Read Dr. Keck’s article “Erosion of heterogenous rock drives diversification of Appalachian fishes” here:
Want to take a field course immersed in the natural beauty and ecological complexity of one the world’s biodiversity hotspots?
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, a Biodiversity Hotspot, and a naturalist’s paradise. The Smokies also are at our own backdoor. Since 2016, EEB has offered a field course, EEB 480: Natural History of the Great Smoky Mountains, that allows students to explore the plant and animal communities, geology, geography, and human history of our nation’s most visited national park. Over a two-week period in the summer mini-term, students immerse themselves in the natural history of our Southern Appalachians.
The first week is taught on campus, where students dig into the outstanding biodiversity collections maintained by EEB and the McClung Museum, learn about plant and animal communities in the Smokies, and identify species in these communities. Students also learn about the human history and ecological threats to the Smokies, including invasive species, changing environmental conditions, and human impacts.
The second week is devoted to field-based exploration of the Great Smoky Mountains. Students and faculty stay at the EEB Field Station, just outside of the Greenbrier entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They live and work in a community environment, staying in an open-air camping area with modern kitchen and bathroom facilities. They get up early, stay up late, get wet and dirty, and eat well. Fieldwork involves a lot of hiking. Each day they explore a different part of the park, investigating plant and animal communities and identifying species in the wild. The course winds up with students each making presentations on a research topic that they choose while immersed in the natural wonders of the Park.
We are pleased to offer three mini-term courses this year. We are confident that you will love each of these courses. Email email@example.com to override pre-req
Natural History of the Smokies – 70213 – CRN 461-001
“Natural History of the Great Smoky Mountains”. This course is a field ecology course that includes a one-week field trip. Course Fee of $350 to cover housing, transportation & food. Questions? Contact Gary McCracken or Randy Small **This course can be petitioned to count for a “Field or Lab Emphasis Course” for the EEB concentration**
Avian Diversification – 70235 – EEB 461 – 002
Avian Diversity will provide a general overview of avian systematics, evolution, ecology, and behavior. Other special topics will include physiology, migration and orientation, mating systems and parental behavior, communication, and conservation biology. Students will be expected to actively participate in class discussions. duration: 3 week course from May 9 – 30 times: 3 days/week in class: Dabney-Buehler Hall 575, 1-4pm, 2 days/week outdoors: mornings to early afternoon.
Theory in Ethnobiology – 70260 – EEB 461 – 004
What are the theories and hypotheses commonly tested in ethnobiology? What types of data are collected to test these hypotheses? How are these data analyzed to understand the link between plant and culture, the way in which human, by selecting certain organs on certain plant species in specific location, and at some specific time, have shaped their environment? How environmental feedback constrained the nature and extent of human-plant interactions? The ultimate goal of this class is to guide students in conducting hypothesis/theory-driven research in ethnobiology. We will review various theories and hypotheses in ethnobiology. Second, we will learn the different methods used in ethnobotanical research and finally we will identify the major types of data commonly collected in this field and how these data are analyzed. At the end of this course students will be able to develop and test simple hypotheses in ethnobiology and discuss how they fit into the broad ethnobiology literature. Although this course method is applied to ethnobiology, the course can be of interest to students interested in learning about how to use the scientific method in biology in general.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel has an article on the research that Karen Hughes, Brandon Matheny and Ron Petersen are doing on the post-fire growth of fungi in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Check it out at
Jen Schweitzer was awarded over $145,000 in Technology Fee Funds from the University in May. These funds are being used to purchase a suite of computer and environmental monitoring technologies. These resources will
- Contribute to infrastructure and resources at the EEB Field Station,
- Be used in at least five upper division ecology courses which have significant field components (EEB 330, 405, 415, 421, 433),
- Be used in undergraduate teaching and research, including permanent field plots along Robert Whittaker’s historic elevational gradient in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1952, 1956).
Technology is growing rapidly for field studies and giving our students access to these instruments, techniques, and skills will greatly advance and enhance their learning and future career opportunities.
Funds have been released for the construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) as of Aug. 2011. From the release: “NEON plans to build 62 sites across the U.S., utilizing cutting-edge technology that will gather and synthesize continental-scale data over 30 years on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. Such information will support the ability to understand and predict environmental change on regional and continental scales.”
There are two NEON sites near UTK: a core site at Walker Branch site at Oak Ridge, and a relocatable site in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several other sites within a day’s drive of campus.