Plant Ecology and Physiology

Winter 2022
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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How do plants sense and respond to changes in their external environment? What are the chemical signals produced by plants in response to external stimuli (light, gravity, temperature) and how are these signals amplified within the larger plant community? This program focuses on these questions through the study of individual plants (autecology), the interactions among plants (synecology), and the physiological interactions of plants with their environment (ecophysiology).
Students will learn field and laboratory methods for studying plant community ecology and plant physiology including vegetation sampling methods, methods for measuring plant growth, photosynthesis, water-stress, and tree water-use. Lecture topics will include plant communities; competition and facilitation ecology; plant growth and development; plant hormones; water use; photosynthesis; rooting; and the potential effects of large-scale disturbances, such as climate change, on plant communities. We will apply what we learn about plant physiology to better understand current research in the broader fields of ecosystem and community ecology. Our readings will be divided between current widely used texts in plant physiology and ecology, historical papers of great importance, and current research papers from technical journals.
Local day trips, workshops, labs, and a multi-week field trip will allow us to observe field research on plant physiology, plant restoration, and the plant ecology of diverse environments, as well as conduct student-driven research on plant ecology and physiology. This is also a writing intensive program for technical science writing. Communication skills will be emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences.



One year (greater than 12 credits) of college-level biology, one year (greater than 9 credits) of college-level chemistry, and one year (greater than 9 cumulative credits) of college-level algebra, precalculus, and calculus or statistics. Students with previous credits in botany, taxonomy, ornithology and/or ability to use plant taxonomic keys are especially encouraged.

Winter 2022 Registration

Academic details

Preparatory For

biology, botany, ecology, environmental studies, field studies, natural history, and technical writing.

Maximum Enrollment
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Class Standing

$350 for a multiday field trip. This fee covers transportation and lodging. 

Special Expenses

The required multi day field trip fee does not include food expenses. Students should plan for this expense. 

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper-division science credit may be awarded in Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology, Scientific Writing, and Statistics (I & II) with satisfactory completion of all program work.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Field Trip/Off Campus