Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology


Michael F. Piehler, Director of Graduate Studies

Adjunct Professors

Richard N. Andrews, Environmental and Energy Policy, Policy Instruments and Incentives

Lawrence E. Band, Watershed Hydrology, Ecosystem Water, Carbon and Nutrient Cycling

Larry K. Benninger, Low-Temperature Geochemistry

Philip R. Berke, Energy; Urban Form and Environmental Impacts, Land-Use

Jaye Cable, Marine Sciences, Chemical Oceanography

Richard E. Bilsborrow, Economic Demography, Population, Development and the Environment

Joe Carter, Invertebrate Paleontology

Douglas J. Crawford-Brown, Environmental Risk Assessment, Strategies for Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Barbara Entwisle, Social Demography, Population and Environment

John W. Florin, Population Geography, Medical Geography

Patricia Gensel, Paleobotany, Patterns of Evolutionary Change

Joel G. Kingsolver, Environmental Physiology, Functional Morphology, Population Ecology and Evolution

Paul W. Leslie, Human Ecology, Population Biology

Hans Paerl, Microbial Ecology, Estuarine and Coastal Ecology, Water Quality Dynamics

Robert K. Peet, Plant Community and Population Ecology, Biogeography, Ecoinformatics

Charles H. Peterson, Marine Ecology, Population and Community Processes

David W. Pfennig, Evolutionary Ecology

Andreas P. Teske, Microbial Ecology, Evolution and Systematics

Stephen J. Walsh, Land-use and Land Cover Dynamics; Spatial Modeling and Analysis

Stephen C. Whalen, Nutrient Cycling, Greenhouse Gas Production and Dynamics

Peter S. White, Plant Population and Community Ecology, Conservation Biology

Thomas M. Whitmore, Emeritus, Historical Agro-Ecology of Middle America

R. Haven Wiley, Behavioral Ecology of Vertebrates, Avian Social Behavior

Adjunct Associate Professors

Marc Alperin, Carbon Cycling in Coastal Sediments, Global Carbon Budgets

John F. Bruno, Ecology and Conservation of Marine Communities

Charles E. Konrad, Synoptic Climatology and Climate Change

Charles Mitchell, Disease Ecology, Global Change, Biological Invasions

Aaron Moody, Remote Sensing, Landscape Ecology, Biogeography, Geographical Information Systems

Michael F. Piehler, Coastal Ecosystem Ecology and Nutrient Dynamics

Maria Servedio, Evolutionary Ecology, Behavioral Ecology

Conghe Song, Remote Sensing of Vegetation, Ecological Modeling, Geographic Information Systems

Donna Surge, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, Low-Temperature Geochemistry

Alan Weakley, Plant Systematics, Floristics, Biogeography, Conservation Biology, Bioinformatics

Adjunct Assistant Professors

Todd Bendor, Computer Modeling in Human Ecological Impacts, Land Use and Environmental Planning

Karl Castillo, Eco-physiology of Coral Reefs, Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Effects

Xiaodong Chen, Coupled Human-Natural Systems, Remote Sensing and GIS

Joel Fodrie, Coastal Biological Oceanography

Clark Gray, Population Mobility and Environmental Change

Allen Hurlbert, Community Ecology, Biogeography, Avian Ecology

Pamela Jagger, Environmental Policy, Environment and Development, Sub-Saharan Africa

Nihkil Kaza, Urban Development, Energy Planning and Landscape

Adrian Marchetti, Eco-physiology and Molecular Biology of Marine Phytoplankton

Ben Mirus, Hydrogeology, groundwater hydrology

Laura Moore, Large-Scale Geologic and Modern Evolution of Coastal Environments

Lauren Persha, Conservation and Development, Social-Ecological Systems, East Africa

Karin S. Pfennig, Behavioral Ecology and Evolution, Speciation, Host-Parasite Interactions

James Umbanhowar, Theoretical Ecology, Dynamics of Species Interactions Webs, Host-Parasutoid Interactions

