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Interested in integrative biology?  Consider the Designated Emphasis in Organism-Environment Interactions. This program targets students’ needs and interests to use rapidly emerging molecular technology to tackle the most pressing issues related to how organisms respond to predictable and unpredictable environmental change. We welcome students from a variety of Graduate Groups across campus to participate in this new program.

Scope: We are facing an era of rapid global change that has pervasive effects on all biological systems. Yet no graduate group at UC Davis provides a comprehensive training program in the physiological processes and associated adaptive mechanisms organisms use to respond to environmental change, including rapid change due to anthropogenic causes. OEI fills this need. The DE OEI complements existing programs while training students in principles pertinent to understanding functional responses of organisms to the environment, from organismal to molecular levels of investigation.
The focus is integrative, providing training in environmental processes and organismal adaptation and response as part of a consistent framework. For example, what are the important components of environmental change? How do animals perceive them and transduce this information through neural and endocrine secretions that regulate appropriate changes in morphology, physiology and behavior? This program is forward thinking, and represents a synthesis of modern mechanistic research, including behavioral endocrinology and sensory biology, animal design, comparative physiology, functional morphology, evolution and phylogenetics, and environmental developmental biology. Our goal is to help students design an integrative curriculum, rooted in comparative biology, structured within a modern, evolutionary framework with integration to processes of the physical environment.

The DE-OEI includes electives and training in three core principles:

1. Evolutionary Adaptation of Organisms to Processes that have shaped life on earth, including physical processes of earth systems, and environmental change over earth’s history. Specific topics will include:

    • Earth history and deep geologic time
    • Terrestrial, ocean and atmospheric processes over paleo and modern eras.
    • Temporal processes – circannual, monthly, diel and episodic changes
    • Physical variation and weather – temperature, salinity, hypoxia, climate, unpredictable events such as storms and El Niño-Southern Oscillation events, hemispheric differences
    • Anthropogenic alterations – induced climate change, habitat alterations, invasive species, pollution, ocean acidification and overpopulation

 2. Mechanisms Underlying Organismal Diversity, both past and present. Specific topics will include:

    • Biological diversity
    • Form and functional adaptation
    • Life history strategies and developmental “programs”
    • Biomechanics    
    • Systematics

3. The Diversity of Mechanisms for coping with environmental change.

    • Molecular and developmental responses
    • Neural and endocrinological mechanisms – physiological pathways for environmental signals.
    • Reproductive mechanisms
    • Sensory function and adaptation
    • Movement patterns and migration

Click here for Degree Requirements.

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