Instructor: Dr. David Wallin; Office: ES342; Phone: 650-7526; e-mail:
Text: Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology by FS Chapin III, PA Matson and HA Mooney, 2nd Edition. Note: I have asked the library to order the eBook version of this text. When this comes in you can “check out” the ebook for the entire quarter, have it on your computer and access it even when you are offline. There is not limit on the number of students who can have the ebook checked out at the same time. You can take notes and add highlighting to this ebook. So, if you are OK doing your reading on a computer, this would mean that you could get the book at zero cost.
Additional readings as assigned: on reserve in a folder in the Huxley College Library.
(Click here for list of readings on reserve)
(Click here to view the online bibliography)

Class Meeting: MWF 10:00, ES413
Lab Meeting Room: W or Th, AH05

NOTE: The lab WILL NOT meet during the first week of classes (March 27-28)


You will need to complete the first lab (a computer lab) on your own during the first week of class Click here for information about the first lab) .

Office Hours: MTWF 11:00 - 12:00 (sign-up on office door) and by appointment.
Teaching Assistants:

Monday Lab: Jacqui Bergner; Office Hours TBD  Office Location: ES430; email: 

Tuesday Lab: Jenna Schroeder; Office hours R 12-1 email to confirm you are coming; Location ES301;  email

Prerequisites: The course requires a background in ecology. All students must have completed BOTH ESCI 325 and 340 or Biol 325 and 340 or equivalent courses at another institution. If you have not had these prerequisites, you should NOT take this class.

Student Learning Objectives: Upon completion of the course, students will have an understanding of the structure, function and temporal dynamics of forest ecosystems. They will also gain experience with basic forest inventory techniques and statistical methods for the analysis of these data.

Academic Policies: Western’s policies regarding academic honesty; disability and religious accommodations; ethical conduct with technology; equal opportunity; finals; medical excuse; and student conduct that are applicable to all students can be found here:



Note Regarding Writing Proficiency Requirements: This course meets the requirements of a WP2 class; that is, completion of this course counts for two of the three WP points required for graduation.



Graduate Students

Mid-term Exam



Final Exam



Lab Reports: Click here for information about the lab



Class Participation



Term Paper/Project Click here for information about this project




Late Assignments: grades reduced by 5%/day if turned in late without a valid excuse (illness, family crisis, etc.).  Assignments that are more than one week late will not be accepted without a valid excuse (illness, family crisis, etc.). NOTE: Due Dates exist for a reason. I don’t want you to fall behind. If you have a reasonable excuse for turning something in late (illness, family crisis, etc.), it is your responsibility to make me aware of this right away. Don’t come to me in week 9 and expect to be able to turn in a bunch of late assignment.

Reasonable Accommodation: Reasonable accommodation for persons with documented disabilities should be established within the first week of class and arranged through Disability Resources for Students: Telephone 650-3083; email and on the web at


Grading: A =93; A- 90-92; B+ 88-89; B 83-87; B- 80-82; C+ 78-79; C 73-77; C- 70-72; D+ 68-69; D 63-67 D- 60-62; F 0-59

The class will include three hours of lecture and four hours of lab per week. Some lecture and lab time may be used for discussion of assigned readings from the scientific literature.


Academic Dishonesty: There has been a substantial increase in the number of cases of Academic Dishonesty in recent years.  For this reason, all faculty members have been instructed by the Registrar’s Office to provide students with explicit information about Academic Dishonesty.  Briefly stated, lying, cheating and stealing will not be tolerated in any form.  Actions of this type will result in severe consequences that could include a failing grade in the class and dismissal from the university.  Hopefully, this does not come as a surprise to anyone.  All students should review Appendix D, Academic Dishonesty Policy and Procedure Appendix D, Academic Dishonesty Policy and Procedure in the back of the University Catalog  for a more detailed discussion of what constitutes academic dishonesty.  For more information see the WWU Plagiarism Information Web Site.



Information about the Oregon State University salvage logging controversy from the spring of 2006:

The paper that started the controversy:

Donato, D.C., J.B. Fontaine, J.L. Campbell, W.D. Robinson, J.B. Kauffman and B.E. Law.  2006.  Post-wildfire logging hinders regeneration and increases fire risk.  Science 311:352  (20 January 2006)  donato_etal_2006.pdf   donato_etal_2006_sup.pdf (contains materials and methods and other supplemental material.)


Last updated: 3/8/23 (Check for updates of this schedule as the quarter progresses.)     

TENTATIVE Lecture Schedule



Week 1: 3/29-31

3/29: Organizational Meeting
Preface: Humans and the Forest


Week 2: 4/3-7

Preface: Humans and the Forest (continued)
Part I: Context
The Ecosystem Concept

Chapter 1, Vitousek et al. 1997, Noble et al. 1997

Optional Reading: New_Republic_ID.pdf

Week 3: 4/10-14

The Earth’s Climate System

Chapters 2

Optional Reading: tubtoys_ocean_circ.pdf

Week 4: 4/17-21

Geology and Soils

Chapter 3

Week 5: 4/24-28

Part II: Mechanisms
Terrestrial Water and Energy Balance

Carbon Input to Terrestrial Ecosystems

Plant Carbon Budgets

MID-TERM EXAM;Friday, April 28….(but may be delayed until Monday May 1 depending on our progress)

Chapters 4, 5, 6

Week 6: 5/1-5

Decomposition and Ecosystem Carbon Budgets
Plant Nutrient Use

Chapters  7, 8

Week 7: 5/8-12

Terrestrial Nutrient Cycling
Trophic Dynamics

Chapters 9, 10

Week 8: 5/15 – 19

Species Effects on Ecosystem Processes

Temporal Dynamics

 Chapters 11,12 

Optional readings RE plant defensive compounds:

Harborne; Chap 3 IN: Plant defense against mammalian herbivory

Week 9: 5/22 – 26

Part III: Patterns
Landscape Heterogeneity and Ecosystem Dynamics Changes in the Earth System

Chapters 13, 14  

Week 10: 5/29-6/2

Part IV: Integration
Managing and Sustaining Ecosystems

 Chapters 15


Finals Week: 6/5-9

Final Exam:



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