Jake Alexander: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

Name Dr. Jake Alexander
FieldPlant Ecology
Institut für Integrative Biologie
ETH Zürich, CHN H 66
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich
Telephone+41 44 632 86 93
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science

551-0106-00LFundamentals of Biology IB Information 5 credits5GA. Wutz, J. Alexander, O. Y. Martin, E. B. Truernit, S. Wielgoss, S. C. Zeeman
AbstractThis course is an introduction into the basic principles of evolution, diversity, animal/plant form and function, and ecology.
ObjectiveIntroduction into aspects of modern biology and fundamental biological concepts.
ContentThe course is divided into distinct chapters
1. Mechanisms of evolution.
2. The evolutionary history of biological diversity (bacteria and archea, protists, plants and animals).
3. Plant form and function (growth and development, nutrient and resource acquisition, reproduction and environmental responses).
4. Animal form and function (nutrition, immune system, hormones, reproduction, nervous system and behaviour).
5. Ecology (population ecology, community ecology, ecosystems and conservation ecology).
Lecture notesNo script
LiteratureThis course is based on the textbook 'Biology' (Campbell, Reece, 9th edition). The structure of the course follows that of the book. It is recommended to purchase the English version.
Prerequisites / NoticePart of the contents of the book need to be learned through independent study.
701-0034-12LIntegrated Practical: Plant Ecology: From Theory to Practice Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
1.5 credits3PJ. Alexander
AbstractIn this practical class, students investigate how the plant species composition of grasslands depends on management and soil conditions. They learn how to survey the composition of plant communities and how to plan, realise and analyse field experiments. They will understand how the traits of grassland species determine their response to management, and how this knowledge is applied in practice.
ObjectiveStudents will be able to:
- Identify grassland plant species.
- Recognize grassland types from their structure and species composition, and explain how they depend on soil conditions, microclimate and management.
- Describe and explain changes in grassland composition after establishment and implications for grassland use.
- Survey plant species composition and vegetation structure with established methods.
- Carry out a field survey or a field experiment with a correct design; analyse the resulting data.
ContentWir führen Untersuchungen an der ETH Hönggerberg und in der Umgebung durch, um die Funktionsweise und Nutzung von Wiesen (Grünland) zu verstehen.
Wir vergleichen verschieden genutze Gründlandtypen miteinander: wie können wir sie schnell erkennen und ökologisch einordnen?
Für das Praktikum nutzen wir Versuchsflächen die eine unterschiedliche Bodenzusammensetzung aufweisen. Wir führen dort Vegetationsaufnahmen durch und analysieren den Einfluss des Bodens auf die Artzusammensetzungen und deren Verlauf mit der Zeit. Die Daten werden ausgewertet und diskutiert.
Lecture notesHandouts will be supplied in class.
LiteratureSpecialized literature will be available during classes
Prerequisites / NoticeBei den Felduntersuchungen sind gute Kleidung und Schuhe, Sonnen- und Regenschutz, sowie Massnahmen gegen Zeckenkrankheiten notwendig; die TeilnehmerInnen sind hierfür selbst verantwortlich.
701-0243-AALBiology III: Essentials of Ecology
Enrolment ONLY for MSc students with a decree declaring this course unit as an additional admission requirement.

Any other students (e.g. incoming exchange students, doctoral students) CANNOT enrol for this course unit.
3 credits6RJ. Alexander
AbstractThis course assigns reading for students needing further background for understanding ecological processes. Central problems in ecology, including population growth and regulation, the dynamics of species interactions, the influence of spatial structure, the controls over species invasions, and community responses to environmental change will be explored from basic and applied perspectives.
ObjectiveStudents will understand how ecological processes operate in natural communities. They will appreciate how mathematical theory, field experimentation, and observational studies combine to generate a predictive science of ecological processes.

Upon completing the course, students will be able to:

Understand the factors determining the outcome of species interactions in communities, and how this information informs management.

Apply theoretical knowledge on species interactions to predict the potential outcomes of novel species introductions.

Understanding the role of spatial structure in mediating population dynamics and persistence, species interactions, and patterns of species diversity.

Use population and community models to predict the stability of interactions between predators and prey and between different competitors.

Understand the conceptual basis of predictions concerning how ecological communities will respond to climate change.
ContentReadings from a text book will focus on understanding central processes in community ecology. Topics will include demographic and spatial structure, consumer resource interactions, food webs, competition, invasion, and the maintenance of species diversity. Each of these more conceptual topics will be discussed in concert with their applications to the conservation and management of species and communities in a changing world.
701-0323-00LPlant Ecology3 credits2VJ. Alexander
AbstractThis class focuses on ecological processes involved with plant life, mechanisms of plant adaptation, plant-animal and plant-soil interactions, plant strategies and implications for the structure and function of plant communities. The discussion of original research examples familiarises students with research questions and methods, and how to evaluate results and interpretations.
ObjectiveAfter attending this course, you will be able to:
1. Use your understanding of plant ecological theory to interpret primary data (tables, graphs) from ecological studies.
2. Critically evaluate evidence and conclusions presented in ecological studies based on your understanding of plant ecological processes.
3. Apply your knowledge of plant ecology to make general predictions about major responses of plant communities to biotic and environmental perturbations.
4. Evaluate the main methodological approaches used to study ecological processes in plants, and decide when they should be applied to address a research question.
ContentPlant communities can be spectacularly diverse, which has long puzzled ecologists since all plants compete for the same few limiting resources. Plants also represent the matrix of ecological communities, and the structure and dynamics of plant populations drives the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. This course provides insight into these broad themes by providing an introduction to the essential ecological processes involved with plant life. We use original research examples to discuss how ecological questions are studied and how results are interpreted. Specific topics include:

- Plant functional traits (e.g. leaf economics, phenology), and how they determine interactions between plants and their physical environment.
- Plant life-history, and the different ecological strategies plants have developed to grow, survive and reproduce.
- Intra- and interspecific competition as regulators of plant population dynamics and multispecies coexistence.
- Interactions between plants and their friends (e.g. symbiotic fungi, pollinators) and enemies (e.g. herbivores, pathogens) above- and below-ground.
- Plant functional types and rules in the assembly of plant communities.
Lecture notesHandouts and further reading will be available electronically through the course Moodle at the beginning of the semester.
Prerequisites / NoticePrerequisites
- General knowledge of plant biology
- Basic knowledge of plant sytematics
- General ecological concepts
701-0340-00LPractical Course in Environmental Biology7 credits14PC. Vorburger, J. Alexander, M. Fischer, J. Jokela
AbstractThis course aims at developing research skills in environmental biology. Students carry out small research projects in plant ecology, ecological genetics, aquatic ecology and population biology. These projects include field surveys as well as garden and laboratory experiments. Students analyse their data statistically and present the results both orally and in written reports.
ObjectiveStudents learn how to carry out ecological research projects. They obtain a thorough understanding of selected research topics, and they gain practical experience in handling a wide range of organisms in various types of ecosystems.
After the course, successful participants can:
- formulate precise research questions and testable hypotheses
- design and set up experiments
- measure appropriate variables (for the studied organisms and hypotheses)
- analyse data statistically and draw conclusions from statistical outputs
- present their results according to scientific standards in the research field
ContentThe semester starts with an introduction to research questions and hypotheses, experimental design and data analysis.

During the semester, students carry out several small research projects in aquatic and terrestrial ecology, microbial ecology and ecological genetics. Projects address specific research questions related to general topics such as:
- resource acquisition
- competition, grazing, predation, parasitism
- population structure (demography, spatial patterns)
- community composition, species diversity
- species differentiation and hybridisation

During the field course (one full week after the semester), students carry out their individual project in population biology. They choose the topic, organism and system they want to study and develop their own research questions. They conduct the entire research project by themselves and present their results orally and in a report.
Prerequisites / NoticeCompulsory attendance. Absences have to be compensated.
Semester tasks: Oral and/or written presentations after different parts of the course.
701-1410-01LQuantitative Approaches to Plant Population and Community Ecology2 credits2VJ. Alexander, T. Walker
AbstractThis course presents leading problems in plant population, community and ecosystem ecology and modern tools to address them. Topics include parameterising models of plant population dynamics, using biological networks to investigate species coexistence, exploring the physiological and functional basis of plant life history strategies and quantifying how plants influence ecosystem functioning.
ObjectiveStudents will attain deep insight into topics at the cutting edge of plant ecological research, whilst developing specific skills that can later be applied to basic and applied ecological problems.
701-1461-00LEcology and Evolution: Seminar Restricted registration - show details
Direct continuation of course unit 701-1460-00L "Ecology and Evolution: Term Paper" of the previous semester (HS).
3 credits6ST. Städler, J. Alexander, S. Bonhoeffer, T. Crowther, A. Hall, J. Jokela, J. Payne, G. Velicer, A. Widmer
AbstractThe organization and functioning of academic research as well as academic publishing are introduced and applied: students critically review two term papers written by their student colleagues. Based on the reviews, the authors of the papers write reply letters and revise their own term papers. They finally present their topic during an in-house "mini-conference" with a talk.
Objective• Students become familiar with the academic peer-review and publishing process
• They learn to evaluate the quality of a manuscript and formulate constructive criticism
• They learn to deal with criticism of their own work (by their student peers)
• They practise oral presentations and discussions in English
ContentThe organization and functioning of academic research as well as academic publishing are introduced and applied: students critically review two term papers written by their student colleagues. Based on the reviews, the authors of the papers write reply letters and revise their own term papers. They finally present their topic during an in-house "mini-conference" with a talk.
Lecture notesnone
Prerequisites / NoticeDirect continuation of "Ecology and Evolution: Term Paper" of the previous semester