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Welcome to FORS 6200: Advanced Topics
~ Theory of (Ecology) Science ~


Image: Sampling soil microbes following the 416 fire in southwest Colorado. A test of disturbance theory, sampling design reflects a series of philisophical decsions in order to best test a hypothesis within the theortical frameowrk - different sampling designs yiled different results. For the love of wisdom and our curious minds, making smart choices from concept to practice matters.


This course is taught for credit at New Mexico Highlands University within the department of forestry! Please enjoy the materials if your are not a student in the class, and consider enrolling if you are interested in furthering your career in forestry. 

Welcome to FORS 6200 – Theory of Ecology


This course will use a theory-based approach to help us contextualize and frame the theoriesfrom which our hypotheses tests are framed. 


You could be a human health scientist, wildlife biologist, plant ecologist, or something else, and this class will be a thrilling adventure in the philosophy of science! 

This website contains links to recorded lectures, readings, and assignments for the class. If you are enrolled in this class at New Mexico Highlands University please refer to your course page and the posted syllabus for due dates and deadlines.

The paper syllabus with complete campus resources is available here ~

Course Information

Course Number: 

Course Name: 

Lecture Meeting Time:

Lecture Meeting Place: 

Course Instructor: 

Office Location: 




Zoom Information: 

FORS 6200

Theory of Ecology



IA 220


IHS 135

Michael Remke


Zoom Room; Password: Theory

Student Hours:

Monday: 10:00am-12:00pm coffee hour

Tuesday: 2:00pm-4:00pm seltzer hour

Wednesday: 11:00am-1:00pm lunch hour

Student hours are times when my office is open for drop in conversation regartding course work or anything else forestry, tree, ecology,  or life related. These times can be accessed via the Zoom link here

Zoom office hours : Zoom Room

To submit an anonymous question or comment, use the QR code below - I will respond to questions and commets to the whole class

If the listed student hour times do not align with your schedule and needs, please use the below QR code to schedule an alternative meeting time. Please be flexible with this tool as my schedule may not allow the time you choose. 


Books and Readings:

Textbook and Readings:  Theory of Ecology (Scheiner). (ISBN: 9780226736853). Additional readings to be provided. We will only read chapters 1-3 of the above book and I will provide pdfs of these readings, but I highly recommend this book for your personal academic library. 



This course will feature many peer-reviewed papers that the enrolled students will determine. Much of our learning will be in peer-peer learning format, and group discussions are a critical part of this course. 


QRCode for Class question or comment-2.png

Learning Goals:

1. Mastery of content knowledge
2. Critical and reflective thinking skills
3. Ability to communicate effectively
4. Ability to use technology

This course focuses on contextualizing our studies within the broader framework from which we are working as researchers. We will learn to understand philosophical strengths (and limitations) of the hypothesis test concept in the scientific method. We will also work to learn the hierarchical structure of scientific theory and where our specific hypotheses tests fit into the domain of our field(s) of study. 

NMHU Learning Goals:

Course Learning Objectives: 

Learig Goals


1. Scientific theory

2. The domain of ecology

3. Ecological stoichiometry and the law of the minimum

4. Content from peers interests and background


1. Critical thinking

2. Sampling design within the hypothesis test framework

3. Interpretation of results within the hypothesis test framework

4. Discussion skills, professional ethics, and discussion facilitation

Readings and Assignments:

Click these icons to access assignments
Click these icons to access readings
Click these icons to access lecture slides





Readings and Assignments Due In Class




Course Overview

No reading due




Theory in Ecology

Scheiner & Willig Ch 1




Theory causes change

Scheiner & Willig Ch 2



Unifying Theory?

Scheiner & Willig Ch 3

Week Four

Week Five



What theory are you testing?

Ecological Stoichometry, Mycorrhizae
Remke et al 2020

Week Six



Peggy class discussion

Romme & Floyd Hannah 2003 -
Ancient Pinon-Juniper

Week Seven



Dillon class discussion

Salk 2020 -
Common garden Studies

Week Eight



Gut microbiome - Jordan Discussion

Week Nine





Week Ten



Bacterial communities - Jon Discussions

Week 11



Week 12



Week 13



Water - Kiara Discussion

Week 14



Week 15



Week 16





Good Luck and Have a Great Field Season!

