Showing posts from June, 2013

The Next 4-7 Years of My Life of Working in the Greater Everglades—Will It All Be Lost to Sea Level Rise?

Pine Rockland post-fire Big Pine Key, FL      As I start the first field season of my dissertation research, I am starting to get the sensation that I have jumped onto a sinking ship 1 . My chosen ecological system, the pine rocklands (see photo Big Pine Key), has a laundry list of complex and entangled threats—invasions of plant and insect species, habitat fragmentation, climate change, hurricanes, floods, fire suppression, and of course, since it is only found only within south Florida and Caribbean islands, sea level rise (SLR).               

Florida Coastal Everglades in the Classroom

PhD students at FIU are required to teach a lab for two semesters.  So, for the past two semesters I have been a teaching assistant (TA) for   Ecology lab  and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  A typical ecology lab consists of a large majority of pre-professional students (pre -med, -dental, -vet, etc.) who need an upper-level elective.  Translation:  many students are enrolled in Ecology because they have to.  I don't expect my students to change their career paths and become ecologists; I simply want them to understand why ecology is important.   Memorizing terminology and examples, while they have their place, are not as useful in the long-term – it’s the experiences and hands-on activities we remember.    I am an ecologist and all I remember from my undergraduate ecology class is going out to my university’s nature preserve looking at species abundances and distributions.   If a student who is preparing for a career in ecology and research doesn’t remember that she (or