Transforming ecological science at primarily undergraduate institutions through collaborative networks

David R. Bowne, Elizabethtown College
Amy L. Downing, Ohio Wesleyan University
Martha F. Hoopes, Mount Holyoke College
Kathleen Logiudice, Union College, Schenectady
Carolyn L. Thomas, Ferrum College
Laurel J. Anderson, Ohio Wesleyan University
Tracy B. Gartner, Carthage College
Daniel J. Hornbach, Macalester College
Karen Kuers, Sewanee: The University of the South
Jose Luis MacHado, Swarthmore College
Bob R. Pohlad, Ferrum College
Kathleen L. Shea, St. Olaf College


Ecologists at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) are well positioned to form collaborative networks and make transformative contributions to the study and teaching of ecology. The spatial and temporal complexity of ecological phenomena rewards a collaborative research approach. A network of PUI ecologists can incorporate closely supervised data collection into undergraduate courses, thereby generating data across spatial gradients to answer crucial questions. These data can offer unprecedented insight into fine-and large-scale spatial processes for publications, resource management, and policy decisions. Undergraduate students benefit from the collaborative research experience as they gain experiential learning in team building, project design, implementation, data collection, and analysis. With appropriate funding, collaborative networks make excellent use of the intellectual and experiential capital of PUI faculty for the benefit of science, pedagogy, and society. © 2011 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved.