L807 Fall 2019 Extreme Environments: Adaptations and Survival
Tuesdays, 11:50–1:15, Sept. 24–Nov. 12
Instructor: Barbara Crain
Extreme environments are inhospitable to most life forms. But some organisms, including humans, have adapted to survive or even flourish in these harsh conditions. Where are these extreme environments? The high-altitude Andes, Arctic sea ice, high-pressure depths of the sea, and sunless caves are examples. These unforgiving conditions, considered hostile to normal life, provide many variable habitats which cause morphological, behavioral, and physiological adaptations of its lifeforms, be they people, animals, plants, or others. Many of these adaptations are paralleled in various other unrelated taxa of animals and plants. For example, how does the petroleum fly, the psilopa petrolei, manage to inhabit puddles of crude petroleum? How do people living in Tibet manage just fine with less oxygen? In this course we will explore many lifeforms, small and large, and their adjustments to extreme climates, conditions, and often difficult to digest food sources.
Barbara Crain holds an MA in geography from the University of Heidelberg, Germany and an MS in environmental science from Johns Hopkins University. She is an associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College and has always been fascinated with infectious diseases viewed through the geographic lens.