This limited enrollment course will focus on the structure, function and history of managed and unmanaged urban natural areas. In recent years there has been an increased recognition of the important ecological services that natural areas can provide in terms of the improvement of water and soil quality, the reduction of ambient air temperature, the promotion of biological diversity and in making cities more livable and attractive for their human inhabitants. The course will investigate various management strategies for urban natural areas to increase their ecological, aesthetic and recreational potential as well as to help mitigate the challenges posed by the looming increases in temperature and sea level.
Students admitted to this course will be expected to produce a weekly response to the assigned readings along with a final project that examines the ecological conditions of a specific natural area in the Boston metropolitan area and its potential contributions to the city's sustainability in the future. The course will consist of lectures on various aspects of urban ecology, student-led discussions of selected readings and presentations of field research projects. Grades will be based on weekly, written reactions to the readings and the final research project.