Colin West, Human Ecology of Global Change, Ecological Anthropology

Andrew J. Yates, Resource Economics, Environmental Markets

Associated Faculty

Cecil Frost, Fire Ecology, Plant Ecology, Landscape Ecology

Sam Pearsall, Conservation Planning, Adaptive Management, Riparian Landscapes

Johnny Randall, Conservation Biology, Restoration Ecology

Jack Weiss, Biostatistics and Quantitative Ecology

The Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology (CEE) is a multidisciplinary, degree-granting program that seeks to foster an understanding and appreciation of ecological systems and to demonstrate the value of ecological approaches to the solution of current and future environmental problems. With the participation of faculty and students from many disciplines and departments, emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary activities that explicitly consider the complexity of the environment and integrated approaches to problem identification and solution. In particular, it seeks to foster an understanding and appreciation of ecological systems, human and nonhuman, and to demonstrate the value of ecological approaches to the solution of current and future environmental problems.

The CEE places an emphasis on interdisciplinary activities, and derives one of its major strengths from the participation of faculty and students from many disciplines and departments. Current faculty come from the departments of Anthropology, Biology, Biostatistics, City and Regional Planning, Communication Studies, Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Geography, Geological Sciences, Marine Sciences, Public Policy, and Sociology. Whereas degree programs with a strong ecology component may be arranged in other departments, the curriculum—by combining many approaches and methods and by linking the social and natural sciences—explicitly considers the complexity of the environment and the need for integrated approaches to problem identification and solution.

Using the resources of many departments, the CEE provides both broad and specialized training in ecology, human ecology, and the study of environmental systems. Graduate degrees available in the curriculum are the master of science, the master of arts, and the doctor of philosophy. Applications will be accepted from persons with varied backgrounds and goals with the specific program of study and research tailored to the needs of the individual.

Requirements for Admission

For admission to the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology, an undergraduate degree is required in a natural science such as physics, chemistry, biology, bacteriology, botany, zoology, or geology; a social science such as anthropology, sociology, or economics; a mathematical area such as statistics, mathematics, or systems analysis; an engineering area; or environmental science. The deadline for a completed application in order for students to be considered for fall admission is in January. However, students must submit all curriculum and Graduate School admission materials by December if they wish to be considered for campus fellowships and other forms of graduate appointments. Late applications will cause students to miss out on some opportunities. Detailed information is available on both the CEE Web site at and the UNC Graduate School Web site at

Degree Requirements

Every student must gain an understanding of the breadth and depth of the field of ecology as it is treated among various traditional disciplines. This is accomplished in two ways: first, through the ECOL 567 and 569 sequence; and second, through the composition of the student's advisory committee. Students are required to do their best to establish residency in their first year and must apply for residency after their first year in order to be considered for tuition remission in subsequent years.

Doctor of Philosophy

Each Ph.D. student, in addition to taking ECOL 567 and ECOL 569, must register for ECOL 994 at least once for three hours credit. There are no other course requirements for the Ph.D. except for those designated by the student's graduate advisory committee.

Owing to the diversity of research methods and approaches within the field of ecology, the curriculum has no explicit research skill course requirements for graduate degrees. The student's graduate advisory committee is responsible for seeing that the student has gained the proficiencies expected of a degree candidate in the student's selected area of expertise.

Master's Degrees

Two master's degrees are offered by the curriculum: the master of science degree requiring independent research and a thesis, and the master of arts degree requiring a written library report. All master's degrees are terminal degrees at UNC–Chapel Hill. Master's students must request readmission for Ph.D. work following completion of all requirements for the master's degree.

Master of Science: The master of science course requirements are determined by the student's advisory committee. They must include a minimum of 30 hours of graduate credit (of which no less than 24 hours must be earned in courses, and at least three hours in research), and completion of the thesis. One semester of registration is required in ECOL 567 and ECOL 569, and M.S. students must register for three hours in ECOL 993.

Master of Arts: Requirements for the master of arts are the same as those for the master of science, except a master of arts paper is prepared (ECOL 992) in place of a master's thesis (ECOL 993).

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


461 Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL 461, ENST 461) (4). See BIOL 461 for description.

562 Statistics for Environmental Scientists (BIOL 562, ENST 562) (4). Prerequisite, STOR 155. Introduction to the application of quantitative and statistical methods in environmental science, including environmental monitoring, assessment, threshold exceedance, risk assessment, and environmental decision making.

