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SWS 6932: Ecosystem Services: Theory, Methods, and Practice


SWS4932 Forest & Soil Ecosystem Services


Chang Zhao
Assistant Professor, Agronomy
(352) 294-0994

About the Course

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services, such as the supply of food and forage; regulating services, which involve climate regulation, air and water purification, carbon sequestration, and pollination; supporting services that are fundamental to the functioning of all other ecosystem services, such as soil formation, nutrient cycling, and primary production; and cultural services through spiritual enrichment, recreation, and aesthetic experiences. 

In this course we will examine ecosystem services from an interdisciplinary perspective centering on the conceptual background, indicators and various quantitative approaches, including biophysical, socio-economic, model-, expert-, and citizen science-based methods, as well as a broad range of applications that integrate ecosystem services into decision-making. Course learning objectives include:

(1) Grasp the concept of ecosystem services and the socio-ecological processes that influence them;
(2) Learn quantification approaches that combine social and natural science methods in measuring, mapping and valuing ecosystem services; 
(3) Explore the practical applications of ecosystem services across various domains, such as conservation, land use planning, and sustainable agriculture.

Instruction will consist of a mix of lectures, class discussion, and small-group and/or individual projects.  The course is intended for undergraduate and graduate students from different disciplines.

Credits: 3
Semesters Offered: Fall
General Education Requirement Course: No

Prerequisites: A basic course in Soil Science is helpful but not required.
Textbook: Mapping Ecosystem Services
(Authors: Benjamin Burkhard, Joachim Maes)