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Prairie Ecosystems: Lessons of Sustainability Past, Present, and Future

Instructor: Justin Borevitz
TA: Geoff Morris
Code: BIOS 13113
Lecture Days and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00am-10:30am
Room: BSLC 008
Lab Days and Time: Odd Sat excursions, Even Sat self guided local trips
How did the prairie ecosystem re-establish since the last glacial retreat? Grasslands are selected by buffalo’s migration patterns and people's use of fire. We will address the major ecosystems components, plant plant, plant animal, plant insect interactions, the rhizosphere, niche colonization, succession – water, carbon, nitrogen cycling.
How did this change with early colonial settling of the west? Deforestation followed by industrial agriculture of the last 50 years has moved fertility from the soil while being the world’s most productive breadbasket. Chemical subsidies have replaced biodiversity including the dead zone in the gulf of Mexico. But this ecosystem is NOT beyond repair.
How can we continue with local, urban and sustainable agriculture? How can we generate clean/sustainable energy? How can we design cities to biomimic an ecosystem? Resources for this course include several assigned and suggested books (below). 
Assignments include group and/or individual web photo/video gallery exhibits of local remnant prairies, restored and succeeded. Students will develop and plan to implement a local conservation plan. A final assignment is a future vision on the individual, family/household, and community scale.

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