Urban EcoLab consists of a series of modules that explore fundamental concepts in the study of urban ecology. The modules can be used in part or in whole, based on your larger instructional program.

Urban ecology is the study of cities as the interactions among biological, chemical, physical and human social forces. This branch of environmental science seeks to understand the natural systems of cities and the threats that face them. Urban ecologists study the trees, rivers, wildlife and open spaces found in cities to understand the extent of those resources and the pressures they face from human development.

The CURes Urban EcoLab Curriculum is available free of charge to all educators. We offer annual professional development workshops to teachers to support implementation of our Urban EcoLab high school curriculum.

In the following tabs are resources for educators to gain urban ecology background knowledge, information on Urban EcoLab's alignment with NGSS, and materials for each of the Modules.

Questions about Urban EcoLab can be sent to the Center for Urban Resilience at CURes@lmu.edu.


  • The following reference materials are meant to provide background knowledge for the following modules.

  • The following resources provide information on Urban EcoLab's alignment with NGSS Standards.

  • Module 1 introduces students to the study of ecology in an urban setting, to think about the components of the urban ecosystem and how urban systems continually change. Cities are complex systems that can be healthy or unhealthy. This module helps students start to think about the factors they can observe in order to determine the status of their city. Learn more.

  • Module 2 in the Urban EcoLab series presents information on modern, urban land use and best practices for creating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include biosocial drivers, sprawl, heat islands, social surveys, and urban planning. Learn more.

  • Module 3 introduces how carbon cycles on Earth, what happens when too much carbon is released into the atmosphere, and the effects of human's choices that result in increased carbon release. Students explore alternative choices and develop a public service announcement (PSA) to communicate what they've learned to others. Learn more.

  • Module 4 introduces the challenge of identifying, managing, and remediating garbage and hazardous waste. Students explore real case studies that have led to changes in local and global policy. Students then examine their field site to determine the extent of the issue locally, gather data, and create an action plan for addressing the cause of any found issues. Learn more. 

  • Module 5 introduces students to a public health perspective on their city, exploring the choices people make to exercise and eat healthy. Access to quality food, water and air, as well as infectious disease and the green space to either hinder or bolster one's health. Learn more.

  • Module 6 introduces students to the concept of biodiversity and ways to gather data about the status of an urban area. Students explore concepts through multi-media and hands-on simulations and then apply these ideas to their field site, resulting in an action plan to increase local biodiversity. Learn more. 


  • Module 7 introduces the use of bioacoustics to measure bird behavior and how these behaviors change under different anthropogenic conditions. Students develop their own experimental design and compare their results to other studies on bird behavior. The module concludes with students using their findings to create a visual message that can be shared with the greater community to encourage people to change their behaviors in order to increase bird biodiversity. Learn more.

  • Module 8 introduces students to the importance of trees and uses this as a model for students to develop their own plan for improving their community. Learn more.

  • Module 9 introduces students to the bond we have with our pets, namely dogs and uses this as a model for students to explore how dogs are viewed and the resources available for their well-being. Learn more.

  • Establishing a garden at a school site is a natural and innovative way to teach students about plants and the animals that pollinate them. Funded by grants from The Gottlieb Native Garden (GNG) and Edison International, the goal of this Module is to facilitate with students an exploration of garden types such as native and edible gardens, garden design, and the process of putting in a garden, including collaborating with community stakeholders. Learn more.
  • Module 11 was designed in collaboration with Dr. Heather Watts from Washington State University and was made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation (IOS: 1456954/1756976). Part I has a special focus on studying migratory behavior of Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus). Learn more.
  • Funded by the City of Long Beach, Module 12 - Part I, “Urban Coyotes”, provides students the opportunity to explore topics related to Coyotes (Canis latrans), including coyote ecology and resiliency, population dynamics, traits/adaptations/behavior, biodiversity, and wildlife management. Coyotes are a common topic in urban centers all across North America. As coyotes compete for resources including space and food, coyote sightings in urban areas are only going to increase. Learn more.
  • We are excited to announce the launch of the development of Module 13, which will be highlighting various bird species in the urban context. Funded by a Grant from the Gottlieb Native Garden (GNG), this Module will enable students to learn about and explore birds that live in or migrate through Southern California, including hummingbirds, osprey (and other Raptors), crows (and other Corvids), as well as bird topics such as natural and anthropogenic threats to the survival of birds, birds as bioindicators of ecosystem health, bird biodiversity, and bird classification, among others. Learn more.
    We also offer Live Bird Cams on our CURes YouTube channel! These are the first of their kind on the LMU campus, making them groundbreaking for research and education.