INTS 311: The Mysteries of Migration: Consequences for Conservation

INTS 311-001: The Mysteries of Migration: Consequences for Conservation Policies
(Fall 2014)

01:30 PM to 04:10 PM TR

Robinson Hall A123

Section Information for Fall 2014

This learning community is designed to provide opportunities for students to discover and understand the intersection of public policy with the complex biological interactions that occur in the natural world.  We do this through the little understood but extremely prevalent phenomenon of migration.   Our learning goals are addressed through a myriad of learning community features ranging from informal science practice to case study development, writing and group work.   This course is suitable for students interested in natural history and progressive teaching practice.

This learning community will investigate the exciting and, in some cases, mysterious phenomenon of migration—from butterflies to polar bears.  In the past, scientists thought birds flew to the moon or buried themselves in the mud until spring.  Although we no longer believe these ideas, mystery still surrounds some aspects of migration.  Every year, monarch butterflies arrive at their ancestral wintering grounds in Mexico even though none have ever been there before.   And hammerhead sharks converge in the Galapagos in large groups for reasons poorly understood.

Our focus will be on the basic biological and physical factors that influence migration—such as energy metabolism, behavioral adaptations, population genetics, terrain, weather patterns, and magnetism—and the implications of migration for the development of conservation and resource management policies both within the United States and with other nations.  For educators, this is an opportunity to learn how to use a natural history phenomenon to raise the interest level of students and make the subject interesting and real.   Our primary goal is two-fold:  (1) to provide students with a solid understanding of basic biological principles by studying their application to one of the most pervasive and interesting phenomena in nature, and (2) to learn about and evaluate the domestic and international policy systems and tools for addressing problems and issues raised by the movement of plants and animals.  A secondary goal is to enhance the students’ awareness of the historical and cultural importance of migration through introducing a variety of readings, including science and policy articles and nature writing.  Examples of questions to be investigated include:  Why do organisms migrate?  How do they know “where to go”? What factors affect the timing of migration?  What problems does migration pose for resource management and conservation efforts, domestically and internationally?  Are the institutions and mechanisms we currently depend on to protect migrating species effective? 


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 6

Investigates the biology of migration and its implications for science policy. Students consider the phenomenon of migration in the context of natural history, conservation, and cultural issues. The course includes several weekend trips for field study. Limited to three attempts.
Specialized Designation: Green Leaf Related Course, Writing Intensive in Major
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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