Class Format

Part I:



This part of the class will be a brief lecture-style class that explores concepts outlined in the reading for the day. This will be a discussion facilitated by me (Remke).

We will be active listeners when others are speaking, and we will contribute to classroom activities and functions as appropriate. We will honor our community Rules of Engagement

Part II



After a short break we will reconvene for a student-led discussion. Each student will pick a paper they consider to be seminal for their graduate studies and lead the class in an interactive discussion regarding the paper with a particular focus on 1) hypothesis testing, theory, and limitations. 


Where do you even begin in selecting a paper? Well maybe you already have an idea. Maybe your adviser has a good suggestion or someone on your committee? 


If you are still stumped or want help thinking about your discussion, then come talk to me! 😀



This class is going to utilize ungrading practices. Instead of evaluating your progress and activity based on traditional assessments and quizzes, I will utilize a self-grading approach where your evaluate your own performance and justify your grade to me. It is not guaranteed that I will agree with your rhetoric, particularly is logic flaws exist or your assertions need to be supported with evidence. 


Ultimately, I will have to issue you a standard letter grade, so please see the remarks below about grades for additional consideration on this topic. 


A self-assessment assignment will provide additional details on the self-grading process. 


Grades are reported to the university using the standard grading scale outlined below based on the percentage of your total grade. Since this class does not have a traditional assessment, consider the percentage ranges as the amount of effort you put into this course; the point of grades is to help you learn, so I encourage you to focus on the Rubric Category and Rubrics instead of the grade.  


Percent Range



Rubric Category

Excelling (4)









Sufficient (3)

Developing (2)

Needs Improvement (1)


Late assignments:


Since there are no assignments in the traditional sense, instead consider your biggest priority being reading material before class and sharing your chosen article in a timely manor. Failure to do so will be demonstrated with lack of familiarity of the material in class discussions and everyone being upset with you for the shortened time frame to read your article.

Ruh oh.  

If you nees help learning how to talk with your professor, remember we are humans with our own humaness and flaws, but also see these:

How to communicate with your professor

How to email your professor

Attendance is mandatory. If you live in Las Vegas and are not ill, then I expect you to attend in person. If you live outside of the Las Vegas area, are ill, or have an extraneous circumstance, attending via Zoom is acceptable. Discussions will be much more meaningful in person, and I will do my best to make Zoom and equally inclusive learning experience. 


Should you miss class – Well shoot. Every day is special. The biggest consequence in my opinion is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). In professional settings, missing an obligation is acceptable with proactive communication and a dedication to making up missed material independently. Interpret this for how you wish in your self-assessment. 

If you miss class, these are helpful :

 What to do when you miss class. 

How to catch up


Rules of Engagement: 

We develop these rules as a group on the first day of class. The point is to ensure we have a respectful classroom setting everyone can agree with and feel comfortable with. If someone is violating these rules, we can politely point out the situation and remedy the problem as a group or as individuals within the group. The point is to ensure we are all empowered and supported rather than me, the professor, holding disproportionate rule-making and enforcing authority. 

Example Rules: 


  1. Be present

  2. Assume positive intent

  3. Critique ideas, not people

  4. If you identify a problem, present a solution as well

  5. Make mistakes

  6. If you take space, make space

Academic Integrity Policy:

New Mexico Highlands University students and faculty are expected to maintain integrity through honesty and responsibility in all their academic work.

Academic dishonesty includes plagiarism, Cheating, Collusion, Facilitation, Fabrication, Multiple Submissions, and Falsification of Records.

ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools help look up questions or ideas; however, copying and pasting AI-generated answers is still academically dishonest.

Additional Resources:

This course follows the Highlands Academic Integrity Policy as described in the catalog: 

Academic Integrity Policy

Cell Phone and Electronics Policy:

Cell phones can both distract and enhance the learning environment.


We will develop rules regarding cell phone use together as a class, please reference the Rules of Engagement for more details.

Preparedness and Etiquette Policy:

 Having the proper etiquette for the day means having a good attitude and being part of the team that is our class.

Specific Rules of Engagement will be made on the first day of class and added to this syllabus

Support and Resources


Health and Mental Health Services



The health Center offers basic student medical and wellness services included primary care, illness diagnosis and wound treatment.

