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Ecology and Evolution


What is the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program?

Clarion University's program in ecology and evolutionary biology is a multidisciplinary program of study leading to a B.S. in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB). By their very nature, ecology and evolutionary biology are subjects that cut across the lines of traditional biology curricula. The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program is designed to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of these fields and other biological sciences such as genetics, physiology, and molecular biology.

What can I do with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology?

BrownThe primary goal of the EEB program is to prepare students for advanced, graduate-level studies in organismal biology. We strive to develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills that form the foundation for graduate studies in ecology and evolution. Our undergraduates have opportunities to become involved in collaborative faculty-student research, and the results of these projects are regularly presented at scientific meetings and published in scientific journals. Clarion graduates have been successful in ecology and evolutionary biology programs at both the master's and doctoral level. Our graduates currently work in academia, private industry, and for local, state, and federal governments.

Why choose Clarion University?

The EEB program at Clarion has a long tradition of excellence. We believe that students learn best by doing, and we thus emphasize field-based research experiences. With the guidance and support of faculty, students apply scientific methods and theories learned in the classroom to their own research in the field, discovering first-hand how populations, communities, and ecosystems function.

What sorts of research do Clarion faculty and students do? 

Ecologists and evolutionary biologists will play a central role in scientific advances of the 21st century as they strive to understand the form and function of populations, communities, and ecosystems. Our ecology and evolutionary biology faculty and students ponder these and many other fascinating questions:

  • How does behavioral ecology help explain community structure and ecosystem function?

  • How does spatial and landscape ecology relate to the preservation of biodiversity?

  • What ecological and genetic processes promote (or inhibit) the divergence of populations and, ultimately, the process of speciation?

  • How do evolutionary changes in component populations influence community structure and ecosystem function?

  • Are ecological communities structured by universal "assembly-rules" or is each community a unique product of history, chance and environment?

  • EEB faculty, with their success as working scientists (e.g., three research projects currently funded by the National Science Foundation), provide many students with summer and academic year experience as working technicians. Our faculty also help students obtain summer internships and research experiences with private firms, government agencies, and other universities.

What does Clarion University have to offer?

HarvestFew universities, large or small, can offer the array of opportunities in field research available to undergraduates at Clarion University. Clarion is located on the Allegheny Plateau of western Pennsylvania, a forested and sparsely populated region that allows students to work in both pristine and human-altered environments. Field sites near Clarion University include:

  • Allegheny National Forest, a 275,000-acre landscape with significant remnants of old-growth forests;

  • The Clarion and Allegheny rivers, both designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers;

  • Cook Forest, Clear Creek State Park and State Forest, and State Game Lands, all of which contain large tracts of forest and numerous coldwater streams.

  • Here at Clarion we emphasize education through experiential learning. Our laboratory courses include "hands-on" field experiences, and we encourage students to pursue summer field studies. Field station resources available to Clarion students include:

    • The Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, in northwest Pennsylvania, one of the nationâs foremost ecological field stations, offers summer courses in field biology and research opportunities for undergraduates

    • The Crooked Creek Environmental Education Center offers classroom and laboratory space near the Allegheny River.

Are there additional options in ecology and evolution at Clarion?

themenClarion University offers degrees in environmental biology and in environmental geosciences. In addition, we have an environmental education certification program through the Department of Education, and we have a minor in environment and society, which is administered through biology. Ambitious students are encouraged to design their course of study to take advantage of these other degree options. Finally, Clarion University recently established the Center for Natural Resources and the Environment, which will serve as an important resource for students performing research on the Allegheny Plateau.