The Life System component of the Earth's Environmental Systems series provides an integrated view of the biological component of the Earth system. It emphasizes the history of life, biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, evolution, ecology, and physiology at the microbe to global scale. It also stresses the biotic systems, in contrast to the physical systems, as maintaining the non-equilibrium state of the Earth's surface.

Lectures are held on Mondays and Wednesdays. The Wednesday labs (substituted by occasional field trips) focus on the Earth system elements, and are intended to be a very substantial part of the course in which students gain experience with working with parts of the Biosphere. Students will work with mathematical models and on-line data streams (this is true of all three of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences core courses), complimenting the more traditional descriptive aspects of working with living and fossil biological systems. This is also where students will gain experience with different methods of approaching biological systems such as physiological analysis and systematics and ecological methods.

The course is divided into three parts, corresponding to the three instructors. These three parts are arranged to make the most heuristic sense of the most complex and diffuse of the Earth Systems.

Part Instructor Theme Description
1 Paul E. Olsen Entities, Cycles, and History The Nature of Individuals, Species, and History of Life
2 Matthew I. Palmer Mechanisms of Evolution and Ecology The Origin of Species and Diversity by Natural Selection, and Interactions that Shape the Abundance, Distribution, and Conservation of Organisms
3 Kevin L. Griffin Physiology at Different Scales The Evolution of the Long-Term Carbon Cycle; The Flow of Materials and Energy Within and Between Organisms and their Environments, from Microbes to the Biosphere

Textbook: The textbook for the course is: Raven, P. H., Johnson, G. B., Losos, J.B. & Singer 2005, Biology (7th ed.), McGraw-Hill, Boston, +1250 p. available at Labyrinth Books.

Teaching Assistants

Andres Giallombardo (DEES) (ag2275@columbia.edu); Office hours TBA.

Dan Flynn (E3B) (dff2101@columbia.edu); Office hours TBA.

Office hours held in 551 Schermerhorn.

Related Sites

The Earth System (V2100, V2200, V2300)

Environmental Biology I (W2001)

Dinosaurs and The History of Life (V1001y)

Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary in Raton Basin.

Updated February 13, 2007
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