Post-Baccalaureate Certificate:
Environmental GIS - 2009/2010


Admission and Academic Requirements

Biology Department Chairperson: Richard V. Anderson
Biology Graduate Committee Chairperson: Timothy Spier
Biology Department Office: 372 Waggoner Hall
Biology Department Telephone: (309) 298-1546
Biology Department E-mail:
Biology Department website:

Geography Department Chairperson: Samuel Thompson
Geography Graduate Committee Chairperson: Samuel Thompson
Geography Department Office: Tillman Hall 313
Geography Department Telephone: (309) 298-1648
Geography Department E-mail:
Geography Department website:

Program Description

This interdisciplinary, skill based program is designed to provide students with an understanding of how environmental data is collected, what is being reported, and how to analyze what is reported.  It provides training in basic concepts at all levels of ecology from populations to landscapes and the interaction between the physical and biotic environment.  The course will focus on the applications of the geographic information system (GIS) to analyze and interpret ecological data.  GIS is the leading technique used in ecosystem analysis since it provides a method of integrating the physical and topographic information in a landscape with characteristics of the biotic components of the environment.  It provides a method of interpreting spatial information in relation to land use.  Thus it forms a template for management and restoration decisions which increase the probability of more effective land use and success in environmental restoration efforts.

In the environmental field today there are few jobs beyond the technician level that do not require a background in GIS.  Thus employees in areas of urban planning, industrial or urban facility and site development, agricultural management, resource development, environmental consulting companies, landscaping companies, state and federal agencies (for example Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service) all require their mid-level employees be familiar with the use and application of GIS to their particular missions.  On-line programs and workshops in GIS focus on the mechanics of the use of GIS software.  This program integrates training in GIS with training in the ecological techniques used to collect environmental data used interpretively by GIS.  Thus students in this program will be better qualified to use ecological information and GIS technology for effective planning land use and restoration.  Examples might include floodplain and mine land reclamation, wetland and drainage restoration, energy development such as wind-farms, natural disaster recovery programs in both urban and ecological preserves, and natural lands management. 

Requirements for Enrollment

Students who want the certificate must meet admission requirements.  Non-degree students must meet the admission requirements for the Graduate School; degree students must meet the admission requirements for their degree program. Students admitted to the program should have a degree in biology, geography or a related field.

Certificate Requirements

I. Core courses: 12 s.h.

GEOG/BIOL 426G Conservation and Management of Natural Resources (3) or BIOL/GEOG 459G Biogeography (3)
BIOL 584 Advanced Ecological Techniques (3)
GEOG 508 GIS and Cartographic Design (3)
GEOG 509 Fundamentals of GIS Analysis (3)

II. Select two courses (one from Biology and one from Geography) from the
following: 6 s.h.


BIOL 452G Biological Applications of GIS (3)
BOT 451G Plant Ecology (3)
ZOOL 451G Animal Ecology (3)


GEOG 403G Remote Sensing (3)
GEOG 510 Environmental Impact Analysis (3)

Total: 18 s.h.

Course Descriptions

452G Biological Applications of GIS. (3) This course deals with biological problems examined using data acquisition and analytical methods from geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS). Prerequisites: BOT 200, ZOOL 200, GEOG 308, or permission of the instructor.

459G (cross-listed with GEOG 459G) Biogeography. (3) Study of the geographical distributions of organisms, the evolutionary and ecological processes underlying the patterns of distribution, and the role of biogeography in biological conservation. Prerequisites: BOT 200, ZOOL 200, or permission of the instructor.

584 Advanced Ecological Techniques. (3) This course provides instruction on the applications of techniques and analytical methods to the evaluation and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic communities, including data analysis specific to those techniques. Includes field experience. Prerequisite: BIOL 350 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

451G Plant Ecology. (3) Relationships of plants to their environment, community ecology and the use of quantitative methods to determine distribution. Field trip estimate: $25. Prerequisites: BOT 200, ZOOL 200, and BOT 210 or 410; graduate standing in biology.

403G Remote Sensing. (3) Principles of remote sensing with particular reference to interpretative applications in the earth sciences, agronomy, conservation, forestry, archaeology, and anthropology. Analysis of radar, infrared, near infrared, and visible light imagery. Laboratory. Prerequisites: GEOG 120 and 121; or GEOL 110 and 112; or a lab sequence in biology or physics; or permission of the instructor.

510 Environmental Impact Analysis. (3) An examination and application of methodologies and techniques in assessing physical, economic, and social effects of development. Prerequisite: GEOG 405 or permission of the instructor.

426G (cross-listed with BIOL 426G) Conservation and Management of Natural Resources. (3) Problems in the conservation and management of natural resources, including soil, water, rangeland, forest, wildlife, air, and energy resources. Special attention to resource problems of the United States. Prerequisites: Two courses in geography or permission of the instructor.

508 GIS and Cartographic Design. (3) An introduction to basic cartographic principles and the application of geographic information system (GIS) tools. Students will learn theory and techniques that will be applied to project(s) associated to their discipline.

509 Fundamentals of GIS Analysis. (3) An introduction to geographic information system (GIS) analysis tools. Students will learn theory and techniques that will be applied to project(s) associated to their discipline. Prerequisite: GEOG 508.

451G Animal Ecology. (3) Relationships of animals in their environment. Prerequisites: BOT 200 and ZOOL 200; graduate standing in biology.