Biodiversity and Ecology of Tropical Forests

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 24, 2019 - June 28, 20196/24 - 6/28M-F 8:30A-11:20AOpenKatherine Cushman
Lindsay McCulloch

Course Description

Tropical forests are famous for their plant and animal diversity. What makes tropical forests so diverse, and why does this diversity matter? This course will explore how tropical forest ecosystems function, why tropical forests are globally important, and what the future holds for tropical forests.

The huge number of species living in the tropics makes tropical forests a beautiful and fascinating ecosystem to study. Over millions of years, these organisms evolved complex interactions not only with one another but also with the dynamic environments they inhabit. Tropical forests also have a large influence on the global climate because of a huge amount of carbon, water, and nutrients cycle through tropical forest organisms each year. In this course, we will discuss fundamental ideas behind why tropical forests contain so many species, how species interact with each other and their environment, and why tropical forests are important in the context of a globally changing climate. Students will explore topics in tropical forest ecology through discussion, learning to program with real datasets, scientific literature, and hands-on demonstrations.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
Describe how biodiversity contributes to tropical forest ecosystem function
Understand how tropical forests globally are affected by land use and a changing climate
Perform basic programming tasks in the coding language R
Explain the main goals and conclusions of scientific papers
Propose experiments to answer ecological questions

Prerequisites: High school biology and a general interest in science. Students should have their own laptop for programming lessons.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEES0922
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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