Biology 131

BIOL 131

Catalog Entry

Biology 131. Ecology and Adaptation (4)
Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory

A study of the distribution, abundance, and diversity of organisms in nature.  The laboratory component will teach basic laboratory skills while enhancing students' ability to conduct field sampling, observational studies, and experiments.  This is the first course in a four-course sequence intended for biology, medical technology, and other science majors.  This core sequence serves as a foundation and prerequisite for further study in biology.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

    Physiological Ecology

        Adaptations to physiological stress in plants and animals, natural selection

        Energy/water/nutrient/temperature regulation in plants and animals

        Plant and animal sensory systems

        Behavioral mediation of physiological stress


        Proximate vs. ultimate causes

        Sociobiology and social behavior

        Evolution of behavior, interaction of genes and environment


        Population Ecology

                Simple population models

                Methods of population estimation

                Life history and demography

        Community Ecology

                Species interactions (Predation, Mutualism, Competition, Parasitism, etc.)

                Food webs

        Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology

                Major biomes and climate

                Nutrient/water/energy cycling

                Introduction to GIS

        Conservation Biology

                Major threats to biodiversity

                Habitat fragmentation, edge effects, reserve design

                Restoration, preservation, sustainability

    Evolution of Life's Diversity

        Species concepts

        Classification of organisms: basics of systematics and phylogeny


                Adaptive radiation, modes of speciation, global patterns of species diversity



Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will be taught in classroom and laboratory sessions.  Classroom work will be a combination of lecture, discussion, group work, team learning, and case studies as determined by the instructor, in coordination with the instructors for the other core courses.  Basic skills in critical reading, writing, and quantitative biology will be emphasized.  Students will be expected to read beyond their textbooks, write original critical/synthetic documents, and use mathematical/statistical/graphical approaches to understand data.

The laboratory meetings will be coordinated with the other courses in the core sequence to provide the students with the skills to design experiments/field studies to test hypotheses and to report their results in the style typical of the biological literature.  This course will also teach students the following basic scientific skills:

    • Weighing, measuring liquids, making solutions.

    • Measuring environmental parameters (pH, dissolved oxygen, etc.)

    • Identification of organisms, using dichotomous keys.

    • Measuring abundance and distribution of organisms in the field.

    • Quantifying animal behavior.

    • Measuring physiological functions of whole organisms.

    • Designing experimental or observational protocol.

    • Data recording, management, documentation.

    • Using the metric system.

    • Graphical analysis of data.


Goals and Objectives of Course

Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

    • Make meaningful natural history observations in the field.

    • Estimate the abundance of organisms in the field.

    • Describe the mechanisms of natural selection and macroevolution.

    • Explain the principles of biogeography.

    • Use simple population/demography models to make quantitative predictions.

    • Describe the array of ways that species interact.

    • Use a dichotomous key to identify an organism.

    • Describe the three domains and their relationships to each other.

    • Accurately weigh samples, accurately measure liquids.

    • Calculate concentrations and prepare solutions.

    • Measure some environmental chemical parameters (pH, dissolved oxygen, soil moisture, etc.).

    • Record, manage, document, graph and analyze data.

    • Design experimental or observational protocol.


Assessment Measures

Reading and writing skills will be assessed through class discussions and written assignments (i.e. review papers, position papers).  Knowledge of specific course content will be assessed with quizzes, tests, and/or lab practical exams.  Quantitative skills will be assessed in lab assignments, quizzes and tests.


Other Course Information



Approval and Approval

New Course October 22, 2007