Professors Behm and Helmus teach a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Not all courses are taught each year. If you are interested in when a particular course might be taught, email the professor or search the Temple Course Schedule.
This large, required lecture course provides an overview of ecology from the level of the individual organism to populations, communities, and ecosystems. The course examines the physical, chemical, and biological components of ecological interactions, and includes a comparative treatment of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The course focuses on how humans alter ecology from local scales, such as through the introduction of invasive species, to global scales, such as through climate change and sustainable choices. Grades are based on reading assignments and exams.
Undergraduate, Graduate, 3 credits
Biological Impacts of Climate Change – BIOL 4327/5466 – Dr. Behm
This hands-on course focuses on the climate crisis. The species around us are already responding to the changing climate and regardless of whether humans choose to acknowledge climate change or not, humans are already being affected in multiple ways. In this course, we will explore the many impacts of climate change on biological systems. Through explorations of the effects of climate change on ecosystems, we will explore how these impacts, directly and indirectly, affect humans. The course is split into 7 modules each with a unique theme. The first meeting for each module will be structured as a discussion where we discuss a research paper related to the module’s theme and learn a data collection technique and a statistical technique. The second week within each module will be structured as a lab where we apply what we learned to collect and analyze data. For the readings, we will rely heavily on peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. To jump-start discussions, there will be a quiz about the reading students will submit before class. For the research projects, we will learn a particular research method that scientists use to study the biological impacts of climate change and a data handling method that scientists use to analyze and/or present their data. Students will design, execute, and present (in written or oral form) a research project using these methods for each module. It will be fun! These research projects will comprise the majority of students’ grades for the course.
Undergraduate, Graduate, 3 Credits
Global Change Science Analytics with R – BIOL 3380/5466 – Dr. Helmus
This course provides an overview of how researchers use data to solve global problems such as mass extinction, pandemics, and poverty. Students explore interdisciplinary data, from economics to public health, and learn a marketable skill: communicating data with R, an intuitive statistical computer language. The course is project-based, no prior coding experience is necessary, and no final exam tests are given. Instead, course assessment is on project progress and graphical communication of a global change problem of their choice. The most successful students leave class with the quantitative skills to go out and solve our most pressing problems. Check out some of the final projects.
Undergraduate, Graduate, 3 Credits
Foundations of Ecology – BIOL 8250 – Dr. Helmus
The purpose of this discussion-based graduate seminar is to provide an overview of the theoretical foundations of ecology. Graduate students read classic ecology papers and discuss paper contributions to ecology and relevance to student dissertation research. Students learn how to answer the question “What theory does this paper present or support?” Once students articulate the theory, students will be able to incorporate it into their own research papers and theses.
Graduate, 1 Credit
Ecological Statistics – BIOL 8250 – Dr. Behm
This hands-on graduate statistics seminar focuses on how to use statistics to extract and summarize trends and patterns in ecological data. While it is impossible to become proficient in all statistical techniques within the span of a single semester, we will learn the foundational skills that will allow you to identify and implement the statistical methods you would like to use for your graduate work and into your career. In this class, we will have hands-on use of statistical analyses and graphics with R. Students will be responsible for learning and presenting different statistical techniques in R. The goal will be to develop a reference “cheat sheet” of steps and considerations that students can apply beyond this seminar when analyzing a new data set.
Graduate, 3 Credits
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning – BIOL 8250 – Dr. Behm
During this graduate seminar, we will explore how human impacts (and natural processes) alter biodiversity and subsequent ecosystem functioning through the lens of response and effect traits. Human activities (and natural processes) impact ecosystems and shift biodiversity by filtering for species based on their response traits. In turn, the effect traits of these remaining species dictate the nature and strength of ecosystem functioning. When response and effect traits are tightly correlated, ecosystem functioning can decline precipitously, yet the ubiquity of tightly correlated response and effect traits across species, ecosystems, and types of disturbance are not well known. Together we will synthesize from the literature correlations between response and effect traits and the mechanisms by which human impacts alter biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In addition, we will explore the art of composing ‘data-less’ papers. Ecological theory is often conveyed through ‘data-less’ review, perspective, and/or synthesis papers, and learning to write this type of paper is an important skill. Throughout the course of the semester, we will be reading many ‘data-less’ papers and we will examine the process of how they are structured and published.
Graduate, 3 Credits