Syllabus: Integral Restoration and Ecological Design

Environmental Studies Capstone 600: Integral Restoration and Ecological Design

Term: Summer 2011

Meeting times: MTW 9-4; May 23-June 12

Meeting place: 322 Birge Hall, Lakeshore Nature Preserve


  • Peter Allen, Environment & Resources Ph.D. candidate
  • Stephen Thomforde, Environment & Resources Ph.D. candidate

Credit: This course is only officially open to Environmental Studies certificate students. If you’d like to just sit in or help out, let me know!

Overview: This course will utilize the Lakeshore Nature Preserve as a case study to explore our area’s ecological and cultural history, while thinking and planning for its future. The course will include traditional lectures, readings, and discussions, but will also include considerable time outdoors learning natural history and engaging in hands-on projects. Lectures and readings will explore the ecological history of the Upper Midwest Savanna Ecoregion from multiple perspectives and will review ecological theory and current restoration philosophies and techniques. Projects will include ecosystem restoration and native perennial polyculture design. The course will culminate in a written management plan for project areas

Format: We only have 8 official days together. Let’s make the most of them!

We’ll split our days in the classroom and outside. We’ll meet at 9:00 am at 322 Birge Hall, unless otherwise notified. We’ll have a brief lecture or two on the day’s topic, and then we’ll have a general discussion of the material and readings. Then we’ll break for lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll head outside, usually meeting at the picnic point entrance to hike, talk ecology, do some restoration work or garden design. We’ll conclude each day with a debriefing and plan for the next. Be sure to dress appropriately for the day’s activities and bring plenty of water. We’ll be flexible, watch the weather, and modify the schedule as necessary.

Readings: We’ll be discussing the readings listed for each day on that day, so be sure to have them read before class. Some days have lots of readings listed. Learn how to skim and effectively digest articles. I’ll make digital copies available of any book chapters assigned. I will have the books and hard copies of the articles on my desk in 322. If you’d like to borrow a book or article, just ask.

Transportation: We’ll be moving between Birge and the Lakeshore pretty frequently. There is an 80 bus that drops off at the picnic point entrance. I’ll be biking. If you’d like a bike and don’t have one, let me know and we’ll see about getting you a rental for the term. If we all have bikes, we could feasibly take a short field trip to the Arboretum or Olin Park one afternoon.


Day 1 – May 23

Day 2 – May 24

  • theme: ecosystem concepts – complexity and resilience; keystones and biotic controls
  • activity: restoration work in LNP; choose species, and order plants
  • readings: 
    1. Levin, S.A. 1998. Ecosystems and the Biosphere as Complex Adaptive Systems.  Ecosystems 1:431-436.
    2.  Odum, E.P. 1969. The strategy of ecosystem development. Science 164:262-270. (skim, check out the table)
    3.  Lovelock, J.E. 1972. Gaia as seen through the atmosphere. Atmospheric Environment, 6(8)
    4. Scheffer, M., Carpenter, S.R., Foley, J.A., Folke, C., and B.H. Walker. 2002.  Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature 413: 519-596.
    5. Resilience concepts:
    6. Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman. Integral Ecology. The return of interiority (optional)

Day 3 – May 25

  • theme: intro to permaculture; forest gardening; ecological design principles
  • activity: site assessment; start thinking about garden design
  • readings: 
    1. Masanobu Fukuoka. The Natural Way of Farming. Introduction, Fruit Trees
    2. David Jackie. Edible Forest Garden. Visions of paradise, Social structure: niches, relationships, and community

Friday May 27: field trip to Hilltop community farm

  • Meet behind Birge Hall at 8:15, we’ll be back by 5
  • We’ll tour their property, see the gardens and orchards, and hear their story
  • check out and browse their website:

Day 4 – May 31

  • theme: history, ecology, and restoration of the upper midwest
  • activity: restoration work in LNP
  • readings: 
    1. John Curtis. The Vegetation of Wisconsin. Intro to southern mesic forests and savanna
    2. Nuzzo, V. A. 1986. Extent and Status of Midwest Oak Savanna: Presettlement and 1985. Natural Areas Journal 6(2): 6-36. (skim)
    3. Nowacki, G.J., and M.D. Abrams. 2008. The Demise of Fire and “Mesophication” of Forests in the Eastern United States. Bioscence 58(2): 123-138.
    4. Johnson, C.N. 2009. Ecological consequences of Late Quaternary extinctions of megafauna. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 2509-2519.
    5. Gerald W. Williams, References on the American Indian Use of Fire in Ecosystems.
    6. Kimmerer, R. W. 2000. Native Knowledge for Native Ecosystems. Journal of Forestry 98(8): 4-9
    7. Martinez, D. 1993. Land and Culture. Winds of Change. Winter 1993. 50-53.

Day 5 – June 1

  • theme: oaks and indians: digging deeper into Midwestern history and ecology
  • activity: hike around preserve and locate/tag valuable nut trees
  • readings:
    1. Aldo Leopold. Sand County Almanac. Bur oak
    2. Donald Peatie. A Natural History of Trees. The eastern white oak
    3. William Bryant Logan. Oak: the frame of civilization. Balanoculture
    4. Abrams, M. D. and G. J. Nowacki. Native Americans as active and passive promoters of mast and fruit trees in the eastern US. The Holocene 18(7): 1123-1137.
    5. Bainbridge, D. A. 1985. The Rise of Agriculture: A New Perspective. Ambio 14 (3): 148-151.
    6. Paul Gardner. The ecological structure and behavioral implications of mast exploitation strategy. (optional)

Day 6 – June 6

  • theme: ecosystem restoration and management
  • activity: LNP restoration work or biking tour of Madison savannas (Olin park and    Arboretum)
  • readings:
    1. McNaughton, S. J. 1984. Grazing Lawns: Animals in Herds, Plant Form, and Coevolution. The American Naturalist 124(6): 863-886.
    2. Alan Savory. Holistic Management
    3. Fuhlendorf, S. D., Townsend, D. E., and R. D. Elmore. Pyric Herbivory: Rewilding landscapes through the recoupling of fire and grazing. Conservation Biology 23(3): 588-599.

Day 7 – June 7

  • theme: drafting restoration and management plans
  • readings: 
    1. Hobbs et al. 2009. Novel Ecosystems: Implications for conservation and restoration. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24(11): 599-605.
    2. Donlan et al. 2006. Pleistocene Rewilding: An Optimistic Agenda for Twenty-First Century Conservation. The American Naturalist 168: 660-681
    3. Cabin, R.J. 2007. Science-Driven Restoration: A square grid on a round earth? Restoration Ecology 15(1): 1-7.

Day 8 – June 8

  • theme: drafting restoration and management plans