Video programming covers topics in the field of environmental science, including Earth science, ecosystem ecology, population biology, environmental issues such as pollution, sustainability and land use. Programming follows the national AP Environmental Science curriculum, although programs extend this curriculum to provide additional materials on topics relevant to college environmental courses.Below are synopses of videos available in the environmental science series. They are all open access.
This program investigates the layering of planet Earth and how the dynamics of the Earth’s interior drives the process of plate tectonics. It also explores how types of movement of Earth’s plates lead to earthquakes, which in turn can generate tsunamis.
This program continues the topic of plate tectonics by examining the volcanic activity that arises from it. It also considers the types of volcanoes that are recognized by geologists and the development of seismic waves along plate boundaries. It concludes by providing a preview of the next topic- seasonality.
This program investigates the latitudinal and altitudinal components to seasonality. It investigates as well the influence of the sun on seasonality and on the fate of incoming solar radiation. It then discusses the history and components of the Earth’s atmosphere as well as its vertical structure and the difference between weather and climate. It concludes by introducing the topic of atmospheric circulation.
This program begins by exploring the concepts of convection currents and the Coriolis force. It then characterizes the prevailing winds of the planet and relates them to patterns of ocean currents and then goes on to discuss the distribution of thermal energy via the ocean conveyer belt and ENSO. Its focus then changes to water resources, the hydrologic cycle and surface vs. ground water.
This program investigates global issues in water resource management, including aquifer depletion, desalinization and water conservation. It then changes focus to soil resources, and discusses the origin and evolution of soil via such processes as volcanic activity and erosion. It relates all these via a diagrammatic discussion of the rock cycle and concludes by reviewing soil particle sizes.
This program discusses the evolution of soil from parent material and the development of soil horizons. It further discusses how the biological environment interacts with mineral soil and the textural classification of soils and cation exchange capacity- the ability of soil to hold and give up nutrients needed by living organisms. It concludes by examining soil water holding capacity and the classification of soil types.
This program introduces the concepts of the ecosystem, community and ecological niche. The niche concept is examined in relation to how species may be assembled into communities. The effects of single and multiple environmental factors on community structure is also examined, as is the phenomenon of the species-area effect.
This program continues the investigation of community assembly by noting that similar physical environments yield similar biological communities. It then examines niche overlap and the occurrence of inter- and intra-specific competition in communities as well as the influence of environmental gradients and keystone species on community structure. It concludes by introducing the biome concept.
This program examines the principle features of the tundra, boreal forest, temperate seasonal forest and temperate grassland biomes. It reviews their characteristic flora and fauna, climatic regimes, limiting factors and global distribution.
This program continues discussion of temperate grasslands and also discusses the temperate and tropical rainforest biomes. It reviews their characteristic flora and fauna, climatic regimes, limiting factors and global distribution.
This program concludes discussion of tropical rainforests and its high elevation cousin- tropical cloud forest. It also discusses the tropical savannah biome and temperate savannah counterparts, as well as the shrubland (chaparral) and subtropical desert biomes. It reviews their characteristic flora and fauna, climatic regimes, limiting factors and global distribution.
This program examines alpine zonation: the altitudinal patterns of biome zonation found in mountains. It also explores the occurrence of relict communities- communities that remain even after surrounding biomes have shifted north following glacial times. It then begins discussion of freshwater aquatic biomes, including palustrine and lacustrine systems, as well as the vertical structure of lake ecosystems.
This program reviews marine biomes, including estuarine ecosystems. It explores the development of tidal wetland communities in these ecosystems and demonstrates how these communities vary from the tropics to boreal zones. It also discusses the vertical and horizontal zonation that occurs in marine environments, and concludes with a review of the global distribution of major biomes.
This program concludes the topic of biomes by examining the relationship of temperature and precipitation to biome occurrence. It also characterizes climatographs for particular biomes. It’s focus then turns to energy flow through ecosystems. After a review of photosynthesis it considers the principles of ecosystem thermodynamics and the concepts of productivity and trophic level.
This program explores the concept of the food chain and food web- concepts that relate to how energy flows through ecosystems. It also considers the efficiency with which energy is transferred between trophic levels and how it is that ecosystems compare in terms of primary productivity. It then changes its focus to the concept of ecosystem diversity and it explores geographic patterns that exist in diversity.
This program continues the examination of ecosystem diversity and investigates the classes of diversity that can be recognized. It then reviews methods for computing diversity, including Shannon’s and Simpson’s Index, and distinguishes the components of diversity- richness and evenness. It concludes by investigating the edge effect and species-area effect.
This program concludes discussion of the species-area effect by extending its implications to the study of island biogeography. These issues relate to the larger issue of landscape ecology- considering the geographical scale at which ecological phenomena are studied. It concludes by relating ecology to evolution through discussion of natural selection, mutation, fitness and genetic isolation.
This program continues the investigation of evolutionary ecology by exploring types of natural selection as well as the phenomena of ecological convergence and gigantism. It also examines the concepts of coevolution and r and k selection. It concludes by defining the principal classes of ecological succession.
This program investigates primary and secondary ecological succession and introduces the concepts of seral stage and climax community. It explores the evolution of communities by developing time lines of primary and secondary successional events.
This program concludes the topic of ecological succession by investigating mechanisms by which succession can be set back and investigating how historical change relates to ecosystem structure. It then reviews the major components of the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles in ecosystems.
This program introduces basic population biology terminology, including population structure, distribution and dynamics. It then explores population spacing and environmental influences on population distributions, and concludes by examining theoretical models of population dispersal. Under this heading, it describes the concept of metapopulations.
