The majority of this class will be held outside. Each week we will visit a different field site and spend the afternoon untangling the natural history of the landscape at that location. We will examine how plant and animal communities in western Massachusetts are shaped by processes such as geology, hydrology, weather, fire, and human land use. Students will be expected to learn skills in species identification and landscape interpretation. Class work will include a final group project as well as weekly assignments. We will meet in all weather conditions, and full participation and attendance at every class is mandatory. Students must be prepared to eat lunch in the field, must come with a sense of adventure, and must be eager to spend considerable time in forests and swamps.