General Ecology--Biology 214
Fall 2013

Instructor: Dr. Jerry Skinner; Capwell Hall 211; 945-8404. email: 

Class Meetings: Lecture: M-F 9:30-10:45 am Capwell 108; Lab: Thursday 2:00-4:50 pm in Capwell 202.   Inclement weather meeting time:  Lecture:  11-11:45 am; Lab:  2:15-4:50 pm.

Molles Jr., Manuel. 2013 Ecology: Concepts and Applications, 6th edition. WCB/McGraw-Hill Publishers, Boston. 567 pp.  ISBN 9780073532493. Text website:  The 5th edition would probably be acceptable.

McMillan, Victoria E. 2012. Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences, 5th ed. Bedford Books, Boston. 241 pp.  ISBN-0-312-64971-5.  Earlier editions may be acceptable.

Course Webpage:

Course Objectives: Upon completion of this course, you will:
1) possess a basic understanding of general relationships between organisms and their environment;
2) posses the skills to perform standard field techniques;
3) improve your ability to read and write in acceptable scientific style; 
4) become intimately familiar with the current ecological literature, computer searches, indices, and electronic sources.
5) be able to apply all these skills in assessing and interpreting man's past and future impact on ecosystems.

Through laboratory assignments, you will write, write, WRITE! All lab exercises will require literature searches, proper citation of your sources in accepted scientific style, and analysis of data using computerized statistical programs. All assignments must be typed with NO grammatical or spelling errors.

Introduction: What is ecology? What do ecologists do?


Life on Land.  Biome Powerpoint Assignment
Life in Water
Population Genetics and Natural Selection
Temperature Relations
Water Relations
Energy and Nutrient Relations
Social Relations
Population Distribution and Abundance
Population Dynamics
Population Growth
Life Histories
Exploitation: Predation, Herbivory, Parasitism, and Disease 14  
Species Abundance and Diversity
Species Interactions and Community Structure
Primary Production and Energy Flow
Nutrient Cycling and Retention
Succession and Stability 20  
Landscape Ecology 21  
Geographic Ecology 22  
Global Ecology 23  

Note:  By the end of the semester, you should have read the entire textbook.  Occasionally you will be assigned readings outside of your textbook. These will be left on reserve in the library, or in some other readily available place.


Doing Science Optimal foraging by birds at a feeder
Map reading and construction Echolocation in bats
Basic statistics a biologist should know Heat budget of a lake
The optimal foraging game  Soils
Optimal foraging by mice Ecological debates
Riffle fishes and island biogeography Batesian mimicry
An intensive limnological study of an ecosystem Life tables of human populations
Dendrochronology Diet and space overlap of stream fishes
How does a robin look for worms? Mark and recapture techniques
Growth of duckweed populations Salamander habitat analysis
Vegetation analysis techniques Plants that depress other plants--allelopathy
Pollination ecology Effect of grazers on plant community structure
The effect of insect galls on the fitness of Canada Goldenrod Winter ecology studies--what do plants and animals do when it gets cold? (Pray for snow!)

ABOUT LABS: I have not made up a schedule of labs. There are more topics listed above than we can possibly do in one semester. Some are indoor activities and some are outdoors. Unfortunately, most of the outside ones deal with the more complex concepts that should come at the end of the semester when it will be too cold to be outdoors (or the organisms have been killed by frost or are hibernating). Therefore, the labs will probably not be current with lecture topics. Also, due to the vagaries of the weather, I will probably not decide about the week's lab until the day or two before. What this means to you is that we will not work in streams after a rain, or with insects when the temperature is in the 40's. Also, you should come to labs in field clothes--this means you should expect to get wet, dirty, sweaty, etc. Bring along a change of clothes, rain gear, etc. if necessary. Expect to go outside every lab. This doesn't mean that we will, but I don't want to see someone in a skirt, shorts or Foster-Grants on lab day. Labs will be handed out to you no later than the day before the lab. It is expected that you will have read it BEFORE you come to lab.

