Master of Science in Ecology and Evolution

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  • Course description
    Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers has a long and distinguished history. The graduate program includes approximately 80 faculty and 60 graduate students. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and offers graduate education and training in microbial, plant, animal, and human ecology under the direction of outstanding faculty located at three campuses (New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden);

    Candidates with a baccalaureate degree may apply for the Master's (M.S.)

    Advanced Plant Systematics (4)
    Prerequisites: Principles of Botany or Vascular Plant Systematics.
    A broad, evolutionary overview of major groups of vascular plants, from club mosses and ferns to conifers and flowering plants. Principles of classification and field identification, morphology and basic concepts in evolutionary studies in botany. Independent project.

    Conservation Ecology (3)
    An examination of the underlying causes of the major threats to ecosystems and species. Biological, social and economic factors are considered. Changing worldviews and possibilities for constructive response.

    Population Genetics (3)
    Prerequisite: Genetics, Statistics.
    Factors affecting genetic frequency patterns and changes in populations, and an introduction to the analysis of continuously distributed polygenic traits.

    Landscape Ecology (3)
    Landscape ecology is the study of landscape patterns, the interactions among the elements of pattern, how patterns and interactions change over time, and the application of these principles in the formulation and solving of real-world problems. Thus, landscape ecology is defined best by its focus on spatial heterogeneity and pattern; specifically, how to characterize it, where it comes from, why it matters, how it changes through time, and how we manage it.   This course provides a comprehensive introduction and overview of the field of landscape ecology by coupling theory and concepts with illustrated applications in the computer lab to provide hands-on practical experience using state-of-the-art landscape analysis tools.

    Ecology of Invasions (3)
    Current literature on invasion ecology and invasive species is examined in this seminar that emphasizes critical analysis and integration with current ecological and evolutionary theory.

    Advanced Evolution (1)

    Journal club in evolution including examination of major elements of organismal evolutionary theory. Emphasis on phylogenetics, genetic variation, natural selection, adaptation, and speciation. Demonstration of methodology and software programs

    Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (3)
    One 80-min. lec. one 280-min. lab. Quantitative analysis and understanding of the ecology, management, and conservation of game and non-game wildlife (terrestrial and aquatic). Population censusing and dynamics, harvesting, habitat requirements and fragmentation, conservation genetics, and managing protected areas.

    Community Dynamics (4)

    Patterns and processes involving sets of two or more coexisting species. Theoretical and empirical studies.

    Quantitative Ecology and Evolution (3)
    Prerequisites: Calculus.
    A survey of the application of multivariate statistical methods to the analysis of problems in ecology and evolution. Topics covered include cluster analysis, ordination, discriminant function analysis, canonical correlation, multivariate analysis of variance, and analysis of repeated measures.

    Introduction to Ecological and Environmental Modeling (3)
    Prerequisites: College-level calculus and basic statistics.
    Review of the background mathematical and statistical tools necessary in pursuing ecological and environmental modeling. General model formulation, validation, hypothesis testing, non-linear phenomena, and forecasting.

    Ecosystem Modeling, Quantitative Analysis for Ecosystem Management (3)
    Prerequisite: Intro. to Ecological and Environmental Modeling.
    Quantifying major ecosystem functions based on current knowledge and understanding of ecosystem processes and their interactions from cell to ecosystem scales. Major approaches on modeling photosynthesis, respiration, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, energy balance, stomal conductance and leaf area index will be introduced. Application of models to ecosystem management and global environment change will also be discussed.

    Topics in Advanced Ecology (3)
    Literature review and synthesis of a selected current topic in applied or theoretical ecology.

    Concepts and Methods in Evolution (4)
    Lecture and field survey of selected concepts in evolutionary biology. Different professors present a broad overview of key evolutionary principles.
    Topics include a survey of life, population variation, genetic structure of populations, speciation, taxonomy and phylogenetics among others.

    Concepts and Methods in Ecology (4)
    An in-depth investigation of at least three current topics in ecology. Topics include both theoretical and applied examples; field work, lab exercises and term papers.

    Seminar in Ecology (1)
    Introductory seminar required for all first year Ph.D. and M.S. Ecology and Evolution students.

    Special Topics in Ecology (BA)
    Topics vary by semester. Current listing can be found on the on-line schedule of classes and a synopsis of the classes will be listed below in the semester they are offered.
    Topics in the past have included: Microbial Ecology; Selfish Genetic Elements; Field Ecology; Biology of the Ericaceae; Environmental and Cultural Behavior; Bayesian Statistics; Ecological Networks and Experimental Ecology.

    Special Topics classes:
    Trees and the Environment (3 credits)
    Trees and the environment explores how trees deal with such practical matters as standing up against environmental forces, how light, water and geography influence tree form and structure, and how those forms change over an individual’s life. How such environmental loads influence forest canopy type and structure is discussed. As topics are introduced, discussions of how one might measure responses will develop. We will also discuss how these concepts can inform management decisions, once the definition of management goal it is clear. As such, the class can act as a background for further study in, site productivity, reforestation and ecological restoration techniques, sustainable wood production, wildlife habitat enhancement, watershed protection, and the maintenance of biological diversity.  

    Population Ecology (3 credits)
    A basic understanding of the biology of single species populations is an essential part of ecological literacy. This course will use a “hands on” approach combining real world examples and data together with explorations of model populations using R to provide insights about basic population processes and quantitative approaches. Topics will include continuous-time and discrete-time population growth models, estimation of population growth rates, survivorship analysis, life tables, age- and stage-specific population projection matrices, complex population dynamics in simple and stage-structured populations, alternate population models, population viability analysis, and metapopulation dynamics.

    Statistical Analysis Using "R" (3 credits)
    This course is designed to introduce students to the R computing language and to basic statistical tests and methods. R concepts will include saving and reading data, writing scripts, plotting data, and basic data analysis. R is freely available; hence familiarity with this language facilitates data analysis anywhere in the world, at any institution.
    Statistical topics covered will include probability, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, linear regression, and contingency tables. These are elementary statistical concepts which should be readily familiar to every practicing Ecologist and/or Evolutionary Biologist.
    While this will be a rigorous course, it will not cover any of the above topics in depth; indeed, each of these topics could easily be the subject of an entire course. However, upon successful completion of the course, a student will be able to write a script in R, conduct a simple analysis, and interpret the results. The course will furnish students with a sufficient background to learn more advanced concepts on their own as needs arise.
    Requirements: None. A laptop computer with internet access is highly recommended. Undergraduate courses in calculus, statistics, and linear algebra would be useful but are not necessary.

    Evolution of Disease and Medicine
    (3 credits)
    Basic concepts in the theory of evolution will be introduced and applied in the context of discussion of human and animal disease and the medical treatment thereof.  The course will cover infectious and non-infectious diseases and real-world applications of evolutionary theory to the practice of medicine. Gradute students will meet for a separate session prior to the undergraduate class.

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