PCB 5443 ADVANCED ECOLOGY II: Communities and Ecosystems                             Spring 2019

Times:             Tuesdays MMC: 9:15-11:45AM; Thursdays BBC: 9:15-11:45AM

Locations:       MMC OE 222; BBC AC2 218

Instructor:      John Kominoski – office MMC OE 207; 305-348-7117;


Chapin, F.S., P.A. Matson, and P.M. Vitousek. 2011. Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology, 2nd Edition, Springer. ISBN 1441995048;

Weathers, K.C., D.L. Strayer, and G.E. Likens. 2013. Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science, Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-12-088774-3;

Optional:                                                                                                                                          Coleman, D.C. 2010. Big Ecology: The Emergence of Ecosystem Science. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26475-5

Golley, F.B. 1993. A History of the Ecosystem Concept: More Than The Sum of Its Parts, Yale University Press. ISBN 0300055463

Class webpage: I will use Dropbox to distribute documents. Course syllabus, reading list, and assignments can be found at

Date Topic Readings Textbook
  History, Energetics, Biogeochemical Cycles   (bolded = required)
8-10 Jan Course Overview & The Ecosystem Concept Tansley 1935
15-17 Jan Community Development & The Ecosystem Concept Connell and Slayter 1977; Bormann and Likens 1967 C1; W1
Ecosystem Energetics & Trophic Dynamics Lindeman 1942; Hairston et al. 1960 C10; W2-3
22-24 Jan Carbon Cycle (Photosynthesis, GPP, NPP) Chapin et al. 2006; Fourqurean et al. 2012 C5-6; W5-6
Carbon Cycle (Decomposition) Follstad Shah et al. 2017 C7; W4
29-31 Jan Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles Schindler 1977; Slavik et al. 2004; C8-9, C14; W7-8
05-07 Feb Ecological Stoichiometry Hessen et al. 2013; Norby et al. 2010; Rosemond et al. 2015
Exam 1
Foundational Theories
12-14 Feb Niche & Neutral Theories Tilman 2004; Hubbell 2006; Fargione and Tilman 2005; Adler et al. 2007
19-21 Feb Metabolic Theory of Ecology Brown et al. 2004; Schramski et al. 2015; Grady et al. 2019
26-28 Feb Reading Week (No Class)
05-07 March Ecosystem Development Odum 1969; Corman et al. 2018; Kominoski et al. 2018
Exam 2
Integrating Communities & Ecosystems  
19-21 March Biodiversity-Ecosystem Functioning Tilman et al. 2014; Isbell et al. 2017 C11
26-28 March Predator Loss & Trophic Downgrading Schmitz et al. 2007
Disturbance & Socio-Ecological Systems Grimm et al. 2017
02-04 April Ecosystem Stability Ives and Carpenter 2007
Ecosystem Variance Ratajczak et al. 2018 W10-11
Ecosystem Resilience Ratajczak et al. 2017 C12
Spatiotemporal Scales & Predictions
09-11 April Ecosystem Connectivity & Landscapes Polis et al. 1997; Newman et al. 2017 C13
16-18 April Ecosystem Modeling Cuddington et al. 2013; Clark 2005
Exam 3
23 April Final Exams Week (No Final)

Class Notes

Purpose: Provide a common foundation of the history, concepts, theories, and applications of community and ecosystem science for graduate students training to be ecologists. Each class will address a different concept or theory. Two textbooks will be used to provide background material for lectures and discussions of current papers from the primary literature. You may also benefit by access to a general ecology textbook as a reference for things you may have forgotten from your undergraduate classes, as well as the two optional textbooks on historical and modern foundations in ecosystem ecology.

Pedagogy: Classes will contain a balance of lecture and discussion. Class time is used for answering student questions, discussions of the material, and review of core ecological concepts in ecosystems. Students will be required to graph, analyze, and interpret ecosystem data on exams.

Student responsibilities: You are expected to do the assigned reading before class and participate in class discussions throughout the term.  Each student each week must upload to Dropbox a 1-page, single-spaced overview of the assigned readings addressing the following:

  • What general ecological concepts does the readings address?
  • Are these concepts specific to particular ecosystem types or generalizable across ecosystems?  If yes, how?
  • How do the readings advance these concepts?
  • What additional knowledge gaps exist for these concepts?
  • Develop questions to test these knowledge gaps

Grades: There will be three exams. Your performance on these exams will account for 70% of your total grade. Finally, 30% of your grade will be derived from your attendance, 1-page write-ups, as well as participation in readings and class discussions. 

Exams. Exams will consistent of 3-4 essay questions associated with various topics from textbooks and primary literature discussed in class. Students will be required to graph, analyze, and interpret data in order to answer some questions. Exams will be given and completed outside of class. Completed exams are due by 5PM EST/EDT the date of the exam. Exams are closed book.

Participation. Attendance in class in required and essential to obtaining a high grade. Students with excused absences must still submit a 1-page write up to the Dropbox folder for papers discussed in class on the day that the student was absent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s