Temperate Rainforests: Ecology, Chemistry and Management

Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters

Taught by

forest and plant ecology
ecology, biology, mycology


Two quarters of general biology or ecology and two quarters of general chemistry. Interested students can take a self-corrected quiz to see if their background in chemistry is sufficient.

The Pacific Northwest is home to temperate rainforests, among the most biologically complex ecosystems in the world. How did these forests develop? How do they function? How do human activities affect them? Is sustainable harvest a reality or an oxymoron? We will use a biogeochemical lens to examine these forests, their effects on us and our impacts on them. Topics covered will include forest ecology, ecosystem ecology, soils, mycology, biogeochemistry, sustainable forestry and forest conservation.

In fall quarter, we will explore how forests “work” through studying forest ecosystem science that includes both global and regional perspectives, with a focus on carbon and nutrient cycling. We will also examine the tremendous fungal biodiversity found within temperate rainforests, particularly the local forests of the Pacific Northwest. We’ll cover methods in forest biogeochemical measurement, fungal biology, taxonomy and advanced forest ecology.

Human impacts on temperate rainforests will be the focus of winter quarter. We’ll focus on sustainable forestry, both theory and practice, along with an examination of soils and the life within them, which will deepen our understanding of forest function and the short- and long-term impacts of various forestry practices. These topics will merge as we explore carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems, which is an emerging component of “sustainable” forestry. We will explore current and past controversies in forest ecology related to old-growth forests, spotted owls and other endangered species and biofuels.

Our program time will consist of field work, laboratory work, lectures, workshops and weekly seminars. Expect to research topics in the primary scientific literature and to summarize and share your findings with the entire class. We’ll cover various sampling techniques that are used to measure nitrogen, water and carbon in forested ecosystems. There will be ample opportunities for independent directed work, both individually and in small groups.

In addition to one-day trips regularly scheduled throughout both quarters, there will be a 4-day field trip each quarter. In the fall, we’ll spend four days doing field research in temperate rainforests. In the winter, we’ll tour through the Pacific Northwest and visit a variety of managed and unmanaged forests. Plan to spend a lot of time in the field (and remember that every field day generates 3-4 days of work once we return). Students who may need accommodations for field trips should contact the faculty as soon as possible.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

ecology, public policy, forestry and field research.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online:

Required Fees

$200 in fall for 2 three-day field trips to research sites; $300 in winter for a week-long field trip to sites throughout the Northwest.

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper division science credit will be awarded to all students who demonstrate a solid working understanding of the prerequisites and successfully complete all of the program work.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 10101
Jr - Sr (1-16 credits): 10639

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Accepting New Students


Students interested in joining in winter should have a solid background in general chemistry (see self-corrected quiz in prerequisite), at least one quarter of college-level ecology and familiarity with the forests and dominant tree species of the Pacific Northwest.

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 20074
Jr - Sr (1-16 credits): 20358

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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