University of Vermont

NR 205 Syllabus - Spring 2008
The University of Vermont
The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
NR 205 -- Ecosystem Management:
Integrating Science, Society and Policy
Course Syllabus, Spring 2008
Instructor: Dr. Mary C. Watzin
Office: Aiken Center, Room. 353, Phone: 656-2692
Rubenstein Lab Room 200, Phone: 859-3086
Office Hours: T/TH 8:00 - 10:45 a.m. (most days). Other times can be arranged by appointment. Don't be shy about contacting me!
Teaching Assistants: Erin Haney
Jamie Ferro
  Office Room: Aiken Room 219A Aiken Room 210
  Phone: Phone: 656-3288 Phone: 656-2243
  Office Hours: Both Erin and Jamie work regularly in their offices; feel free to come by anytime. If they are not there, arrange an appointment by e-mail.
Meeting Time and Place: Stafford Building, Room 101
  T/TH 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Required Materials:
There is no textbook for this course. Course readings will be made available on the course web site. Additional materials will be distributed in class and placed on reserve in Bailey-Howe Library.
Course Description and Objectives:
This course builds upon the knowledge of natural and social sciences gained in the previous four core courses and challenges you to begin integrating information, concepts and tools to address natural resource and environmental issues from an ecosystem perspective. Through lectures, readings, class discussions, case studies, and problem solving exercises, you will learn more about ecosystem science and management policies and approaches, and then apply your knowledge to identify management principles that are consistent with a more holistic ecosystem approach.
We begin by reviewing ecosystem science and exploring how to recognize degraded and healthy ecosystems. We will discuss the notion of managing for ecosystem integrity and how system integrity can be defined and measured. Approaches that consider people as integral parts of the ecosystem and the role of ecosystems in providing goods and services for people will be explicitly addressed. We will review classic approaches to natural resource management and consider the ways in which environmental policies can facilitate or discourage integration. Finally, we will explore how an adaptive management plan that is consistent with an integrated, ecosystem perspective might be developed and applied.
Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:
1. Describe the concept of "ecosystem" and the advantages and constraints of using ecosystems as a management unit.
2. Identify characteristics that might indicate a healthy ecosystem.
3. Recognize traits that might indicate a degraded ecosystem or an ecosystem potentially at risk.
4. Describe some traditional environmental management approaches and their strengths and weaknesses.
5. Develop management goals and objectives that consider sustainability as the core objective of ecosystem management.
6. Recognize the constraints and opportunities for ecosystem management within current U.S. environmental management policy.
7. Apply natural science and social science knowledge and analytical tools in an adaptive management framework to address environmental issues.
Course Requirements
There will be two tests during the semester, a comprehensive final examination, and three homework/writing assignments at regular intervals over the course of the semester.
Grading will be as follows:
Mid-term Exam 25%
Final Exam 30%
Homework/Writing Assignments 35%
Attendance, In class activities and participation 10%
Additional information about each homework assignment will be provided in class. There will be one assignment with each major section of the syllabus. Not all assignments will be equally weighted. At least two weeks notice will be given for major assignments, but short assignments (free writes on readings or short exercises designed to prepare you for a class discussion) will have shorter deadlines. Assignments submitted after the due date will be penalized one letter grade per day except in extremely unusual circumstances (advanced arrangement required).
I expect students to come to class regularly and we will take attendance periodically. It is not realistic to expect to master the course content without participating in classroom activities.
Academic Integrity:
I expect all students to adhere to UVM's code on academic honesty. Violations are serious offenses and can result in expulsion from the University. Although I encourage all students to discuss material and ideas freely among yourselves and with me, all work submitted for grading must be strictly your own.
Course Outline and Schedule
Topics Dates Covered

1. Introduction to Ecosystem Management Jan. 15 - Jan. 22
- what is ecosystem management?  
- the evolution of ecosystem management in the US  
- sustainability science  
2. The ecosystem as a basis for management Jan. 24 - Feb. 5
- issues of context and scale in ecology  
- succession, disturbance and the mosaic of patches  
- ecosystem stability and resilience  
- diversity and complexity  
Humans as part of ecosystems  
- species-area relationships; sharing the planet  
- ecosystem goods and services  
- local, regional, and global impacts to (uses of) ecosystems  
- global climate change and management  
3. Degraded and healthy ecosystems Feb. 7 - Feb. 21
Degraded ecosystems  
- characteristics of degraded ecosystems  
- factors that influence the magnitude of human stresses - type, intensity, duration, frequency, timing, and scale of impacts  
- stressor-response relationships, criteria for evaluating causal relationships  
Healthy ecosystems - how do we know one when we see it?  
- natural variation, ecosystems as dynamic entities  
- ecosystem health as a metaphor  
- the notion of sustainability  
- characteristics of good ecological indicators  
- selecting indicators for use in management  
Mid-term Examination Feb. 28
Town Meeting Day (no Class) March 4
Spring Break (no Class) March 10 - 14
4. Traditional environmental management policies and approaches Feb. 26 - Mar. 25
- history of land tenure in the U.S.  
- sustained yield of forested systems  
- managing people in parks and wilderness - the notion of carrying capacity  
- managing populations of fish and wildlife, including Endangered Species  
- air and water quality standards as a basis of management  
     (Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act  
- NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act  
- federal agency mandates: constraints and opportunities for ecosystem management  
5. Moving towards ecosystem management Mar. 27 - Apr.. 10
Defining the management unit  
- ecoregions, watersheds, and human communities  
- issues of scale - do political and natural boundaries coincide?  
- managing across air, land, and water  
Human perspectives  
- determining natural resource values  
- balancing human needs and desires with ecosystem capacities  
- community involvement in management decision-making  
- reconciliation approaches  
- environmental justice and intergenerational equity  
Management challenges  
- strategic planning for complex systems  
- multiple objectives, stakeholders and advocacy  
- understanding uncertainty  
6. A goal-based, adaptive management approach Apr. 15 - Apr. 24
Goals and objectives for management  
- formulating goals around the concept of sustainability  
- writing measurable objectives  
- appropriate vehicles for societal input  
- defining measures of success so that people will know what has been achieved  
Adaptive Management  
- management as experimentation, learning as you go  
- the iterative approach: monitor, reassess and reformulate  
- sustainability science  
7. The future of Ecosystem Management April 29
- a better legal and policy framework for management  
- transboundary cooperation and global learning  
Final Examination (Tuesday, 8:00 a.m.) May 6


Last modified March 25 2008 08:16 AM

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