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River and Stream Ecology (11:035:272)


Note: This syllabus is for general information about the course. The instructor will provide you with an updated syllabus specific for the semester of enrollment.

Course Description

1 Credit. Online. This broad introductory course addresses the chemical, physical, and biological processes of rivers and streams. Topics touch on channel morphology, water chemistry, fluvial geomorphology and the structure and function of the plants and animals that live in and around these water bodies. Students will gain an appreciation of streams as dynamic and constantly evolving ecosystems as well as acquiring skills to conduct and analyze scientific methods and data related to river and stream management issues. The course culminates with students completing an online stream biological assessment using actual stream data provided by the instructor.

Note: This course was previously designated 11:015:272.

Learning Goals

  • Understand the physical properties of streams and those environmental processes that influence the chemical and biological dynamics of streams
  • Understand the fundamental chemical characteristics of water quality, including temperature, dissolved oxygen and nutrients
  • Explore the origins of streams on the watershed scale by understanding how geological and climatological characteristics interact to produce regional stream morphology
  • Explore how moving water determines the structure of streams through the process of erosion, transport and deposition
  • Explore the interaction between streams and their immediate environment, including floodplains, riparian areas, hyporheic and ground water
  • Explore the functions of streams including nutrient and pollutant dynamics and metabolic processes including photosynthesis, respiration, and decomposition
  • Become familiar with microbes, plants and animals that inhabit streams and thier adaptions to the stream environment and influence with biodiversity
  • Examine the interplay between human activity and streams

Required Text

A textbook is not required for this course. All quizzes can be completed using the course information and websites provided. For those of you that would like a good basic stream ecology book, the following is recommended and can be purchased.

Cushing, Colbert E. and J. David Allen (2001). Streams: Their Ecology and Life, Academic Press. ISBN-13-978-0-12-050340-7

Basis for Grading

Students are assessed on quality and effort of their work, timeliness, and participation. Typical point values for assignments are as follows:

  • Surveys, 40 points
  • Homework, 100 points
  • Threaded discussion, 15 points
  • Class discussion, 15 points
  • Quizes, 285 points
  • Final Project, 100 points


Typical schedule of topics:

  • Pre-Course Survey
  • Introduction, Watersheds
  • Stream Hydrology / Geomorphology
  • Physcial and Chemical Characteristics
  • Trophic Relations and Energy Flow
  • Stream Habitats and Substrate
  • River Continuum Concept
  • Functional Roles
  • Stream Biota
  • Watershed Issues: Human Impacts
  • Biomonitoring
  • Final Project
  • Post Course Survey

Accomodations for Students with Disabilities

Please follow the procedures outlined at Full policies and procedures are at Office of Disability Services website.

Academic Integrity

The university's policy on Academic Integrity is available at policies on academic integrity.

The principles of academic integrity require that a student:

  • properly acknowledge and cite all use of the ideas, results, or words of others.
  • properly acknowledge all contributors to a given piece of work.
  • make sure that all work submitted as his or her own in a course or other academic activity is produced without the aid of impermissible materials or impermissible collaboration.
  • obtain all data or results by ethical means and report them accurately without suppressing any results inconsistent with his or her interpretation or conclusions.
  • treat all other students in an ethical manner, respecting their integrity and right to pursue their educational goals without interference. This requires that a student neither facilitate academic dishonesty by others nor obstruct their academic progress.
  • uphold the canons of the ethical or professional code of the profession for which he or she is preparing.

Adherence to these principles is necessary in order to ensure that:

  • everyone is given proper credit for his or her ideas, words, results, and other scholarly accomplishments.
  • all student work is fairly evaluated and no student has an inappropriate advantage over others.
  • the academic and ethical development of all students is fostered.
  • the reputation of the University for integrity in its teaching, research, and scholarship is maintained and enhanced.

NOTE: Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:

  • Resubmitting your own work that has previously been evaluated in this class or any other class.
  • Copying text directly from websites and other sources without attributing the original source(s).
  • Copying the work of students in other sections (past or present) of this course.

Failure to uphold these principles of academic integrity threatens both the reputation of the University and the value of the degrees awarded to its students. Every member of the University community therefore bears a responsibility for ensuring that the highest standards of academic integrity are upheld.

NOTE: To help protect you, and future students, from plagiarism, all essay assignments will be submitted through

Attendance and Participation Policy

Students are expected to actively participate in all of the online activities for the course. Attendance in the online sessions is determined by thorough, thoughtful, relevant and on time contributions made in the weekly assignments including threaded discussions, reaction papers and quizzes. The course proceeds with the assumption that students have thoughtfully read and reviewed the assigned materials.

Students are responsible for completion of all assigned readings, materials discussed and assignments on or before the assigned due date.

Student Wellness Services

Just In Case Web App

Access helpful mental health information and resources for yourself or a friend in a mental health crisis on your smartphone or tablet and easily contact CAPS or RUPD.

Counseling, ADAP & Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

848-932-7884 / 17 Senior Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

CAPS is a University mental health support service that includes counseling, alcohol and other drug assistance, and psychiatric services staffed by a team of professional within Rutgers Health services to support students' efforts to succeed at Rutgers University. CAPS offers a variety of services that include: individual therapy, group therapy and workshops, crisis intervention, referral to specialists in the community and consultation and collaboration with campus partners.

Violence Prevention & Victim Assistance (VPVA)

848-932-1181 / 3 Bartlett Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

The Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance provides confidential crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy for victims of sexual and relationship violence and stalking to students, staff and faculty. To reach staff during office hours when the university is open or to reach an advocate after hours, call 848-932-1181.

Disability Services

848-445-6800 / Lucy Stone Hall, Suite A145, Livingston Campus, 54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854

Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University's educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation.

If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. To begin this process, please complete the Registration form on the ODS website.

Scarlet Listeners


Free and confidential peer counseling and referral hotline, providing a comforting and supportive safe space.


Michael Haberland
Associate Professor and County Agent
Dept. of Agriculture and Natural Resources