Mont St Hilaire
Sunday August 20 – Thursday August 31, 2017
Enrolment is capped so register early!
See Regsitration and Fees page for full details
This is a fall term field course that makes use of the old-growth and successional forest, lake and stream habitats at the Gault Nature Reserve in Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec (http://www.mcgill.ca/gault/). Staff and students live at the field station for two weeks at the end of August. The dates for 2017 are above. Two to four professors and a TA are involved in teaching the course. In general the professors represent a mix of experience and interests in ecology and animal behaviour, and in terrestrial and aquatic systems.
The primary aim of the course is to provide training in basic methods for the quantitative study of ecological systems and the testing of hypotheses in nature. The course consists of a series of modules in which small groups of students and individual professors together explore a scientific problem in the field.
In the process, students are exposed to the concept of hypothesis testing, experimental design, and basic methods of sampling in the areas of ecology and animal behaviour. During the last 2 days of the course, students work individually or in small teams to do a short research project on a problem of interest to them. Help with the development of projects, and their execution, will be given by the professors and demonstrators. The project is written up independently by each individual student during the first 3 weeks of the fall term. Turning in the project report completes the obligations of this course early in the term, thus leaving more time for other course work later in the semester. The course mark is based on participation during the two field weeks and on the project report. Normally the course mark is only entered at the end of the fall semester; this is NOT a summer term course.
The course is open to all students who have taken Biology of Organisms (BIOL 206 or equivalent), Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 215) and Ecological Dynamics (BIOL 308) or their equivalents. Students who have taken ENVR 200 and ENVR 202 in the McGill School of Environment can substitute these courses for BIOL 215, but will still need to have taken BIOL 206 or some other course that teaches basic statistics. If you have taken BIOL 373 or some other introductory statistics course, it is not necessary to have taken BIOL 206. In general this course works best for students starting their U3 year who have had some advanced training in ecology and/or animal behaviour such as BIOL 308 (Ecological Dynamics), BIOL 307 (Behavioural Ecology) and/or BIOL 306 (Neurobiology & Behaviour). It also is useful to have some experience or courses in plant and animal identification, soils, hydrology and the like but these are not requirements. Taking BIOL 331 at the start of your U2 year is possible, but often proves less satisfying than if you wait until you have had more background in advanced courses.
This year, the instructors are Dr. Simon Reader (Course Coordinator), Dr. Rowan Barrett, and Dr. Anna Hargreaves. Please contact Dr. Reader if you have any questions about the course.
Student Comments about the course
Learned how to take rigorous measurements and how to use them for strong analysis
excellent in the group discussions, questioning people, and getting them to elaborate on ideas. I found that it worked really well because students were given the chance to come up with their own experiments which really helped the process of working through ideas and coming up with experimental procedures.
[The professor] had a wonderful way of teaching, very relaxed but also very clear and interesting. He really seemed open and interested in finding new things
[The professor was] very attentive to students. Picked up on our interests and worked to help us focus in on them and to develop our ideas.
Walking in the woods, I really enjoyed [the professors] stops to explain some ecological detail or another. Her good sense of humor and strong intelligence was enjoyed and admired by all the students that Ive spoken with!