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|Description - |
|An introduction to ecology, natural history and field biology through the study, largely in an outdoor setting, of the plants and animals of the San Francisco Bay area.|
|Course Objectives - |
|The student will be able to: |
- master basic techniques of field biology, including taking field notes, identifying organisms in the field, using survey and sampling techniques, and having familiarity with non disruptive collection techniques.
- describe and apply the scientific method and explain its uses and limitations as it pertains to ecology and field biology.
- explain basic principles of biology which directly relate to work in the field, including especially evolution, systematics, and biological energetics.
- explain basic principles of organismal, population, community and ecosystem ecology.
- describe the important climatic and geological features of California, and their biological significance.
- appreciate the special physical features which affect life in marine environments, and the unique diversity of ocean communities.
- practice basic plant taxonomy, including the use of taxonomic keys; describe the commonest plant communities in the Bay Area; and identify their most prominent members.
- appreciate the special evolutionary and ecological importance of the arthropods, and especially the insects.
- discuss the evolutionary history of the four classes of terrestrial vertebrates, and describe the natural history of some of their more prominent Bay Area representatives.
- discuss selected conservation issues in the San Francisco Bay area.
|Special Facilities and/or Equipment - |
|Fully equipped biology laboratory, lecture room, and computer facilities. |
Students need internet access.
|Course Content (Body of knowledge) - |
- Basic field biology
- Format and techniques for taking field notes
- Frequent field trips to diverse localities to practice field identification
- Non-disruptive collection techniques
- Implementing survey and sampling techniques
- Scientific method
- Components of the scientific method
- Application and limitations in ecology and field biology
- Implementation of scientific method during lab exercises
- Basic principles of biology
- Evolution: Charles Darwin and the concept of natural selection
- Evolution: Microevolutionary processes
- Systematics: Principles and importance of biological classification
- Systematics: Taxonomic categories, the Five Kingdom system, and current Domains and Kingdoms
- Biological energetics: Laws of Thermodynamics as applied to living things
- Biological energetics: Photosynthesis and aerobic respiration
- Basic ecology
- Organismal ecology
- Population ecology
- Characteristics of populations
- Population dynamics
- Community ecology
- Ecosystem ecology
- Energy flow through ecosystems
- Matter re-cycling in ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles
- California as a Biological Province
- Basic geology of California
- The climate of California
- Biodiversity of California in relation to global patterns
- The concept of endemism
- The Ocean and the Bay
- Physical factors in marine ecosystems--pressure, light, salinity, etc.
- Diversity of animals in the ocean
- Diversity of producers in the ocean
- Bay Area Plant Communities
- Basic plant taxonomy
- Common plant divisions and families
- The taxonomy and biology of flowering plants
- Bay Area plant communities
- The use of taxonomic keys in plant identification
- The Insect and Other Arthropods
- Characteristics and taxonomy of the Phylum
- Characteristics and taxonomy of the Class Insecta
- Natural history of insects
- Ecological and evolutionary importance of insects
- The Terrestrial Vertebrates
- Evolution and natural history of amphibians, emphasizing California species
- Evolution and natural history of reptiles, emphasizing California species
- Evolution and natural history of birds, emphasizing California species
- Evolution and natural history of mammals, emphasizing California species
- Current, local conservation issues
- An issue of the instructor's choice relevant to plants/vegetation
- An issue of the instructor's choice relevant to animals
- An issue of the instructor's choice relevant to the marine environment
|Methods of Evaluation - |
|Grading on basis of mid-term exams, lab quizzes and/or exams, field note-book, special projects and/or reports. |
|Representative Text(s) - |
|Smith, R.L. and T. M. Smith. Elements of Ecology, 6th edition. San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings, 2006. |
Recommended supplemental texts and references:
Jameson, E.W., Jr., and H.J. Peeters. Mammals of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004.
Ornduff, R., P.M. Faber, and T. Keeler-Wolf. Introduction to California Plant Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003.
Schoenherr, A.A. A Natural History of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992. (latest edition available)
Sibley, D. A. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. Knopf Publishing, 2003. (most recent edition available)
|Disciplines - |
|Biology or related field |
|Method of Instruction - |
|Lecture, Field work, Oral presentations, Laboratory, Field trips, |
|Lab Content - |
|Laboratory activities include exercises that |
- illustrate and employ the scientific method.
- Maintain a field notebook.
- Use of taxonomic keys.
- Demonstration of collection techniques including plant presses, preservatives, nets, and animal traps.
- students work together to collect aquatic invertebrates and physical and chemical characteristics of local water bodies
- Implementation of non-destructive sampling and survey techniques for both animals and plants (e.g. transects, plots).
- groups of students will create transects to measure diversity in different ecosystems and then analyze the collected data for comparison with other groups
- Examination of representatives from the current taxonomic domains and kingdoms, including microscopic organisms.
- Use of the microscope.
- Field trip(s) to examine local geology.
- exploration of trophic relationships and ecosystem energetics
- Learning basic plant morphology and identification to family.
- Introduction to bird identification and field marks.
- Exploration of 6 different ecosystems in the San Francisco Bay Area including but not limited to Coastal Redwood forest, Oak savanna, Bay Marshland, Coastal estuary, tide pools, and serpentine grasslands.
|Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments - |
- Students maintain a field journal with descriptions of ecosystems visited.
- Students write field reports reflecting upon one field site as a representative of an ecosystem and what the ecosystem dynamics are within the site.
- Students write and present a report on one California native species.