peer-reviewed research articles and research methods. Identify key concepts and articulate them in a formal research report.

Outcome 5: Lab-only outcome: Identify research questions, apply appropriate methods, gather and analyze data and prepare research reports.

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