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    Vassar College
  Dec 15, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ESCI 379 - Conservation Paleobiology

1 unit(s)
Humans currently and pervasively impact many (if not all) of Earth’s ecosystems. Two major challenges in modern conservation efforts are our lack of a well-defined baseline for pre-disturbance ecological conditions and an incomplete understanding of the natural range of variability for different systems. This discussion based course explores how paleontological data in both terrestrial and marine environments (e.g., varved lake deposits, rodent middens, marine fossil deposits, and archaeological material) can be used to help set restoration targets and inform conservation practices by filling in these knowledge gaps. We also gain experience interpreting geohistorical data, and discuss several specific case studies where the geologic record has been utilized to inform conservation planning. By the end of the course, students are aware of the range of different types of information that can be gathered from the geohistorical record (such as burn regimes and climate records, as well as inferences about paleo-diets and changing environmental conditions), the unique contributions of this record to increasing understanding of current conservation issues, and the impacts that humans have on ecosystems. Students additionally complete a semester term paper on how geohistorical records could be applied to mitigate a conservation problem, and present their findings and suggestions to the class. 

Not offered in 2017/18.

One 3-hour period.

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