person with short hair and glasses
Office
McCardell Bicen Hall 371
Tel
(802) 443-5488
Email
kcoe@middlebury.edu

Kirsten K. Coe is a plant ecophysiologist, focusing on how environmental stress shapes plant performance and growth, and in turn how plant responses influence ecosystem level processes. She uses mosses as a model system to answer questions in this domain, focusing on ecosystems where they carry large ecological importance, often as keystone species. The Coe lab applies a combination of field manipulation experiments, stable isotope analysis, and laboratory photosynthetic stress assessment using infrared gas analysis and chlorophyll fluorescence. Two current lab research foci include (1) an NSF-funded project exploring the ecological, physiological, and genetic basis of desiccation tolerance in Syntrichia, a diverse clade of dryland mosses; and (2) the influence of symbioses between nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and peatland mosses on nitrogen cycling.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Ecology and Evolution
In this introduction to ecology and evolutionary biology we will cover the topics of interspecific interactions (competition, predation, mutualism), demography and life-history patterns, succession and disturbance in natural communities, species diversity, stability and complexity, causes of evolutionary change, speciation, phylogenetic reconstruction, and population genetics. The laboratory component will examine lecture topics in detail (such as measuring the evolutionary response of bacteria, adaptations of stream invertebrates to life in moving water, invasive species and their patterns of spread). We will emphasize experimental design, data collection in the field and in the laboratory, data analysis, and writing skills. This course is not open to seniors and second semester juniors in the Fall. 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. lab

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

Biology of Plants
An introduction to plants, their life cycles, and their relationships to each other, as well as to the animals that pollinate them, disperse their fruits, and eat them. We will discuss morphology, physiology, evolution, and natural history of plants (mosses, ferns, gymnosperms, angiosperms). The laboratory will emphasize plant identification, various aspects of plant ecology and physiology, plant morphology, and plant use by humans. Students will complete a Community Service component, such as completing a forest inventory for a local forest, assisting with the campus tree map, or help with seed-saving measures at the College Organic Garden. Field trips will be the norm early in the semester. (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Global Change Biology
We will examine the effects of global climate change on the earth system. Our emphasis will be on exploring what we know about the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them. We will examine primary literature-based case studies to reveal how biologists study processes of change on local and global scales, and we will assess how accurately we can predict future changes in species distribution and ecosystem function. In lab, we will apply simulation techniques to predict carbon dioxide and global temperatures into the next century, and couple citizen science platforms (e.g. iNaturalist) with species distribution modeling to predict ecological interactions in future climates. No prior computational modeling experience required/assumed. (BIOL 0140) 3 hrs. lect. 3 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Desert Ecology
Drylands (deserts, semi-deserts, savannas) account for over 40 percent of Earth’s terrestrial area and are home to two billion people. They represent the most stressful of habitats, but also are home to organisms possessing the most incredible adaptations to survive. In this course we will explore the unique biology of desert ecosystems across the globe, using primary literature, review articles, and nonfiction works to answer: What selective pressures shape physiology and ecology in desert organisms? How have plants and animals evolved to survive in deserts? How are humans and climate change altering dryland ecosystems on local and global scales? (BIOL0140 or instructor permission) 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

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Course Description

Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0500, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in BIOL 0700, Senior Independent Study. (BIOL 0211. Approval required) 3 hrs. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0700, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (BIOL 0211. Approval required; open only to seniors) 3 hrs. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
Seniors majoring in Biology who have completed one or more semesters of BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 and who plan to complete a thesis should register for BIOL 0701. In this course students will produce a written thesis, deliver a public presentation of the research on which it is based, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. Open to Biology and joint Biology/Environmental Studies majors. (BIOL 0211 and BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 or waiver; instructor approval required for all students) 3 hrs. disc

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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