Biology 173: Environmental Biology – Forest Ecosystems and Carbon Cycling

Instructor: Prof. Cindee Giffen



Applications will remain open until all seats are filled. This is a special environmental biology research section of Biology 173 to be held at the UM Biological Station  (4-hours North of Ann Arbor, MI). An additional 1 credit Bio 121 will be offered concurrently with the course for a total of 3 credits enrollment during the spring term.  For questions regarding applications please contact Dr. Lisa Bradshaw at, for questions about the course please contact Prof. Cindee Giffen at
Note that financial aid applications for spring/summer open on February 1, and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis (more information here.) We strongly encourage students who are applying for financial aid to do so as soon as possible. Students must pay regular tuition for spring term credit hours.

umbs-image-4The course runs May 11- June 9, 2020.  You will live at the Biological Station where your room and board is covered by a grant from the UM Provost’s Office. Transportation to and from the UM Biological Station is provided. Note: There may be some class activities on weekends, so students should not plan to leave the station for weekends.

See link for living at the UM Biological Station

Previous research has shown that most forests are carbon sinks, functioning to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which should decrease climate warming. It is unclear how forest carbon sequestration interacts with age and different intensities of disturbance. Do disturbed forests of differing ages sequester more or less carbon than undisturbed forests? How does disturbance alter the carbon cycle in temperate forests?

Students will learn biology laboratory and field techniques through studies conducted on-site at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Projects will focus on measurements of the carbon cycle using research-grade analytical equipment. Your work will be informed by and contribute to on-going research at the FASET (Forest Accelerated Succession Experiment) site and newly funded FORTE (Forest Resilience Threshold Experiment) project that studies why some forests recover from disturbance and others crash. The research faculty team includes Chris Gough, Luke Nave, Chris Vogel and Knute Nadelhoffer.