December 1, 2016

Stable Isotope Ecology 2017 IAP course

Ever wonder how energy moves through a system or how food webs are modeled? Then please join us!

2017 IAP Course 2.S972 LO1 4-265
2.S972 Undergraduate Special Subject in Mechanical Engineering

Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 am -12:00 pm
January 10 – February 2, 2017

The use of stable isotopes for investigating past, current, and future environmental conditions has increased in popularity over the last decade. Applications include climate science, natural resource management, commercial fisheries management, anthropogenic impact assessments, pollution control, habitat restoration, and ecosystem processes, to name a few. The course will provide a basic introduction for the use of stable isotopes in ecological assessments. We will start with a primer on stable isotopes as they occur in natural systems, fractionation, and how environmental conditions can influence the relationship between light and heavy isotopes. We will discuss how isotopes of multiple elements are used to investigate the trophic transfer of energy through a system, and how computer mixing models are used in food web analysis. Real-world applications of stable isotope analyses in professional settings will also be discussed. Toward the end of the course we will visit an isotope lab where students will interact with scientists conducting research and see first-hand how a stable isotope processing lab works.

Course Objectives
1. Basic understanding of stable isotopes chemistry and how stable isotopes are used in ecological assessments, including trophic transfer, fractionation, and food web modeling
2. Basic understanding of how a stable isotope lab works
3. Basic understanding of stable isotope sample preparation and processing protocols
4. Basic understanding of descriptive statistics and mixing models used to analyze and interpret stable isotope data

Please email Robert Vincent to pre-register at

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