ENV 674b () / 2023-2024

Forest Ecosystem Health and Stability in a Changing Climate

Credits: 3

Spring 2024: M,W, 4:00-5:20, Marsh Rotunda

This course is an introduction to the broad suite of biotic and abiotic agents that structure the health, sustainability, and stability of forested systems. Topics will include native and exotic insects, pathogens, parasites, pollutants, large-scale disturbances, and management in the context of a changing climate in North America. Emphasis will be placed on exploring insect impacts and invasions. Using a case study approach, several different forest types are examined in detail with students interacting with research and management professionals who visit the class in person or via remote conferencing. Students learn concepts and methods of assessing forest health, as well as some of the challenges in describing and defining forest health in the important but often poorly defined concept of ecological stability. The course emphasizes the ecological roles played by disturbance agents (both biotic and abiotic), discusses how they affect the health and sustainability of forest ecosystems, and explores when, how, and if management can be used to improve forest health and/or forest sustainability to manage or mitigate disturbance agents. The course provides students with the necessary background to determine how different stressors may negatively impact management objectives, to identify the probable stress agents, and to decide what, if any, actions should be initiated to protect forest health and sustainability. The course includes several field trips and workshops on Fridays and the weekends, and will include one afternoon lab on forest entomology.