Fall and Spring
Credit: 3 graduate 
Instructor(s): Yuriko Yano

Course Description

This course focuses on the principles of biological and non-biological processes in the soil ecosystem with a greater emphasis on biological processes. The overarching objective is for the students to gain process-based understanding of soil’s function and role within our environment. The course will cover the fundamentals of nutrient and carbon cycling in soil, as well as special topics including effects of human activities and disturbance on soil and ecosystem function.

Meeting Place and Times

Participants login to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend at least 8 - 10 hours per week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 3 credit graduate course


Yuriko Yano, Ph.D

Dr. Yano’s research focuses on biogeochemical linkages across vegetation, water, and soil with an emphasis on carbon and nitrogen cycling. Dr. Yano has experience working in many different ecosystems, including temperate deciduous forests, subalpine coniferous forests, tropical rain forests, arctic tundra, and urban settings. 

Target Audience

Students in the M.S. in LRES online degree program, as well as working professionals who want to increase their knowledge in the topic, such as federal agency employees, environmental consultants, non-governmental organization employees, and others interested in remote sensing and environmental science.

Time Commitment:

8-10 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

See the Online Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid page.

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • Principles of Terrestrial Ecology
    Author(s): F Stuart Chapin III, Pamela Matson, Peter Vitousek, MC Chapin
    Publisher: Springer; 2nd ed. 2012 edition (September 1, 2011)
    ISBN 13:978-1441995032
    ISBN 10:144199503X
    Price: approximately $150 (new)
    Misc. info: Used paperback approximately $106
    This book can be purchased or rented with various online retailers

Optional Books/Materials:

  • Soil Microbiology, Ecology and Biochemistry
    Author(s): Eldor A. Paul
    Publisher: Academic Press, 4th Edition, 2015
    ISBN 13:978-0128099926
    ISBN 10:0128099925
    Price: approximately $86 (new) plus shipping and handling
    Misc. info:
    This book can be purchased or rented with various online retailers
  • Principles and Applications of Soil Microbiology
    Author(s): David M. Sylvia, Jeffry J. Fuhrmann, Peter G. Hartel, David A. Zuberer
    Publisher: Prentice Hall; 2 edition (July 29, 2004)
    ISBN 13: 978-0130941176
    ISBN 10: 0130941174
    Price: Used approximately $193 plus shipping and handling
    Misc. info: New approximately $300
    This book can be purchased or rented with various online retailers

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

For course information: Please contact Marni Rolston 406-994-2029

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.