Edible Plants (BIOL 1103)

With growing consumer consciousness and the desire to increase consumer choice, the need to explain to consumers what it is they drink and eat has increased in the food industry. This course will introduce students to the study of edible plants that are sold in markets as well as plants used in processed food products (e.g., beer). The course is intended for non-science majors and will focus on the morphology, origin, handling and processing, and quality of edible plants. Students will also learn about the importance of plants for sustainable food security and the increasing utilization of plant diversity in human diets worldwide. The course is open to all students except course credits cannot count towards the areas of major and minor in the BSc program.

Plant Development & Diversity (BIOL 2301)

Want to go green?  Well, plants have it almost perfected with high fuel efficiency in a purely solar-powered economy to cover the landscapes of Cape Breton Island and Planet Earth with green edifices of fascinating and inspiring architecture. In BIOL 2301, Plant Development and Diversity, students will discover the bricks and mortar used by plants to cover our physical environment with an amazingly diverse layer of green. Through stepwise observations of the inner and outer changes from the seed stage to the mature plant body, students will appreciate the process of developmental differentiation in shoots, leaves, and roots as well as the structural elaboration and organization of the flower as well as the whole plant body.

Sustainable Land Use (BIOL 3103)

Do you want future generations to enjoy a quality of life as good as or better than yours? Combining the cultivation of different plant species may hold the answer to food security and meeting other material needs of future generations. Although human land use has often degraded the vegetation of natural ecosystems, this has not always been the case. The cultivation of multiple plant species in fields and forests has been a long tradition in cultural landscapes for the purpose of enhancing and sustaining the productivity of lands and forests. There is a rapidly growing body of scientific literature on the cultivation of multiple plant species often referred to as sustainable forest management, organic agriculture, or agro-forestry. This course critically discusses plant-ecological aspects of agriculture and forestry research.

Plant Taxonomy (BIOL 3331)

Planning on medical school? Plants can help you! In fact, ancient healers have used their knowledge of the diversity in the plant kingdom to find cures against many human ailments and illnesses for millennia and modern health professionals continue to do the same. Knowing how to tell plants apart is the first practical step to unlock the door to the plant kingdom before anyone can make good use of them.  BIOL 3331, Plant Taxonomy, will give students the key to enter this kingdom. Students will also take pleasure in recognizing the beauty of the diverse flora that exists on Cape Breton Island. Subject to student numbers and interests, non-compulsory optional field excursions will be offered in September.

Plant Ecology (BIOL 3541)

Living on a tight budget through difficult times? Be it local food shortages or global crises, plants know it all and they have learnt to cope with it quite successfully. In BIOL 3541, Plant Ecology, students will take a fresh look at plant species and plant communities guided by an experimental scientist who enjoys researching the question of the three “hows”.  How do plants cope with limited resource supply? How do plants relate to each other and to animals? How do plants respond to disturbances by natural forces and by human invasions? The course will enable students to develop a vision towards an ecologically sustainable use of fields and forests on Cape Breton Island. Subject to student numbers and interests, classes and labs of this course may be taught outdoors in terrestrial habitats until mid-October.

Monitoring Biodiversity (BIOL 4505)

Biodiversity encompasses genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity within an area, biome or planet. As organisms, we experience and participate in this diversity every day, yet strangely we still know very little about it. Why is an understanding of biodiversity important? Because all species, including humans, are connected and if one piece of biodiversity disappears, other species can be harmed. We will explore key issues and strategies behind ecological monitoring programs including background research, implementation, and long-term conduct. We will examine international programs implemented locally and discuss classification systems for natural areas in Nova Scotia.