Biology 224W Ecology Spring 2001

Instructor: Dr. Michelle Briggs Office: Heim 134

Phone: 321-4190 E-mail:

Office hours: Monday 11:30-1:30, Wednesday 11:30-12:15, 1-1:30. If I'm not in my office, check the lab or the greenhouse! Feel free to ask questions before, during or after lectures. Also, feel free to stop by my office anytime; if I'm not there, leave a note. If you cannot make it to office hours, make an appointment!

Lecture: 10:15 - 11:05 in Heim G11; several Mondays we will have a brief period of informal writing at the beginning of class

Text: R. L. Smith and T. M. Smith (2001) Ecology and Field Biology, 6th edition. Benjamin Cummings, NY

Laboratory: 8:45 - 11:35 OR 1:00 - 3:50 Tuesday in Heim 135 (Plant Lab)

Dates to remember:

Mon, Jan 22 paper 1 draft due at beginning of class

Mon, Jan 29 comments on your assigned paper 1 draft returned to author; hand in peer-corrected drafts with your final paper

Fri, Feb 2 exam 1

Wed, Feb 7 final copy paper 1 AND first draft with comments due in lab

Tues, Feb 13 allelopathy methods and results lab write-up due

Fri, Feb 23 exam 2

Fri, Feb 23 special instructions for any Spring break experimental care

Tues, Mar 13 plant competition results and discussion lab write-up due

Tues, Mar 27 populations intro and results due

Fri, Mar 30 exam 3

Tues, Apr 10 mimicry write-up due

Grading scale (700 total possible points):


    A              92.5 - 100              647.5 - 700.0

    A-             90.0 - 92.4             630.0 - 647.4

    B+            87.5 - 89.9             612.5 - 629.9

    B              82.5 - 87.4             577.5 - 612.4

    B-             80.0 - 82.4             560.0 - 577.4

    C+            77.5 - 79.9             542.5 - 559.9

    C              72.5 - 77.4             507.5 - 542.4

    C-            70.0 - 72.4              490.0 - 507.4

    D+           67.5 - 69.9              472.5 - 489.9

    D            62.5 - 67.4              437.5 - 472.4

    D-           60.0 - 62.4              420.0 - 437.4

F below 59.9 below 419.9


A. 4 one hour lecture exams, 100 points each = 400 points

-- The three preliminary exams will be given during class. The fourth exam (NON-cumulative) will be given during finals' week. Review sessions will be set up before each exam. See front page for scheduled exam dates.

-- Material on the exams will be drawn from both the lecture and the reading. Exams consist mostly of essay and short answer questions, and will usually be set up to give you a choice of questions.

-- I do not give makeup exams. If you somehow manage to convince me that your world will end unless you take the exam at some other time, it will be an oral exam with no choice of questions.

-- Material on the exams will be a mixture taken from lecture and reading. Exams consist of about 10 different questions (consisting of essays, short answers, matching, true/false, multiple choice, etc.) that total about 150 points. You must answer some combination of questions to total 100 points.

-- What if you don't answer 100 points? The grade is computed out of the 100 point requirement.

- you answer 90 points, get 70 points correct... 70/100 = 70

- you answer 90 points, get 90 points correct... 90/100 = 90

-- Can you answer more than 100 points? Yes. BUT, 1) there are no bonus points and 2) if you do not

    know the material you are answering, it will be detrimental to your grade.

- you answer 100 points, get 100 points correct… 100/100 = 100

- you answer 110 points, get 110 points correct… 110/110 = 100

- you answer 110 points, get 100 points correct… 100/110 = 91

- you answer 150 points, get 100 points correct… 100/150 = 67

-- I do not grade the written lecture exams on a curve, nor have I ever needed to curve! Your ability to

pick the questions you want to answer is your curve.


B. Lab write-ups                                                                                            200 points

-- write scientifically! See below

-- 4 papers based on laboratory experiments

Feb 13 -- Allelopathy: methods and results (~3p)                                          30 points

Mar 13 -- Plant competition: results and discussion (~4p)                               35 points

Mar 27 -- Populations: intro and results (~4p)                                                35 points

Apr 17 -- Mimicry with squirrels and tannins: full scientific paper (~10 p)         100 points

-- although data will be collected with your group, your paper is to be written independently. However, I strongly suggest using the Writing Center and encourage peer reviews.