563 Statistical Analysis in Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 563, ENST 563) (4). See BIOL 563 for description.

567 Ecological Analyses and Application (ENST 567) (3). This course provides an overview of natural and social science approaches to addressing biodiversity conservation and resource management. Concepts and methods from population biology, evolutionary ecology, community ecology, and conservation biology will be complemented with approaches from common property theory, indigenous resource management, and human evolutionary ecology.

569 Current Issues in Ecology (ENST 569) (3). Required preparation, previous course work in ecology. Permission of the instructor. Topics vary but focus on interdisciplinary problems facing humans and/or the environment. May be repeated for credit.

602 Professional Development Skills for Ecologists and Biologists (BIOL 602) (3). The goal of this course is to help students who intend to become professional ecologists or biologists acquire critical skills and strategies needed for achieving their career goals.

669 Seminar in Ecology (BIOL 669) (1-3). See BIOL 669 for description.

Courses for Graduate Students


765 Field Experience in Ecology (2). Graduate standing in ecology required. Organized field work in remote environments with a faculty instructor as approved by student's supervisory committee. May be repeated for credit.

891 Special Topics in Ecology (2–4). Permission of the instructor. May be repeated for credit.

961 Research in Ecology (2–21).

992 Master's Non-Thesis (3–5).

993 Master's Thesis (3–6).

994 Doctoral Dissertation (3– 21).

Ecological courses in other departments that are considered appropriate for graduate students in the Curriculum in Ecology:


703 Evolution and Ecology (3).

704 Evolution and Ecology (3).

755 Seminar in Ecology and Population (3).

766 Seminar in Ethnobotany (3).


453 Animal Societies and Communication (3).

459 Field Biology at Highlands Biological Station (1–4).

462 Marine Ecology (MASC 440) (3).

463 Field Ecology (4).

465 Global Biodiversity and Macroecology (3).

469 Behavioral Ecology (3).

471 Evolutionary Mechanisms (4).

476 Avian Biology (3).

476L Avian Biology Laboratory (1).

514 Evolution and Development (3).

561 Ecological Plant Geography (3).

563 Statistical Analysis in Ecology and Evolution (ECOL 563, ENST 563) (4).

565 Conservation Biology (3).

657 Biological Oceanography (ENVR 520, MASC 504) (4).

661 Plant Ecology (4).

662 Field Plant Geography (2).

669 Seminar in Ecology (ECOL 669) (2).

857 Seminar in Comparative Animal Behavior (NBIO 857) (2).

859 Seminar in Marine Biology (2).


664 Sample Survey Methodology (STOR 358) (4).

670 Demographic Techniques I (3).


585 American Environmental Policy (ENST 585, ENVR 585, PLCY 585) (3).

641 Ecology and Land Use Planning (3).

685 Water and Sanitation Planning and Policy in Developed Countries (ENVR 685) (3).

710 Microeconomics for Planning and Public Policy Analysis (3).

740 Land Use and Environmental Policy (3).

744 Development and Environmental Management (3).

745 Development Impact Assessment (3).

781 Water Resources Planning and Policy Analysis (ENVR 781) (3).

784 Environmental Law (ENVR 784) (3).

785 Public Investment Theory (ENVR 785, PLCY 785) (3).

786 Environmental Quality Management (ENVR 786) (3).


675 Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere (ENST 675) (3).


