BIOLOGY 535 – Tropical Ecology and Conservation

Winter Term (2023)

The tropics are celebrated for their remarkable biodiversity. Indeed, tropical diversity inspired the travels of European naturalists like Alexander von Humboldt, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Charles Darwin, and such renowned artists as Maria Sibylla Merian; and tropical research seeking to understand the factors that underpin and maintain such spectacular biotic richness made significant contributions to the emergence of modern ecology and evolutionary biology. However, tropical ecosystems are also highly threatened. Of the 36 identified biodiversity hotpots, most occur in the tropics within developing nations comprising about 1/3 of the global human population. By 2050, some 50% of the human population will live in tropical countries, bringing even greater pressures on these species and ecosystems. In this course, we will explore diverse tropical ecosystems (e.g. mesophyll forests, cloud forest, dry deciduous forests, cerrado) and keystone species within them. We will discuss factors that shape the distribution of tropical ecosystems and species and hypotheses for variation in species richness. Finally, we will consider the striking conservation challenges facing tropical countries, and evaluate proposed solution from scientific, policy, socioeconomic, and Indigenous Knowledge vantages.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and registration in a Biology Honours Plan (BIOL-M-BSH, BIOL-P-BSH, BIMA-P-BSH, BIPS-P-BSH, BTEC-P-BSH, EBIO-P-BSH) and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the Biological Foundations List or permission of the Department.

Biological Foundations List
BIOL 102/3.0; BIOL 103/3.0; BIOL 200/3.0; BIOL 201/3.0; BIOL 202/3.0; BIOL 205/3.0; BIOL 206/3.0; BIOL 212/3.0; BIOL 300/3.0; BIOL 330/3.0; BIOL 334/3.0; BIOL 339/3.0; BIOL 341/3.0; BIOL 302/3.0; BIOL 303/3.0.

Class time and location

Course website:

Instructor: Dr. Stephen Lougheed
Office address: Biosci 4428
Office hours: By appointment

Evaluation: To come