Active learning modules for general ecology courses

Experience, Reflection, Abstraction, Testing

Click on the corresponding tab to view the modules for each section.

View  Nuts and bolts of biomes
Learn the fundamental characteristics of biomes, integrate the knowledge of biomes, and understand how species adaptation would occur by creating an “ideal� organism for a particular biome. Understand how human impacts can affect organisms through a perturbation in their model.

View  Forest Biome Lab
Students get out in the field, experience and understand forest climate, structure, decomposition, soil, species identification and the role of disturbances. The lab is set-up to be done in either groups of students, or alone.

View The Shortgrass Steppe Biome
The goal of this lab is to get students out in the field and guide them in their discovery and understanding of the shortgrass steppe biome (their local biome in Fort Collins). The lab includes a short reading assignment, a self-guided visit to the Shortgrass Steppe LTER site to collect data. They construct of a model that demonstrates interactions among plants, animals, and the environment.


"Even Parasites know it's imporatant!"

View  Can Parasites Indicate Host Biodiversity?
In this module students learn what biodiversity is, how to measure biodiversity, and why biodiversity is important. They develop abilities to calculate measures of biodiversity, including species richness, abundance, heterogeneity, and evenness. They develop an understanding on parasites and their dependence on ‘host’ species. Students use models to represent a natural system


View Modeling Disease Ecology
In this module, the students learn key concepts in infectious disease epidemiology. The methods are illustrated by "hands-on" experience: the aim is to develop a measles vaccination program for the mountain gorillas. The students apply a basic mathematical model to find parameters for the infectious disease and interpret the effects of the vaccination program.

View Lotka-Volterra Predator-Prey Models
In this learning module, you will be able to explore deterministic and stochastic versions of four variations of the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model using a computer program designed for this purpose.


View Habitat Fragmentation
This module includes definitions of habitat fragmentation at different levels and the consequences of human induced fragmentation on an ecosystem. Students learn the idea of how habitat fragmentation affects ecosystem health and connect class ideas to their own surrounding environments.


View Life history theory: A case study with the orange-crowned warbler
Organisms exhibit an incredible diversity of reproductive strategies, and the study of life history evolution seeks to understand how patterns of reproductive investment and behavior evolve in response to different ecological conditions. Here, we compare Orange-crowned Warbler populations that breed on islands with different levels of food and nest predation to understand how these ecological factors shape their parental behavior.


View Conservation Biology in a Virtual World: Simulating the interaction between animals and habitat loss and fragmentation.
Habitat loss and fragmentation will affect different animal species differently depending on their behavior and physiology. How would the altered distribution of vegetation affect an herbivore ability to survive? Students explore this question using a simulation model of individual herbivores and the vegetation they feed upon.


View Ecological Resilience: an active learning module about ecosystem change
By demonstrating response diversity and physical resilience of a hand-made structure, this module provides an introduction to the less concrete idea of the resilience of social-ecological systems. Students conduct an experiment that tests the function of structures when disturbed and how that relates to the response diversity of different structures.