454 Economics of Population (3).

855 Economics and Population (3).


403 Environmental Chemistry Processes (ENST 403) (3).

412 Ecological Microbiology (3).

413 Limnology (3).

415 Biogeochemical Processes (ENST 450, GEOL 450, MASC 450) (4).

417 Oceanography (BIOL 350, GEOL 403, MASC 401) (3).

419 Chemical Equilibria in Natural Waters (3).

430 Health Effects of Environmental Agents (3).

461 Environmental Systems Modeling (ENST 415, GEOL 415, MASC 415) (3).

585 American Environmental Policy (ENST 585, PLAN 585, PLCY 585) (3).

701 Ecology of Aquatic Plants and Wetland Ecosystems (3).

765 Model-Based Exposure Mapping and Risk Assessment (3).

767 Modeling for Environmental Risk Analysis (3).

781 Water Resources Planning and Policy Analysis (PLAN 781) (3).

784 Environmental Law (PLAN 784) (3).

786 Environmental Quality Planning (PLAN 786) (3).


403 Environmental Chemistry Processes (ENVR 403) (3).

411 Oceanic Processes in Environmental Systems (GEOL 411, MASC 411) (4).

415 Environmental Systems Modeling (ENVR 461, GEOL 415, MASC 415) (3).

470 Environmental Risk Assessment (ENVR 470) (3).

480 Environmental Decision Making (PLCY 480) (3).

489 Ecological Processes in Environmental Systems (4).

520 Environment and Development (INTS 520, PLCY 520) (3).

585 American Environmental Policy (ENVR 585, PLAN 585, PLCY 585) (3).

675 Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere (COMM 675) (3).


600 Principles of Epidemiology (3).

785 Environmental Epidemiology (3).

786 Community-Driven Epidemiology and Environmental Justice (2).


410 Modeling of Environmental Sciences (3).

412 Synoptic Meteorology (3).

414 Climate Change (3).

416 Applied Climatology (3).

419 Field Methods in Physical Geography (3).

420 Fundamental Concepts of Human Geography (3).

434 Cultural Ecology of Agriculture, Urbanization, and Disease (3).

435 Environmental Politics (3).

440 Earth Surface Processes (GEOL 502) (3).

441 Introduction to Watershed Systems (3).

442 River Processes (3).

444 Landscape Biogeography (3).

445 Medical Geography (3).

450 Population Geography (3).

477 Introduction to Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing (3).

491 Introduction to GIS (PLAN 491) (3).

577 Advanced Remote Sensing (3).

591 Applied Issues in Geographic Information Systems (PLAN 591) (3).

595 Ecological Modeling (3).

705 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Geography (3).

710 Advanced Physical Geography—Biogeoscience (3).

711 Advanced Physical Geography— Hydroclimatology and Bioclimatology (3).

715 Land Use/Land Cover Dynamics and Human Environment Interaction (3).

790 Spatial Analysis and Computer Modeling (3).

801 Research Seminar in Earth System Science and Biophysical Geography (3).

802 Research Seminar in Geographic Information Sciences (3).

803 Research Seminar in Nature-Society Studies and Human-Environment Interactions (3).

811 Seminar/Readings in Earth System Science and Biophysical Geography (3).

812 Seminar/Readings in Geographic Information (3).

813 Seminar/Readings in Nature-Society Studies and Human-Environment Interactions (3).


401 Oceanography (BIOL 350, ENVR 417, GEOL 403) (3).

410 Earth Processes in Environmental Systems (ENST 410, GEOL 410) (4).

411 Oceanic Processes in Environmental Systems (ENST 411, GEOL 411) (4).

415 Environmental Systems Modeling (ENST 415, ENVR 461, GEOL 415) (3).

430 Coastal Sedimentary Environments (GEOL 430) (3).

440 Marine Ecology (BIOL 462) (3).

449 Ecology of Wetlands (ENVR 449) (4).

450 Biogeochemical Processes (ENST 450, ENVR 415, GEOL 450) (4).

472 Barrier Island Ecology and Geology (6).

504 Biological Oceanography (BIOL 657, ENVR 520) (4).

505 Chemical Oceanography (ENVR 505, GEOL 505) (4).

506 Physical Oceanography (GEOL 506) (4).

741 Seminar in Marine Biology (2).


741 Latin American Politics: Research and Analysis (3).


480 Environmental Decision Making (ENST 480) (3).

520 Environment and Development (ENST 520, INTS 520) (3).

585 American Environmental Policy (ENST 585, ENVR 585, PLAN 585) (3).


453 Social Change in Latin America (3).

707 Measurement and Data Collection (3).

803 Human Ecology (3).

830 Demography: Theory, Substance, Techniques, Part I (3).

831 Demography: Theory, Substance, Techniques, Part II (3).

832 Migration and Population Distribution (3).