This program continues the investigation of population dispersal models. It explores the concept of source-sink dispersal, ideal free distributions and landscape models of dispersal. Its focus then shifts to population dynamics, and derives the exponential and logistic population growth models of population growth.
This program concludes the derivation of the logistic growth population model. It extends this model to one that accounts for competition between species: the Lotka-Volterra competition equations. It then moves to the topic of population age structure and considers age structure diagrams. It concludes by examining the concept of survivorship and the three main classes of survivorship curves.
This program introduces the concept of the life table and performs example life table calculations as well as example population growth calculations. It then considers the topic of density dependent and density independent population regulation as well as population cycles. It extends the concept of population cycles by examining predator-prey relationships.
This program considers how population size is estimated. It reviews the procedures and assumptions of capture-recapture methods, including the Lincoln-Peterson and Jolly-Seber methods. It then examines observation-based population estimation, including relative and absolute estimation. Methods reviewed included the Breeding Bird Survey, Audubon Christmas Count, fixed width transects, variable circular plots and the computation of detectability functions.
This program investigates populations of species that have become endangered with extinction. It explores the nature of critical habitat and recovery plans for endangered species. It also considers a historical perspective on endangerment and examines population viability analysis. It concludes by reviewing attempts made to resurrect extinct species.
This program considers the impact of invasive species on natural communities. It then considers human populations, including their growth rate, population momentum, population distributions, total fertility rate and demographic stages, including the demographic transition. It concludes by investigating the impacts of human population growth and the concept of sustainable population size.
This program begins an investigation of air quality by enumerating the major classes of air pollution. It reviews types of chemicals responsible for producing the greenhouse effect and acid rain, including nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides. It also considers the interaction of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in producing smog and the differential effects of stratospheric and tropospheric ozone on atmospheric quality. It considers the effects of ozone depletion on ultraviolet radiation as well as the effects of particulates on air quality.
This program continues investigation of the phenomenon of acid precipitation and its effects on lakes and boreal forests. It also considers the development of temperature inversions and classes of indoor air pollutants. It then explores the greenhouse effect and the causes and consequences of global warming, including sea level rise and global shifts in precipitation.
This program investigates mechanisms for cleaning pollutants from air, including the use of electrostatic precipitators. It then begins its principal theme- the major classes of water pollution. It explores the production of sewage, the presence of E. coli in sewage-contaminated water and the effect of sewage on biological oxygen demand. It then considers the phenomenon of eutrophication in and the effects of sediments on aquatic systems. It concludes by considering the effects of dissolved nutrients and organic chemicals on the aquatic environment.
This program examines the effects of radioactivity, thermal pollution and groundwater pollution of aquatic systems. It then investigates remediation efforts like types and levels of wastewater treatment. It considers as well the role of methane digesters and methane recovery in water purification as well as the functioning of septic systems. It concludes by reviewing the effects of clean water legislation on remediation efforts.
This program completes the topic of water purification before beginning its major topic of solid waste. It explores the layering and functioning of sanitary landfills and considers incineration and composting as means of waste reduction. It concludes by focusing on the classes of hazardous waste.
This program studies the acute and chronic effects of chemical contamination of the environment, including contamination with persistent pesticides. It also considers methods of hazardous waste cleanup, including bioremediation, and the designation of federal superfund sites. It continues with examination of environmental risk analysis, dose-response relationships and cost-benefit analysis of environmental cleanup activities.
This program considers the principal types of agriculture that are practiced. It investigates the rise of the Green Revolution over the past century and the role of genetic engineering in continuing the increasing productivity of agriculture. It then examines the principal classes of irrigation and the development of sustainable agricultural techniques.
This program continues the exploration of sustainable agriculture by examining procedures like crop rotation, composting and mulching. It then focuses on agricultural pests and disease and on sustainable approaches to dealing with them, including use of organic pesticides, companion planting, physical barriers and predator reservoirs.
This program examines forestry practices, including sustained yield practices. It also reviews the silvicultural practices of harvest, regeneration and tending, as well as the concepts of stand age and forest cover type.
This program continues examination of forestry practices by considering the characteristics of old growth systems and tree plantations. It then examines deforestation as a consequence of such practices as clearcutting, and it considers the effects of deforestation on ecosystems.
This program investigates the occurrence of fire as a component of forest ecosystems. It then focuses on public forest lands, on multiple use of such lands and on the designation of wilderness areas. It concludes by shifting to the topic of rangeland management. Under this heading, the use of fire as a management tool and the concept of range capacity are explored. It also considers how overuse of arid lands can lead to desertification.
This program explores the history of urban development, decline and redevelopment. It discusses the appearance of brownfields and also examines the history of urban planning. It also describes the evolution of urban sprawl, including the appearance of the megalopolis. It concludes by studying the effects of urban heat island and temperature inversions, and considers the rise of transportation networks.
This program defines the classes of public lands. It describes parks and wilderness areas as light use areas, whereas wildlife refuges are managed primarily for game. The major classes of wetlands, including palustrine, riverine and lacustrine wetlands are also reviewed, as are options for accomplishing land conservation.
This program begins by discussing environmental remediation through habitat restoration. It then reviews types of mining, including hydraulic fracturing, global mining reserves and the environmental impacts of mining. It concludes by discussing methods of fishing, aquaculture and overharvest of fisheries as well as globalization and shared global resources.
This program concludes the environmental science curriculum by examining shared resources, such as marine fisheries and water resources.