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Ecological Systems is a course of study in the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences graduate program, a highly interdisciplinary, multi-campus graduate program in marine and environmental science. The program’s strength is drawn from the diverse expertise of its faculty affiliated with several USM institutions, as well as from government and non-government agencies, and affords students an unparalleled opportunity to combine the expertise of the best environmental scientists in the region to guide their program of study. The Ecological Systems Foundation encompasses a broad array of topics and scales of research, all with the fundamental perspective that understanding the interactions between organisms and their environment leads to valuable scientific discovery and application. From genes to ecosystems and from the mountains to the seafloor, previous student research in this area has included development of techniques in landscape ecology, ecological genomics and fisheries stock assessment. Tools developed over the course of a graduate student career may include sophisticated field and laboratory studies as well as analytical and simulation modeling. Faculty supporting this foundation are actively conducting research around the globe from the Arctic and Australia to continental areas such as the American Midwestern prairie and the iconic Chesapeake Bay. Our faculty draw from the traditions of individual, population, community, and ecosystem approaches, providing students with depth in their individualized training even as the curriculum promotes access to a variety of ecological perspectives. We are committed to training the future leading scientists and professionals in all aspects of ecology. Students interested in pursuing ecological research or engaging in cross-disciplinary research that bridges to each of the other three Foundational Areas are strongly encouraged to explore graduate work with us.
Review other areas of study available through the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences graduate program.
Earth & Ocean Sciences
Students will gain a basic understanding of the physical and biogeochemical dynamics of earth-estuarine-ocean system, and a process-based knowledge of the system from theoretical, experimental, and empirical vantage points. Students will demonstrate both quantitative and qualitative understanding of fundamental physical and biogeochemical processes and their interactions, and apply information from multiple scientific disciplines (e.g., hydrology, biogeochemistry, physical oceanography) to formulate testable hypotheses through integration of theory and observational data.
Environmental Molecular Science & Technology
Students will gain literacy and understanding of molecular biological processes, methods and approaches related to environmental systems including DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, genomics and comparative and environmental genomics. Students will learn how molecular techniques have revolutionized ecology, conservation, and taxonomy, allowed the understanding of microbial communities and provided the opportunity to investigate the characteristics of plant and animal populations in non-invasive ways.
Environment & Society
In this foundation, students will obtain foundational knowledge of core theories and methods in the following domains of integrated social and environmental sciences: Coupled natural and human systems, cultural models of the environment, political ecology, participation and governance, ecological economics, and environmental ethics. Students will develop scholarship and practice in social science aspects of coupled natural human systems that includes critical thinking, written and verbal communication, and practice in interdisciplinary fieldwork to hone skills in data collection and analysis, consensus building, and stakeholder analysis.