Course Syllabus

FISH/ESRM 447: Watershed Ecology & Management


Note: FISH/ESRM 447 is the "lecture only" part of the course.  FISH/ESRM 448A is the optional lab component of the course and require previous or concurrent enrollment in FSH 447.  

Course Description
This course is an investigation of stream and river ecosystems from a watershed perspective.  Our emphasis will be on learning the fundamental processes affecting the structure and function of flowing aquatic ecosystems.  Multiple theoretical concepts of riverine ecosystems will be evaluated and used to underpin our examination.  Specific topics will include river/stream hydrology, geomorphology, biogeochemical cycles, food webs, and global change.   While the course will initially focus on “natural” ecosystems, we will also use case studies to explore human interactions with rivers and approaches to river management.

Meeting Times
Lecture will be held Tuesday and Thursday 10:00a-11:20a in Fishery Sciences Bldg. (FSH) 107.

Gordon Holtgrieve, Asst. Professor, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Office: FSH 316B
Office hours:  Wednesdays 10:30a - 12N (except 1st week)

Teaching Assistant
Rebekah (Beka) Stiling, graduate student, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Office:  FSH 317B
Office hours:  Thursdays 11:30a-1:30p

Learning Objectives
Students will develop a broad understanding of the ecology of streams/rivers and their catchments at local to global scales, with a particular emphasis on the Pacific Northwest.  Specifically, at the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate through short answer and multiple choice testing a comprehensive understanding of the basic physical, chemical and biological processes that control the structure and function of healthy riverine ecosystems. Primary source of information will be in-class lecture and discussions, supplemented with additional readings.
  2. Identify, contrast, and synthesize competing scientific views of watershed ecosystem theory in writing based on reading of assigned primary literature supplemented with small group discussions.
  3. Produce a written, in-depth analysis that synthesizes, differentiates, and critiques the current state of science for a specific scientific topic within watershed ecology based on well researched and cited primary literature.
  4. Apply concepts from this course to case studies to evaluate current watershed management practices in achieving stated goals for conservation and human uses. Evaluation will be through short essay exercises.

Required Reading
Course handouts, lectures, and the primary literature will be the dominant source of information.  There is no required textbook but students may find it useful to look at a copy of “River Ecology and Management: Lessons from the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion” 1998 edited by Naiman and Bilby.

Evaluation & Grading
Three (3) graded credits based on the following scheme:


Percent of final grade

Due Date

Problem Set


 23 Apr @ 11:59pm

Midterm exam


 26 Apr, 10:00-11:20 in FSH 107

Short review of current

“controversies” in the field 


 12 May @ 11:59pm

Term Paper


 31 May @ 11:59pm

Final exam


 4 June, 10:30-12:20 in FSH 107

Academic Integrity
Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of the University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478‐120) and your personal contract as a student.  I expect that you will know and follow the university’s policies on cheating and plagiarism.  Please review the College of the Environment website on academic integrity so that you are clear on what constitutes academic misconduct.  Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University of Washington regulations.  For more information, see the College of the Environment Academic Misconduct Policy and the University of Washington Community Standards and Student Conduct website.  Be advised that as an instructor at the UW, I have the responsibility to notify University Conduct committees about any suspected student misconduct.

Late Assignment & Re-grade Policy
As a matter of policy, late assignments will not be accepted unless you have received approval from the instructor (me) well in advance of the due date or the circumstances are truly beyond your control.  At a minimum, this is at least 24 hours before the due date.  I have full discretion over whether to accept a late assignment and you should assume the default to be they will not be accepted.
If you feel an assignment has been graded inappropriately, submit to me over email within one week of the receiving the graded assignment a brief description of why you feel the grade does not accurately reflect the quality of the work along with the original graded assignment.  Note that we will likely re-grade the entire assignment, not just the part in question.  You can expect to have the re-grade results within one week of submission (or a notification that it may take longer).  If you are unsatisfied with the result of the re-grade you have the option to submit a written appeal to the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Director.  Please review the College of Environment Grade Appeal Process website for more information.

Email & Computer Use
All students are expected to have a working email address and you will receive email relevant to this course on a regular basis.  Students are also expected to regularly check the course Announcements for updates relevant to the course.  You are encouraged to reach out to your instructor and TA for help.  In general, you can expect emails sent to instructors between 12a and 3p will be responded to the same day.  Do not expect instructors to read or respond to emails sent after 6p until the following day nor should you expect responses over the weekend. 
Writing assignments must be turned in via Canvas as either a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or as a .pdf.  Problem sets and data analysis exercises will be turned in online as either Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, or as readable photos (if done by hand).

Disability Accommodations
It is crucial that all students in this class have access to the full range of learning experiences.  At the University of Washington, it is the policy and practice to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.  Full participation in this course requires: 1) the ability to attend two 90 minute lectures per week with 50 other students; 2) participation in small group discussions on topics relevant to the course, and 3) making short presentations that synthesize small group discussions and/or results of specific analyses to the class orally. 
If you anticipate or experience barriers to your learning or full participation in this course based on a physical, learning, or mental health disability, please immediately contact the instructor to discuss possible accommodation(s).  A more complete description of the disability policy of the College of the Environment can be found here. If you have, or think you have, a temporary or permanent disability that impacts your participation in any course, please also contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) at:  206-543-8924 (V), 206-543-8925 (TDD),, 

2018 Course Schedule


Course Summary:

Date Details