Biology 103

BIOL 103
Environmental Biology

1. Catalog Entry

BIOL 103
Environmental Biology

Credit hours (4) Three hours lecture; two hours laboratory
For any student who is not a Biology major. An introduction to how the natural world works and of the scientific methods used to study the natural world. Emphasis is on the study of ecology and the process and products of evolution. Applications are made to the importance of biological diversity, and the impact of humans on the natural world and the methods used to understand and ameliorate such impacts. BIOL 103 is not a prerequisite for upper level study in Biology. Biology majors should take BIOL 131. Students who are not Biology majors but need to take upper level Biology courses should take BIOL 105. This course has been approved for credit in the Natural Sciences Area of the Core Curriculum.

2. Detailed Description of Course

Evolution and adaptations of organisms to their environment.  Interactions of organisms with each other and with their environment.  Communities and ecosystems.  Human impacts on the environment.

Depending on the interests of the instructor and the students, specific topics may include, but are not limited to:
    1) Speciation
    2) Evolution of life on earth
    3) Methods of classification
    4) Overview of major taxa
    5) Biodiversity
    6) Habitat destruction (fragmentation)
    7) Extinction
     8) Rare and endangered species
    9) Endangered Species protection    
    10) Invasive species              
     11)Nutrient and hydrologic cycles
    12)Food webs and energy flow
    13)Ecosystem Services
    14)Resource depletion (tragedy of the commons)    
    16)National Forests and National Parks
    17)Environmental protection
    18)Local and regional environmental issues

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will be taught in the class/laboratory format, where “class” may include any combination of lecture, discussion, group work, or online classwork, as determined by the instructor.

Readings may include textbooks and other sources.

Laboratories will emphasize skills, which may include, but are not limited to observing systematically, asking questions that can be answered with observation or experiment, designing experiments based on those questions, collecting data systematically, data analysis and presentation, and drawing appropriate conclusions.

Students may be required to plan, perform, and report on experiments.  They may engage in debates and discussions of controversies in environmental biology.

Whenever possible, students will practice using basic mathematics and statistics, including graphing appropriately and measuring accurately with the metric system.

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students will understand the methodologies of scientific inquiry, think critically about scientific problems, and apply principles of a scientific discipline to solve problems in the natural/physical world.

Students will be able to:
    1) Distinguish between findings that are based upon empirical data and those that are not.
    2) Apply scientific principles within the context of a specific scientific discipline to solve real world problems.

5.    Assessment Measures

Assessment measures will vary with the instructor, but will generally include lecture and laboratory exams and a final exam. Continuing assessment may involve quizzes, class projects, laboratory reports and take-home exams. Students may be asked to do outside research and prepare written or oral presentations applying what they have learned. Students may be asked to argue, orally or in writing, for a particular position in areas where there is disagreement. Students may be asked to develop laboratory projects and may present the projects and results in poster or oral presentations.
    1) Student understanding of the empirical nature of science will be assessed through targeted exam questions.
       Their understanding may also be assessed through the quality of their lab reports and lab project
    2) Student ability to apply scientific methods and to use scientific problem-solving may be assessed by observing
       the development of their laboratory projects, assessing their project presentations, and assessing their arguments
       in presenting scientific disagreements.

6. Other Course Information

Depending on enrollment, multiple instructors may teach the course in a given semester. They will coordinate laboratory exercises.

Review and Approval

March 2009

June 20, 2015