AE22 Environmental Microbiology of North Carolina's Natural Places

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Thursday September 8

2:30 PM  –  3:30 PM

Environmental Microbiology of North Carolina's Natural Places

ONLINE | Two Sessions: Thursdays, September 8 & 15, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Instructor: April Smith

$55 Adult Non-member** (**Arboretum Members receive a 10% discount on all classes. Become an Arboretum Member!)

BRN - Elective: SPECIAL TOPICS OR PLANT STUDIES | NCEE - Criteria III eligible


As we explore North Carolina’s natural habitats, most often we turn to the things we see around us to inspire us and to help explain the world before us: a babbling brook, a beautifully peaceful forest, or a bird’s nest with new hatchlings. It is all too easy to forget that the things we can’t see have real impact. Environmental microbiology is the study of microbes in the environment and their actions are responsible for numerous aspects of life on Earth. Think for a moment what happens when a tree falls and begins to break down. What about the tall reeds in the small pond behind your house - what happens when they die? Why does the mud in a salt marsh smell so bad? These actions are all the result of different types of microorganisms working together to do incredibly important, and often complicated, jobs. In this two-part class we will talk about different types of natural habitats in North Carolina where microbes play important roles in cycling carbon and nutrients throughout ecosystems in order to maintain balance and keep those systems healthy. We will focus on the base of food webs, aerobic vs anaerobic habitats, and even touch on the differences in microbial activities in saltwater vs freshwater habitats.


April C. Smith is the president of In Situ Explorers, a science education non-profit. She is a former environmental researcher who now enjoys sharing the wonders of science and nature with others. Through her non-profit work, April is an author and editor of "Thirty Great North Carolina Science Adventures," published by UNC Press in 2020, and is now the curator of the North Carolina Science Trail, a new digital resource that maps and highlights science education venues across the state.


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