Students on Melosira with fish

At the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory, faculty and staff provide experiential learning experiences in a range of courses that prepare students for summer internships and careers in consulting, management, and research. Students are in the field and in the laboratory gaining practical, hands-on experience with sampling techniques and laboratory benchwork.


NR 250 Limnology

Limnology class on Melosira on Lake Champlain

Students explore lakes as ecosystems and habitat for aquatic life, including phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthos and fish. Weekly labs introduce students to standard field and laboratory methodologies and basic plankton taxonomy. Students study Lake Champlain from UVM's research vessel Melosira and smaller lakes from small watercraft and canoes.

NR 280 Stream Ecology

Two students measuring stream

Stream Ecology provides an introduction to the structure and functions of streams and rivers, exploring the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of these critical ecosystems. Examination of streams and rivers is from an ecological perspective with a focus on the implications for management and policy.

WFB 117 Scientific Communication

Students learn and practice the foundations of scientific communication, with an emphasis on writing, editing, creating figures and tables, interpreting data, searching the literature, and synthesizing the literature. Students will develop practical, hands-on skills to more effectively communicate scientific information. At the end of this course, students are able to critically evaluate scientific publications, present/translate scientific information to different audiences, and synthesize a given body of literature and identify critical hypotheses and/or information gaps.

WFB 161 Fisheries Biology and Techniques

Students with beach net in lake

Students are introduced to the biology of freshwater fishes, including their basic taxonomy, habitats, life history, behavior, and ecology. Major emphasis is on practical experiences during weekly laboratories, including hands-on sampling with gill nets and trawls on UVM's research vessel Melosira, and use of beach seines, trap nets, and electrofishing. Students learn to identify the common species of fishes in Vermont.

WFB 232 Ichthyology

Two small fish

Ichthyology is the study of fishes. This course focuses on form and function, comparative anatomy, systematics, sensory systems, behavior, life history, genetics, and ecology. Students learn the key taxonomic characteristics of each of the orders of fishes.

WFB 261 Fisheries Management

Student holding fish on Melosira

This course introduces students to the scientific, social, and political aspects of fisheries management. On the technical side, students will learn to apply and evaluate different harvest restriction methods (e.g., size limits, catch limits, refuges, and catch shares), and compute and interpret population metrics (e.g., recruitment, growth, size- and age-structure) and harvest models (e.g., stock-recruit, yield-per-recruit). On the socio-political side, students will explore and evaluate the human constructs of who, how, and why fisheries are managed as they are, and under what conditions these constructs vary (or not) across fisheries.