Water, Aquatic Ecology, and Land-Water Linkages

This course looks at water across the globe in relation to (1) aquatic ecology, (2) land-water interactions, emphasizing hydrology and water quality, and (3) human activities. Each of these aspects is covered in all parts of the course, although the emphasis shifts among them.The course is organized broadly into five parts. Topics are covered from local to continental scales and are illustrated with examples and case studies from around the world.Part 1: Background information and a broad overview of the subject, including the importance and values of water, physical and chemical characteristics, ecological concepts, ecosystem services, human impacts, and approaches to sustainable water-resources management and the maintenance of healthy aquatic ecosystems. Part 2: Hydrology of groundwater and surface waters, land use and the hydrologic cycle, hydrologic calculations, approaches to managing infiltration and runoff, groundwater-surface water interactions, water quality issues, and implications of excessive water withdrawals.Part 3: Aquatic ecosystems – flowing waters, lakes and ponds, temporary waters, shorelines and riparian areas, inland and coastal wetlands, nearshore coastal waters; their connections with each other; and their relationships with the terrestrial landscape and land uses, including the built environment and natural areas. Part 4: Dams, flood control, water supply, and water/wastewater treatment in relation to human needs, impacts on aquatic ecosystems, and long-term sustainability. Part 5: Legal and regulatory topics, especially in the context of wetlands protection and stormwater management; BMPs for preventing, mitigating, or reversing adverse impacts; and special topics.Objectives and outcomes: This course is intended to provide students with an understanding of water and aquatic ecosystems that will – inform their professional approaches to architecture, landscape architecture, and urban and regional planning, and – contribute to protecting, improving, restoring, and sustaining water resources. Course Format:This is primarily a lecture course, but some time will be spent each week in class discussions of readings, practical hands-on exercises in hydrological analysis and site evaluation, or brief student presentations. A weekend field trip to Central Massachusetts in early spring will visit a variety of aquatic habitats and water-resources management projects in urban and rural settings.Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on participation in class discussions and exercises, performance on three short (2-page) written assignments and a quiz, and an oral presentation and final paper on a research topic or design problem of interest to the student.Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites. Previous course work in ecology, landscape ecology, water resources management, geography, geology, hydrology, or engineering may be useful but is not necessary.