Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

Aldridge Lab - Teaching and Guest Lectures


Courses Taught

Spring 2014, Spring 2015                 “ESS330 – Quantitative Reasoning for Ecosystem Sciences

This course provides an overview of ecosystem analysis using models and data, emphasizing critical thinking skills, and quantitative representation of interactive systems.  The wisdom of decisions on sustainable management of ecosystems depends on using data to evaluate alternative policies and actions. Our understanding of how ecosystems work requires that we bring data together with models. This course is about how to use quantitative information to judge the validity of hypotheses concerning ecosystem structure, function, and sustainable management.  Dr. Michael Lefsky co-taught this class with me in 2014, and Dr. Sunil Kumar co-taught this class with me in 2015.

Fall 2014, repeated in even years                     “ESS565 – Niche Models”


The objectives of this course are to allow the student to understand the breadth of statistical algorithms used in niche modeling and to have a strong conceptual understanding of how each model works.  Niche models are known by a variety of names including species distribution models, habitat relationship models, bioclimatic envelopes, and others.  The concepts and application of these models are not new, although there are many new statistical algorithms to estimate niche relationships.  They all rely on the concept of the niche—the set of environmental conditions in which a species can survive and persist.  They are particularly topical today because of concerns over the effects of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species, on the distribution and abundance of native species.  In this 4-credit graduate class, students gain insights into the available statistical algorithms, learn how to use these approaches and how they differ from each other, understand data/sampling requirements, and make informed decisions about which models are best given a specific question and data structure.  Students work directly with data in labs to apply and use the various modeling approaches.

Fall 2013                     “ECOL592 – Sagebrush Steppe Vulnerability to Climate Change

This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to studying the vulnerability of sagebrush steppe ecosystems to the effects of climate change. We first build a foundation of understanding of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem and climate predictions for region. Then, informed by land managers collaborating with us, students work in small teams to develop portions of a vulnerability assessment. The course was one node of a distributed graduate seminar being led by Peter Adler at Utah State University. I co-taught this class with Dr. Cini Brown.

Fall 2013                “ECOL592 – Niche Models

The course is a broad-ranging graduate seminar course designed to expose students to the variety of quantitative and statistical techniques available to assess wildlife-habitat relationships, and the ‘niche concept,’ including assessing the effects of anthropogenic developments on critical habitat needs for wildlife populations.  This is a class that I originally developed and taught with Dr. Barry Noon in Fall 2009, and co-taught in Spring 2011 with Dr. Sunil Kumar, and again in Fall 2012 & Fall 2013 with Drs. Noon and Kumar.  

Fall 2010                     “RS351 – Ecosystems Processes in a Changing World

Students learned the general principles of ecosystem ecology and some of the measurement techniques used to measure ecosystem components.  We examined how natural and anthropogenic drivers/disturbances affect ecosystem processes and the services these systems provide.  This class emphasizes a systems approach to understanding and managing ecosystems undergoing change.  We consider humans as integral components of ecosystems, assessing the effects of human impacts on natural systems.  We apply concepts we learned in the class, to understand ecosystem functioning and drivers of change for non–forested ecosystems of the world.

Spring 2010                 “NR 680 – Ecological Careers I: a career portfolio

I co-taught this class Dr. Lara Prihodko.  The course provides students interested in an ecological career in environmental sustainability through academia, business, non-profits or government, with the opportunity to develop a plan for a career portfolio. Students will learn about funding opportunities, the need for effective communication skills, broadening the impact of their research, academic and non-academic ecological careers, activities that support diversity, the publication process, opportunities at CSU for interdisciplinary training, resume/CV development, networking, and balancing career and family.

 Guest Lectures (Coming soon...)