The course intent is to emphasize how natural populations, communities and ecosystems are connected so that we can start to understand how human activities influence these connections and their impact on us. Thus the class will consider “The Environment” from an ecological perspective with a strongly human focus. Controversies over resource use and the conservation of threatened species will also be considered along with debates about human population growth and the development and use of varied biotechnologies such as “genetic engineering.”
As our environmental awareness grows we need a discipline that we can use to organize large amounts of apparently contradictory environmental messages from scientists, legislators, industry, and the general public. This is why ecology is used in this course as the central discipline with which we can collect, rationalize and evaluate much of this information.
It is useful to examine how organisms interact “naturally” within “natural” environments and then learn how these interactions change after disruption by humans. We can compare environments with or without our species, Homo sapiens, and appreciate just how important ecology really is toward an understanding that is considerably more profound than highly publicized environmental, or “green” activities performed in the name of “ecology.” Modern ideas of how biotechnology, agriculture, and conservation might help to solve environmental problems will be considered along with the ethics and realities of dealing with disrupted ecologies and burgeoning human populations.
Course material will be taken from a wide range of sources and there is no single course textbook. Thus it is very important that you attend lectures and read the assigned material!
Student performance will be evaluated as indicated below with cumulative points from three exams evenly spaced through the course plus a final exam. In addition, there will be a research exercise, some practical assignments and several opportunities to accumulate bonus points in response to topical issues as specified during the class.
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions at any time - during class; during office hours; or at any other time - there is no such thing as a silly question as long as the intent is constructive!
Class times and location:
The course meets with 2 lecture classes each week, in room 1106 Wood Hall, at 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Final course grades will be based on the sum of:
(a) Three exams given during the semester at 100 points each
(b) Two computer assignments at 50 points each
(c) Research symposium exercise at 200 points
(d) Final exam at 200 points
(e) up to 30 bonus points can also be awarded for specified activities.
3, one-hour exams at 100 points each 300
2 computer assignments 100
1 research symposium exercise 200
1 two-hour final exam 200
A = >90% BA = >85%
B = >80% CB = >75%
C = >70% DC = >65%
D = >60% E = <60%
Cheating, fabrication and plagiarism will result in a score of zero for the relevant activity and will be treated as described under “Student Rights and Responsibilities” on pages 274-278 of the 2003-2005 Undergraduate Catalog.
You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Catalog (pp. 274-276) that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.
Selected bibliography for information sources referenced in this course:
Begon, M., Harper, J.L., and Townsend, C.R. 1996. Ecology: Individuals, Populations and Communities. 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1068 pages.
Berreby, D. 1990. The numbers game. Discover April 1990: 43-49.
Brewer, R. 1994. The Science of Ecology. 2nd edition. Fort Worth, Saunders College Publishing, 790 pages.
Bush, Mark, B. 2002. Ecology of a Changing Planet. 3rd edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc., 498 pages.
Hardin, G. 1968. The tragedy of the commons. Science 162: 1243-1248
Miller, G.T.Jr. 2002. Living in the Environment. Principles, Connections, and Solutions. 12th edition. Belmont: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning Publishing Company, 758 pages.
Raven, P.H., and Berg, L.R. 2001. Environment. 3rd edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 612 pages.