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Landscape ecology class flies in hot air balloon to learn about habitat complexities

June 24, 2014–To get his landscape ecology students to appreciate the full scope of the complexities of landscapes in the real world and not just through images on their computer screens, the University of Delaware’s Jeff Buler ended the year on a high note, taking his students up in a hot air balloon.

The trip was partially an homage to the Frenchman Felix Tournachon, also known as Nadar, who took the first aerial photograph from a hot air balloon in 1858 that helped inspire the field of landscape ecology.

The goal of the trip was to see firsthand landscape elements, such as habitat patches and corridors, and to be able to delineate how energy flows through ecosystems, such as water through a watershed.

Students were also able to see natural disturbances, geologic features, how humans shape a landscape and the lineages between habitats and ecosystems. 

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