Grading Policy

3 Exams @100 pts 300
Lab Reports   300
Participation 50 pts per half semester 100
Total   700
A 93-100%
A- 90-92.99
B+ 87-89.99
B 83-86.99
B- 80-82.99
C+ 77-79.99
C 73-76.99
C- 70-72.99
D+ 67-69.99
D 60-66.99
F <60.00

Attendance and due dates: Just as you expect professionalism from me, so do I expect it from you.  Therefore, your presence is expected at EVERY lecture and lab. You will notice that attendance is not included in the grading scale. You do not gain points by carrying out your responsibility in showing up. There will be no makeup tests without a verifiable excuse of a very serious nature. Any makeup will be at my convenience and will be an oral test. Late assignments will not be accepted for any reason. Assignments are due AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS on the due date. If they come in after that time, they are late and will not be accepted.

The Fine Print:

Keystone College does not discriminate in any of its programs on the basis of disability. While there is not a deadline for the disclosure of a disability by a student, in order to facilitate the documentation and accommodation processes, students are encouraged to voluntarily and confidentially disclose and disability requiring an accommodation prior to the beginning of class. This disclosure should be made to the College Counselor & Coordinator of Disability Services.  Students who disclose a disability, and who are seeking an accommodation, ultimately will be expected to provide documentation verifying the disability.

Academic Honesty – Division of Natural Science and Mathematics
All students are subject to the College's policy and procedure on academic dishonesty;  see the current Keystone College catalog. 
The Natural Science and Mathematics Division recognizes that any form or degree of academic dishonesty challenges the principles of truth and honesty which are among the most important founding principles of science and mathematics discovery.  Keystone College treats academic dishonesty as a serious violation of academic trust.  It penalizes all students found to have engaged in such behavior.
Academic honesty within the College and the Natural Science and Mathematics Division must be a cooperative enterprise of faculty, students and administrators. Acts of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to the following:

  1. The illegitimate use of study materials or electronic devices in any form during a quiz or examination.
  2. Copying answers from the quiz or examination paper of another student.
  3. Plagiarizing or falsifying materials or information used in the completion of any assignment which is graded or evaluated as the student's individual effort. Plagiarism includes submitting as one's own the ideas or work of another, including the laboratory data, written materials or the computer files of another, regardless of whether that information is used verbatim or in paraphrased form.  The same applies to anything derived from the Internet, including research papers purchased online. 
  4. Obtaining, through theft, bribery, or collusion, or otherwise improperly securing an examination paper prior to the time and date for the administration of the examination. Also, use of an examination paper previously administered (e.g., during an earlier term) without the consent of the instructor who authored the examination.
  5. Impersonating a candidate at an examination or availing oneself of such an impersonation in any traditional or online class. 
  6. Intentionally interfering with any person's scholastic work, for example, by damaging or stealing laboratory experiments, computer data files or library materials.
  7. It is presumed that material submitted by a student for an assignment is original to that assignment and, therefore, submitting the same work for more than one course without the consent of the instructors of each course in which the work is submitted is considered dishonest.  Submission of previously graded work from prior assignments is considered dishonest. 
  8. Aiding or abetting any act of academic dishonesty including but not limited to such offenses as described above.

Any student caught cheating, or using someone’s work as their own, will be reported to the Academic Dean of the College.  A grade of zero will be recorded for that assignment/test/quiz. For more information on dishonest acts including plagiarism, cheating, and fraud, consult your Student Information Guide.

Keystone College states that all official student email correspondence be sent only to a student’s Keystone email address and that faculty and staff consider email from students official only if it originates from a Keystone account. This allows the College to maintain a high degree of confidence in the identity of all individuals and the security of transmitted information.  Keystone College furnishes each student with a free email account that is to be used in all communication with College personnel

The College has set deadlines for withdrawing from courses. These dates and times are published in the course catalog and on the Academic Calendar. It is the student's responsibility to handle withdrawal requirements from any class. The proper paperwork must be completed to ensure that you will not receive a final grade of "F" in a course if you choose not to attend once you are enrolled. If you are considering withdrawing from a class, consult your Advisor and refer to the College Catalog.

An “I” (Incomplete) will only be given under extenuating circumstances.  It will not be given to students who simply fail to do the work or miss an exam.  If an “I” is given, students must complete the work within four weeks into the following semester, or receive a grade of “F” for the course.

Allelopathy write-up:  An example of excellent scientific writing!