Current Classes

Earth 115: The Emerald Planet

This minicourse explores the major events in the co-evolution of plants and the Earth. Topics include: how plants moved onto land, the rise of the first forests, the invention of flowers and their impact on animals, and how plants bring about and respond to environmental change. These events set the stage for the world we live in, with impacts on how the planet and terrestrial life function.

Earth/Environ 431: Terrestrial Biomes past, present and future

While biomes are the major organizing feature of terrestrial ecosystems, dependent on the organisms, ecosystems and climate of the planet, the details of these environments have changed over the history of our planet and will continue to do so. To understand fully the impacts of shifting biomes and anthropogenic climate change, we need to also understand the assembly of past environments. This course focuses on the plant primary producers as it surveys important biological innovations, examples of past ecosystems from the fossil record, the relevance of climate to terrestrial environments, and the changing world of today and tomorrow.*This class also fulfills the ULWR.

Earth 432: Plant Paleobiology (offered Winter term of odd years)

This course explores the 500 million year long evolution and ecology of plants as recorded in the fossil record. Plants are essential to terrestrial ecosystems on both long and short time scales. Fossils provide us with evidence for novel biological innovations, the origin and diversification of different plant lineages, and for plant-biosphere-atmosphere-geosphere interactions that shape and regulate climates and environments on our planet. Labs will offer an opportunity to apply different paleontological techniques to interpret data and to study specimens of the different plant groups discussed. Topics to be covered include: origin of land plants and major groups, the Devonian revolution, mass extinctions and their impact on plants, using plants to reconstruct past ecosystems, and interactions between plants and their environment.