FISH 312: Fisheries Ecology


Next offering: Spring 2020

Curious? Check out the adventures of the 2019 Fisheries Ecology students here:

Ecologists study the abundance and distribution of species. In FISH 312, we will learn the basic principles of ecology, with a focus on the ecological processes that produce observable patterns in diversity and abundance. We will proceed from lower levels of biological organization to higher levels: from physiology and behavior to populations, communities, and ecosystems. Although the objective of the course is to teach students fundamental ecological principles that apply across all ecosystems, we will focus on the themes most relevant to marine and aquatic ecosystems, especially fisheries. Field trips and labs will illustrate principles learned in lecture using local ecosystems; we will examine a variety of local aquatic habitats and explore the physical factors (e.g., temperature, substrate, salinity), biotic factors (e.g., predation, competition, parasitism), and human-related factors (e.g., dams, pollution, water diversion, fishing, logging) that affect the diversity and abundance of species. In this way, we will explore how themes of basic and applied ecology play out in local aquatic habitats. The lab portion of FISH 312 focuses on local habitats because: (1) we have access to and expertise about these ecosystems, (2) students often have personal experience with these habitats, (3) learning about local habitats opens up professional opportunities in government, non-profit, and academic sectors.

By the end of the semester, I expect you will be able to:

  1. describe the major ecosystem types that occur in terrestrial, marine, and freshwater environments and explain how organisms are physiologically and behaviorally adapted to these environments;
  2. describe the biotic and abiotic factors that place limits on a species’ distribution and abundance;
  3. describe the structure of populations using techniques from population biology, and identify the major factors that constrain population growth;
  4. outline the various categories of species interactions and explain how these interactions influence species’ distribution and abundance;
  5. explain the differences in biodiversity among world regions;
  6. trace the flow of energy through an ecosystem and describe some of the major biogeochemical cycles of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems;
  7. knowledgably discuss applied issues in ecology, including harvesting, pest control, dams, and conservation efforts;
  8. analyze and critically evaluate graphical representations of data from the scientific literature;
  9. interpret, evaluate, and synthesize primary literature (accomplished via writing assignments and group presentation);
  10. communicate ideas about ecology, in writing and speech.

Student feedback from official evaluations:

“Chelsea is such a fantastic lecturer because she can teach you the course material through interesting perspectives that hold your attention for the entire duration of the class. Her use of stories and case studies is extremely helpful by making students think critically about what is in front of them.”

“This class showed you multiple aspects of tackling questions in fisheries ecology; how field work is conducted, how surveys and studies are designed, how lab work is conducted, and how all of this information is tied together, analyzed and presented as completed research.”

“Easily the best instructor I’ve had at UW.”

“I cannot praise Chelsea enough. Her very presence drives me to push myself academically, to ask more questions, to really devote myself to the material. She drives her students to seek success instead of avoid failure because she creates an atmosphere that is nurturing and treats gaps in a student’s knowledge as nobody’s failure, but as opportunities for growth and learning. I want to succeed in Chelsea’s classes because she makes me want to be a good scientist, not out of fear of bad grades or anything like that. Chelsea is the inspiring, kind, knowledgeable, approachable, and respectable scientist that I can only hope to be like someday.”

“Chelsea’s enthusiasm and passion for her work is absolutely unmatched. You could not be bored listening to her even if you tried. The way she talks just demands the attention of the room.”

“Highly recommend this class, I wasn’t originally planning on taking it but I am so glad I did.”

Field trips:

early April: electrofishing at Rock Creek in the Cedar River watershed

late April: mid-water trawls at Sand Point in Lake Washington, aboard UW Oceanography’s R/V Rachel Carson

early May: bottom trawls at Port Madison  in Puget Sound, aboard UW Oceanography’s R/V Rachel Carson

Back to Teaching