C. Writing Assessments 10 points

  • -- painless but necessary; see first and last labs
  • D. Paper = 90 points

    -- Ecology is a writing intensive course!

    -- One library research paper based on an area of ecology you find interesting. Paper should be double spaced, with one inch margins, and 5 pages long (1,250 words -- don't use the "larger fonts = fewer words" trick because if in doubt, I count). Anything less than 4.5 pages (~1,125 words) will have points deducted for brevity. Anything more than 1,500 words will have points deducted for long-windedness. Again, no "small fonts, small margins" tricks.

    Assigned Readings

    Some reading topics we will not cover, or only cover briefly in lecture. HOWEVER, this material can still be included on your exams. Lines indicate approximate endings of material covered in each section

    Topic Reading

    What is Ecology; approaches to ecological study? Chapter 1 (read 2-12)

    Effects of climate on forming ecoregions Chapter 2 (read 20-30 and 38-40)

    Ecosystems and primary productivity Chapter 24 (read 478-491)

    Biogeographical regions Chapter 27

    Saltwater ecosystems Chapter 31

    Freshwater ecosystems Chapter 30

    Forest ecosystems Chapter 29

    Grassland and desert ecosystems Chapter 28

    ***Rethinking the lawn VIIIA-D (starts after page 560)

    Succession Chapter 21 (read 404-416)

    ***Human Impacts on Biogeochemistry Chapter 26

    *** Global Environmental Change Chapter 32

    Secondary Productivity and Food Webs Chapter 24 (read 491-502)

    Biodiversity VIIA-D (starts after page 477)

    Moisture Chapter 7(read 104-112) and chapter 8 (read 137-140)

    Temperature Chapter 7 (read 98-104) and chapter 8 (read 127-137)

    Light Chapter 6 and chapter 8 (read 140-142)

    Nutrients Chapter 7 (112-118) and chapter 8 (120-126)

    Populations Chapters 10, 11

    ***Human Impacts on Populations Chapter 18

    Life History Chapter 13

    Intraspecific Competition Chapter 12

    Interspecific Competition Chapter 14

    Predation Chapter 15

    Plant-Herbivore Chapter 16 (read 284-293)

    Herbivore-Carnivore Chapter 16 (read 293-304)

    Parasitism Chapter 17 (read 306-321)

    Mutualism Chapter 17 (read 321-333)

    *** These readings will not be covered directly in lecture, HOWEVER they are critical for your increased environmental awareness, and will be on exams.


    For labs, I tried to pick a wide assortment of topics and organisms suitable for winter labs. Their order will not coincide with lecture topics! Order is based on specimen availability, best time for outdoor work, length of time needed for growth and data collection, etc. Obviously, outdoor ecology labs in winter are difficult (not to mention uncomfortable). In labs, we will start by discussing the problem, designing our experiments (put on your thinking caps), and setting up. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMING IN AT OTHER TIMES TO OBSERVE, MONITOR (e.g. do they need water?), AND COLLECT DATA.


    Lab Schedule

    date activity write-up

    Jan 9 set up groups; Writing assessment (5 pts); discuss allelopathy none

    Jan 16 Allelopathy experiment set-up methods and results due Feb 13

    Jan 23 Sampling, mark and recapture (lab) none

    Jan 30 estimating Rider Park deer populations from fecal pellets none

    Assuming we have some fresh snow!

    Feb 6 Set up plant competition; contents of methods and results results and discussion due Mar 13

    Feb 13 Distribution and density of plant pests none

    Outside, although some inside labs are possible

    Feb 20 Populations I see next lab

    Feb 27 no lab; spring break none

    Mar 6 Populations II: microbes in action; contents of discussion intro and results due Mar 27

    Mar 13 Mimicry with squirrels and tannins set-up full scientific paper due Apr 10

    Mar 20 contents of introduction see above

    Mar 27 Human Demography 1800's versus the 1900's none

    also combine mimicry data

    Apr 3 Foraging and Flocking -- an outside simulation none

    Apr 10 Seed dispersal and work on unfinished expt. none

    Apr 17 Writing assessment (5 pts); finish assignments none