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Courses and Outreach


526 (cross-listed as BIOL526) Evolutionary Ecology

Description: This course is designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. The format of the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Instructors will give background lectures, and students will lead discussion sessions on a variety of topics covered each week. Lectures and assigned readings are designed to provide a foundation in evolutionary ecology and provide a sampling of specific topics.  This class is only offered in Fall semesters of odd years.

Extracurricular Outreach

Plant Breeding for Drought Tolerance Course

The importance of understanding drought stress is greater than ever.  Moisture deficits are one of the greatest challenges to future crop production. Severe drought in many parts of the world in recent years drastically reduced crop yields and disrupted regional economies. Even in average years, however, many agricultural regions, including the U.S. Great Plains, suffer from chronic moisture deficits. Cereal crops typically attain only about 25% of their potential yield due to the effects of environmental stress, with moisture stress the most important cause. Two major trends will likely increase the frequency and severity of crop moisture deficits:

(1) Global climate change. Higher temperatures will increase crop water use due to increased transpiration. A warmer atmosphere will also speed up melting of mountain snowpack, resulting in less water available for irrigation. More extreme weather patterns are expected to increase the frequency and severity of drought in some regions.

(2) Competing uses for limited water supplies. Increased demand from municipal and industrial users, together with water needed to maintain environmental quality, will further reduce the amount of water available for irrigated crops.

Although changes in tillage and irrigation practices can improve production by conserving water, enhancing the genetic tolerance of crops to drought stress is considered an essential strategy for addressing moisture deficits.  This class will introduce you to plant breeding methods used to increase drought tolerance.

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