Transforming Ecological Science At Primarily Undergraduate Institutions Through Collaborative Networks

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Ecologists at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) are well positioned to form collaborative networks and make transformative contributions to the study and teaching of ecology. The spatial and temporal complexity of ecological phenomena rewards a collaborative research approach. A network of PUI ecologists can incorporate closely supervised data collection into undergraduate courses, thereby generating data across spatial gradients to answer crucial questions. These data can offer unprecedented insight into fine- and large-scale spatial processes for publications, resource management, and policy decisions. Undergraduate students benefit from the collaborative research experience as they gain experiential learning in team building, project design, implementation, data collection, and analysis. With appropriate funding, collaborative networks make excellent use of the intellectual and experiential capital of PUI faculty for the benefit of science, pedagogy, and society.