Introduction to Ecology, BI 271, Lecture B

Homepage and syllabus for Introduction to Ecology, BI 271, Lecture B

BI 271, TBA Credits, Fall 2017

Ecology is the study of the spatial and temporal patterns of the distribution and abundance of organisms, including causes and consequences. Studying these patterns provides us with the scientific foundation for understanding natural processes and environmental problems. This course will examine ecological interactions at a wide range of scales from the molecular level, through individuals, populations, communities, ecosystems, and ultimately to the biosphere. We will study how these interactions produce the patterns and processes we observe around the world. In the field-based laboratory we will learn to generate testable ecological hypotheses, develop experimental designs to test our hypotheses, and use statistical inference to quantiatively assess the outcome of our experiments, while gaining first-hand familiarity with local ecological communities.

Professor information

Dr. Christopher M. Moore
Office: TBA
Office phone: TBA
Calendar: TBA

Meeting dates, times, and location

MWF, 9—9:50 AM, TBA


Ecology, 3rd ed., 2013, by Michael L. Cain, William D. Bowman, and Sally D. Hacker, published by Sinauer Associates, Inc.
(Note that the 4th ed. published by Oxford University Press in 2017 will suffice)

Learning Goals for Ecology

A. Learn the vocabulary and conceptual framework for the science of ecology.
B. Mature in ability to assess scientific literature, with a special emphasis on data interpretation.
C. Apply concepts and principles to topical ecological issues having implications for policy or management.
D. Gain direct experience with generating hypotheses, developing experimental designs and applying statistical analyses to ecological data.
E. Gain first-hand familiarity with local ecological communities.

Concepts to be addressed in a general ecology lecture syllabus

IntroductionDefinitions, scientific method, graphing, data interpretation
BiogeographyClimate, biomes, island-biogeography, species-area relationships
Evolutionary ecologyEvolution, adaptation, life history
Population ecologyPopulation growth and regulation, demography, metapopulations, stochasticity
Species interactionsMutualism, competition, predator-prey, host-parasite
Community ecologyCommunity structure, food webs, community metrics, succession, metacommunities
Ecosystem ecologyEnergy flow, decomposition, primary and secondary production
Nutrient cyclesGlobal nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon cycles, human influences, land-atmosphere-ocean interactions



Lecture, 65%

ItemPercentage of coursePercentate of lecture (rounded)
Assessment I18%28%
Assessment II22%34%
Assessment III25%38%

Laboratory, 35%

ItemPercentage of coursePercentage of laboratory (rounded)
Practical I12.5%36%
Practical II12.5%36%

Lecture schedule (1 introduction, 32 lectures, 3 reviews, 3 assesments)

19/6WCourse introductionCourse introduction 
29/8FAutecologyThe domain of ecology 
39/11M Evolution 
49/13W Evolutionary ecology 
59/15F The ecological niche 
69/18M Physiological ecology: animals 
79/20W Physiological ecology: plants 
89/22F Behavior: individual (e.g., foraging, communiation) and group (e.g., mating, sociality) 
99/25M Spatial distributions (e.g., Habitat selection, dispersal, geographic range) 
109/27W Phenotypic plasticity 
119/29F Life history 
1210/2M Assessment I review 
1310/4W Assessment I 
1410/6FPopulation ecologyPopulation growth 
1510/9M Population limitation 
1610/11W Stage and age structured populations 
1710/13F Metapopulations 
 10/16M Fall recess (no class) 
1810/18W Deterministic and stochastic dynamics 
1910/20F Mutualism 
2010/23M Competition 
2110/25W Predator-prey 
2210/27F Plant-herbivore/host-parasite 
2310/30M Ecological epidemiology 
2411/1W Coevolution 
2511/3F Assessment II review 
2611/6M Assessment II 
2711/8WCommunities and ecosystemsBiodiversity (evolution, measurements, concepts, biogeography) 
2811/10F Community statics (e.g., measurement, definitions) 
2911/13M Community dynamics: assembly (e.g., niche, neutral) 
3011/15W Community dynamics: metacommunities 
3111/17F Macroecology 
3211/20M Trophic ecology (including food webs, top-down and bottom-up regulation) 
 11/22W Thanksgiving recess (no class) 
 11/24F Thanksgiving recess (no class) 
3311/27M Energy flows 
3411/29W Carbon cycling 
3512/1F Nitrogen cycling 
3612/4M Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning 
3712/6W Ecology in the Anthropocene 
3812/8F Assessment III review 
39TBA  Assessment III