Readings in Ecology

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Biology 5307.001 – Readings in Ecology – Conservation Biology Syllabus

Fall 2011 : TR 11:00 – 12:15 WSB 107


Instructor: Dr. Chris M. Ritzi

                  Office: Warnock Science Building - 216

                  Phone: 837- 8420


                  Office hours: MW 9:00-10:30, T 2:00-5:00, or appt.


Class Website: &


Text:  Groom et al. 2006.  Principles of Conservation Biology.  Sinauer Associates.  You will also be responsible for acquiring supplemental materials and articles from Blackboard.


Course Description:  In this course we will read and discuss a variety of papers and topics that helped to shape our current understanding of conservation ecology.  The goal for each week is to understand what theory or idea is being presented at the time, and how it affects ideas, policy, and beliefs in conservation.  It is everyone’s responsibility to read for each week, and to be prepared to discuss the topics.  While no one will be designated the “moderator” each week, plan on providing a detailed discussion about each topic.  Discussions are meant to be insightful and intelligent, as well as passionate and from the heart.

Program Learning Outcomes

The biology student graduating with a MS in Biology should be able to:

1)                  Demonstrate competence in the area of evolution through natural selection.

2)                  Demonstrate successful application of the scientific method in the investigation of a biological topic or issue.

3)                  Demonstrate competence in the application of taxonomy.

4)                  Identify the significant events and people in the development of the biological sciences.

Student Learning Objectives for this Course:

1)                  Demonstrate and understanding of evolution in how it relates to conservation


2)         Compare and contrast the differences in land management practices.

3)         Identify the primary threats to conservation, and propose suggested solutions.

4)         Identify the facts that shape ones environmental focus.


Tests: There will not be any tests throughout the course, as such.  Instead, the course will be graded on participation, preparedness, and the presentation of a class project toward the end of term.  The project is to be a 20-30 minute presentation about the conservation issue of your choice (animal, plant, ecosystem, behaviour, etc.). The only exam will be a final essay exam over the core concepts covered in this course.




Grading: You will be assessed 300 points based on your participation and preparedness for each week’s class, as well as 100 points on your presentation.  The presentation grade will be determined by myself and your peers (in part).  The Final Exam will be a 100 pt essay exam.


Attendance: Students missing 20% of lectures (6 class periods) shall be dropped from the class with an F per the SRSU catalog.  Please notify your instructor BEFORE missing class for authorized activities, death in the family, or illness. 


Lecture courtesy:  The general rules of classroom etiquette are below.

1)                  This is a graduate class, so feel free to talk about the material as a group.  This doesn’t mean you should talk about other things for the hour.

2)                  No eating, chewing, dipping, etc. (unless it is a brown bag session)

3)                  Please turn cell phones and pagers to silent while in class.  They are disruptive to the entire class, and detract from learning.


Students with disabilities will be provided reasonable accommodations.  If you would like to request such accommodations because of physical, mental, or learning disability, please contact the ADA Coordinator for Program Accessibility at 837-8203, FH 112.


Tentative Lecture Outline

Date                            Lecture topic                                                              Chapter


Aug 25                                    Introduction                                                                Ch 1

Aug 30                                    What is Conservation Biology?                                  Ch 1

Sept 1                          Global Biodiversity                                                     Ch 2

Sept 6                          Threats to Biodiversity                                               Ch 3

Sept 8                          Discussion on Biodiversity                                         Ch 3

Sept 13                        Conservation Values and Ethics                                 Ch 4

Sept 15                        Discussion of Values and Ethics                                Ch 4

Sept 20                        Habitat Degradation                                                   Ch 6

Sept 22                        Habitat Fragmentation                                                Ch 7

Sept 27                        Discussion over Habitat Change                                 Ch 6&7

Sept 29                        Overexploitation                                                         Ch 8

Oct 4                           Discussion on Overexploitation                                  Ch 8

Oct 6                           Invasive Species                                                          Ch 9

Oct 11                         Discussion on Invasive Species                                  Ch 9

Oct 13                         Climate Change                                                          Ch 10

Oct 18                         Discussion on Climate Change                                   Ch 10

Oct 20                         Conservation Genetics                                                Ch 11

Oct 25                         Discussion on Conservation Genetics                         Ch 11

Oct 27                         Species and Landscape Approach                              Ch 12

Nov 1                          Ecosystem Approach to Conservation                        Ch 13

Nov 3                          Discussion on Approaches                                          Ch 12&13

Nov 8                          Protected Areas                                                         Ch 14

Nov 10                                    Discussion on Protected Areas                                   Ch 14

Nov 15                                    Restoration                                                                  Ch 15

Nov 17                                    Discussion on Restoration                                          Ch 15

Nov 22-24                   Nov 21-25 – Thanksgiving Holidays – No Class 

Nov 29                                   Prep for classroom presentations

Dec 1                           Student presentations                                                

Dec 6                           Student presentations                                               

Dec 8                           Student presentations                                                

Dec 13 - 10:15am        Final Exam for TR 11:00-12:15                                                      


Note – This outline is subject to change for reasons of course interest, time constraint, or instructor whim.  The exams will be administered on the dates given, unless material relevant for a given exam has not been covered.  Under such cases, an exam may be moved a class period or two to aid in the clarity and understanding of the material.



Students with disabilities will be provided reasonable accommodations.  If you would like to request such accommodations because of physical, mental, or learning disability, please contact the ADA Coordinator for Program Accessibility at 837-8178, UC 211.


Reading Assignments

No posting readings due to space and the sheer volume of material we are reading, please check your email for pdf's.





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