Environmental Biology & Ecology

When you select the Environmental Biology & Ecology emphasis at Western, you’ll study in the great classroom of the Gunnison Basin - and beyond. You’ll explore public and private lands, from sagebrush and lush riparian lowlands to deep forests and rocky alpine crags. Surrounded by six wilderness areas, the basin is truly a vast and wild classroom.

You’ll learn from passionate ecologists dedicated to hands-on, practical approaches. With connections to numerous natural resources agencies, the program provides frequent opportunities for resource professionals to interact with our students in classes, on field trips, and in training, through internships and paid, local jobs.

Western serves up a rich diversity of coursework for our small size. In addition, our Thornton Biology Undergraduate Research Program helps the most engaged students deepen their experience and gain skills, working closely with faculty mentors, while earning research stipends.

What Will You Learn? What Skills Will You Acquire?

The Ecology Emphasis helps you build knowledge and skills, starting in your freshman introductory courses. From that foundation, you add more sophisticated and applied skills as you move through the program.

You’ll learn in a field-based ecology lab that focuses on scientific methods, from experimental design to communication and numerous field techniques. You will gain the technical background and skills needed to communicate with scientists and resource managers.

You’ll learn field techniques, such as vegetation monitoring, stream assessment, radio telemetry, GIS, mapping and compass work, animal and plant identification by sight and sound, and even more diverse approaches to measuring populations, communities and ecosystems.

Beyond the Classroom

Research, service learning, adventure education, applied experiential field trips, connections with professional biologists, and fun social events help comprise the rich culture of our co-curricular program.

Western's Biology students participate in two primary clubs: the Tri Beta Biology Club and the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society. They hold biweekly meetings throughout the year and organize field trips, fundraising events, and social/educational events.

Students work with the local community through a variety of service projects. They also build connections with local offices of natural resource agencies, which offer opportunities for service and field experience, such as trapping bighorn sheep, assisting with the annual kokanee salmon spawn, electroshocking and sampling fish, and volunteering at the Gunnison Sage Grouse Watchable Wildlife site.

Our budding biologists also work with agency professionals in workshops on applying for federal jobs and writing resumes, obtaining a hunter safety cards, learning to fly fish, learning basic avian taxidermy and more.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Environmental Biology & Ecology Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family.

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  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at http://www.western.edu/catalog. To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.

 BIOL 150 - BIOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES GSC1 (4 credits)

An introduction to the central unifying concepts of biology including the biochemical foundations of life, cell structure and function, cell metabolism, genetics, and evolution. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. Prerequisites: A year of high school biology; and a year of high school chemistry or CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 151 - DIVERSITY PATTERNS OF LIFE (4 credits)

An overview of organismal diversity and ecology. Through a taxonomic survey, students are introduced to prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity including microorganisms, plants, and animals. Organismic anatomy and physiology, as well as fundamentals of ecology, are also considered. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. Prerequisites: A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry or CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 151 - DIVERSITY PATTERNS OF LIFE LAB (0 credits)

An overview of organismal diversity and ecology. Through a taxonomic survey, students are introduced to prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity including microorganisms, plants, and animals. Organismic anatomy and physiology, as well as fundamentals of ecology, are also considered. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. Prerequisites: A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry or CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 301 - GENERAL ECOLOGY (3 credits)

An introduction to basic ecological principles and their relationships to natural systems. Human impact on the natural systems is assessed. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: COM 202.

 BIOL 310 - CELL BIOLOGY (3 credits)

An introduction to cellular function and structure. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 231 or CHEM 331; and COTH 202.

 BIOL 312 - GENETICS W RECITATION (4 credits)

A course in Mendelian inheritance, linkage, chromosomal aberrations, molecular genetics, gene regulation, genetic engineering, and population genetics. Prerequisites: BIOL 301, BIOL 310, CHEM 231, and CHEM 234; or CHEM 331.

 BIOL 362 - EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY-THEORY APPLICATION (3 credits)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of evolutionary processes and mechanisms within an applied framework. Evolutionary perspectives in human health and medicine,environmental and conservation biology, agriculture and natural resource management, and biotechnology are covered. Topics include organismic adaptation to changing environments and long-term responses to environmental perturbation, and insights into many issues of growing social importance such as climate change, land use change, and emerging diseases. Prerequisites: BIOL 312; or ENVS 350, ENVS 370, ENVS 390, and either BIOL 151 or both BIOL 130 and BIOL 135; or instructor permission.

 BIOL 495 - SR SEM: HUMAN EVOLUTION (1 credits)

An examination of biological subdisciplines through an investigation of the primary literature. The professional practices, procedures, and standards of the subdiscipline are discussed. This course may be repeated for credit and must be taken twice to fulfill the Capstone Course requirement. Graded Satisfactory/ Unsatisfactory only. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus and MATH 213.

 BIOL 496 - SENIOR THESIS (2-4 credits)

An advanced research experience resulting in a Senior Thesis, supervised by a thesis committee of three faculty members including at least one biologist. A proposal of the project must be approved by the thesis committee prior to project initiation. In addition to completing the written thesis, students must present the results of their work in a departmental seminar. This course satisfies the capstone course requirement. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus, and MATH 213. 

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Professor of Biology; Chair, Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences
B.A., University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., University of North Texas
Phone: (970) 943-3405
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143C
Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Vermont; M.A., Ph.D., University of Colorado.
Phone: (970) 943-3355
Office Location: Hurst Hall 222
Assistant Professor in Biology and Environment & Sustainability
B.A., Biology, University of California–Santa Cruz, 1995, Ph.D., Botany, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2005
Phone: (970) 943-2565
Office Location: Kelly Hall 105
Professor of Biology
B.S., St. Joseph’s University; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University.
Phone: (970) 943-2094
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238B
Associate Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Colorado; B.A., University of Colorado; Ph.D., University of Oregon
Phone: (970) 943-2552
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238C
Biology Laboratory Coordinator
B.A., Western State Colorado Universtiy; M.S., San Francisco State University.
Phone: (970) 943-2437
Office Location: Hurst Hall 128A
Thornton Chair in Biology
B.S, Colorado State University. M.S., University of Missouri; Ph.D., University of Missouri.
Phone: (970) 943-7121
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
Associate Professor of Biology
B.S., Allegheny College; Ph.D., Dartmouth College.
Phone: (970) 943-3181
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238A
Lecturer in Biology
B.A., University of Boulder , M.A., University of Denver and Health Sciences, Ph.D., University of Denver and Health Sciences
Phone: (970) 943-2145
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143B
Emeritus Professor of Biology
B.S., University of California-Davis; Ph.D., University of Idaho.
Phone: 970.943.2063
Office Location: