Oregon State University

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

GEO 548 - Field Research in Geomorphology and Landscape Ecology

Instructor:Julia Jones
Meeting:September 22-26, 2013, at the HJ Andrews Forest; one hour weekly during fall term, Wednesdays noon - 1pm.
Text:Readings provided online
Grading:Participation, field notes (60%), group paper (20%), final oral exam (20%)
Objective:To formulate and test multiple hypotheses about landscape-scale interactions among ecological and geomorphic processes.
Logistics(PDF, 2012)
GEO 548


This course is a residential field class for advanced graduate students. The course is designed to provide all natural science students, irrespective of their specific research topic and/or ecosystem of study, with the capacity to (1) understand and interpret the natural history of landscapes, (2) construct and test multiple alternative hypotheses to explain observed phenomena in landscapes, and (3) design and conduct fieldwork relevant to spatio-temporal models and resource management and policy.

Fieldwork will consist of exploring the geologic, geomorphic and human history of the High Cascades and western Cascades; their implications for spatial and temporal patterns of climate, hydrology, species (plants, animals, insects), and natural disturbances (fire, wind, floods); and the interacting effects of natural disturbance processes with human disturbances (timber harvest, roads) and management (conservation reserve design) as mediated by land ownership patterns. We will consider past, current and future press (e.g. climate change) and pulse (e.g. fire) disturbances and their consequences for flooding, species distributions, and the success of alternative resource management strategies (natural range of variability-based management, conservation reserve design). Discussion of how to extend these principles to other ecosystems (e.g., marine, non-forested) will be encouraged.

Students will conduct their own field project on a topic to be determined for that year. Students will be based at the HJ Andrews Forest for four days of fieldwork and student-led field research projects, followed by weekly one-hour meetings during fall term.

Part 1: Residential field class at the H.J. Andrews Forest. Meeting time: September 22-26, 2013, H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest

Part 2: Preparation of class paper. Meeting time: one hour weekly during fall term, Wednesdays noon - 1pm.


Each student will be expected to participate actively in field exercises and related food preparation and group gatherings. Participation includes active listening, questioning, hypothesis formulation, use of landscape interpretation techniques.

Field-based Assignments

Students will be given a handout and expected to take notes during the field class. These notes will be converted into specific diagrams and handed in and evaluated at the end of the field trips (due September [TBA]). Questions for each field day are listed on the syllabus.

Group Paper

We will meet to discuss preparation of a class paper on Wednesdays during fall quarter. Each student will be responsible for writing an identifiable portion of the paper. The paper will have the following structure:

  1. Introduction and Objective: To develop and test landscape-scale hypotheses about the interactions among ecological and geomorphic processes
  2. Study Site
  3. Field methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. Literature Cited

Final Oral Exam

Each student will be examined orally for 20 minutes at the end of the quarter. Exam questions are shown on the syllabus. Preparation includes active participation and notes from field exercises, and reading the required and optional readings.