The health center also provides students with counseling services for mental health and wellness.


The health Center offers basic student medical and wellness services included primary care, illness diagnosis and wound treatment.

The health center also provides students with counseling services for mental health and wellness.

Contact Information



901 Baca Street

Las Vegas, NM,87701

The NM Crisis and Access line is a 24/7 phone service for counseling and mental health emergency support line.

They also offer warm peer calls and text messaging for non-crisis but need-to-talk-to-someone moments.

Any mental health challenge or emergency can be met with professional counseling and confidentiality by calling this number.

Crisis and Access Line

Call only:


Peer-to-Peer Warm Line

Call or text:


Food Resources

A general store and food pantry

Emergency Funding

The student extreme hardship fund can support students with challenging financial circumstances 

The outdoor recreation center offers gear, including jackets, for outdoor recreation. 

Eating a healthy diet helps us focus and thrive


SUB Room 110

This can help students pay for rent or groceries when facing hardship. There also the Dean Farmer Fund



Students can rent camping gear, jackets, rafting gear, bikes, and many other items to enjoy outside.

Hint: could be useful for class ;)

Adrian Gallegos

505-454-3495 or 


Academic and Professional Development Services




Contact Information

The ARMAS center is a place for studying and peer support in the sciences. 

Having a study community and place to work on campus can enhance productivity and sense of belonging in the academic community


The dean of students is a resource for all student affair related questions and concerns.

The Dean is an administrative role at the University and the Dean of Student brings student functions to University Administrations. 

Kimberly Blea



Human Resources is the office that ensures fair hiring and payroll.

The human resources office can help with any and all issues related to payroll and hiring.


Mass Communications Building, East, Room 138

Professional development can connect you with on and off campus jobs

This center offers interview practice, resume building and more services


Felix Martinez Building, Room230

Academic databases, books, digital media and more

The library can help you with research support and finding academic resources. The library also loans computers to students! 

Computer loan program


Professional Job Boards

Job boards are where professionals list employment opportunities

Connects you to opportunities nationwide and internationally where you can build experience and your professional network.

Harassment and Crisis Services




Contact Information

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. 


If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you are encouraged to contact the Center for Advocacy, Resources, Education, & Support (HU-CARES)

HU-CARES is a confidential and professional service with individuals who are trained in helping students with these unfortunate circumstances.


HU-CARES will facilitate making a student’s campus and off-campus experience safe and can help connect students with housing opportunities if they are displaced because of violence or harassment.


See the website for scheduling an appointment. HU-CARES also offers counseling and confidential crisis support services.

Leon Bustos



24/7 Crisis Call/Text:


Title IX is a law that prevents discrimination based on sex.

Title IX has online reporting forms (see website) and offers professional and confidential ways to report incidents.

Ruth Mariampolski 

505-454-3363 or

Campus police can be called for any non-emergency situation. Locked out of a room? Locked out of your dorm? Call campus police.

Campus police are friendly and helpful members of our community. They help us all when we need help and help make our campus a safe and vibrant place.

Immediate emergency: 911

On-campus emergency: (campus phones) 5555,

cell phones 505-454-3278

Non-emergency: 505-454-3278

Additional Support and Services



Personal Needs

Field-based coursework and college in general can be challenging and bring us out of our comfort zones.


Finding peers in the classroom our outside of class to talk through our challenges can help us grow as foresters.


Communicating with friends and peers in the class builds community and connections.


Other people probably feel similar challenges and validate our experience and can help offer solutions we had not considered.

Contact Information

Call your friends, talk with someone in class, or contact me, Michael. I try to be understanding and supportive of all circumstances


In accordance with federal law, it is university policy to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If you believe you have a physical, learning, or psychological circumstance that creates extra challenges in your learning, we have services to help overcome those challenges.


These can include physical injuries, dyslexia, mental health circumstances and many others.

Seeking services from the school can help by increasing the time allotted for you to take examinations, giving you quiet study rooms to take exams, offering alternative assignment and exam formats and/or finding additional mentors to help you learn how to live with exactly who you are.


These services are confidential and respect student privacy.



Lora Shields Building,

2nd floor, room 250.

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