Winter Ecology course focused on migration, hibernation

Students doing research during the winter ecology course.Over the winter intersession, students enrolled in the Winter Ecology course with Dr. Janice Greene took several field trips, including to Springfield Lake, Sequiota Park, the Watershed Center and several urban lakes.

“Students learned about bird identification in the lab and in the field, data collection and analysis and other science process skills,” said Greene. “This class also helps students to see how organisms must adapt to changes in their environments.”

The students did several things during the course:

  • looked at how plants and animals specifically adapt to life in winter here in Missouri and in the far north
  • discussed the three major strategies of migration, hibernation and resistance
  • researched specific organisms that live in Missouri and how they adapt to winter
  • discussed how snow can help some organisms and hurt others
  • discussed how snow insulates whether new or old snow better and why
  • identified winter trees
  • discussed how insects can overwinter in different life stages (egg, larva, pupa or adult) and how do they do it

“We looked for winter birds, both aquatic birds and ‘feeder birds.’ Bird feeders are an easy way to learn local birds that resist the winter and stay here and those that migrate to Missouri to avoid harsh winters,” said Greene. “We took air and soil temperature, wind, and light readings on north and south slopes to compare microclimates and discuss why organisms might prefer certain areas to others.”

Greene noted that the weather was warmer this year, which made it easier on students. It was a busy but fun course.Students doing research during the winter ecology course.

Many other courses in the biology department will allow students to get hands-on experience out in the field during this spring semester:

  • BIO 369, General Ecology, Dr. Brian Greene
  • BIO 533/633, Wetland Ecology, Dr. La Toya Kissoon-Charles
  • BIO 573/673, Ornithology, Dr. Janice Greene
  • BIO 576/676, Herpetology, Dr. Brian Greene
  • BIO 509/609, Stream Ecology, Dr. Deb Finn

Learn more about biology course offerings.

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