Conservation Biology- BIOL 21200
Fall 2012


Instructor: Dr. Anne Stork
Office:  Administrative Annex 119
Office Phone:  274-3575 
Office Hours:  email me to set up an appointment

Course Description:  Currently, we are experiencing an unprecedented loss in species number and are probably in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. This extinction event is unlike past mass extinction events in that humans are largely responsible for such species loss.  In this course, we will investigate how we can apply biological principles to reverse the trends in species loss that we are currently experiencing. We will focus on case studies to develop our understanding of what maintains, reduces, and restores biodiversity on this planet.

In addition, we will examine local conservation efforts around Ithaca, NY by working with the staff of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, the Community Science Institute, and the Ithaca College Natural Lands.


Student Learning Objectives:


Students will:

·         Review current topics in conservation biology, including status and trends, case studies, and theories in a multidisciplinary setting;

·         Understand root causes of the conservation crisis using principles of genetics, ecology, biogeography, and evolutionary biology;

·         Study linkages between the conservation crisis and philosophical, economic, social, and political perspectives;

·         Discuss problems and synthesize solutions in an objective manner, based on scientific training;

·         Research, present, and write concise but descriptive summaries of conservation issues.



Text:  Kays, J. et al. 2006. The Woods in Your Backyard. Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service. Ithaca, NY.


Carson, R. 1962. Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, MA.


Additional readings, including all course materials, will be posted on Sakai.


Grading:  Reading/homework assignments 49 %: There will be frequent reading/homework assignments/presentations due on Sakai to help everyone prepare for our class discussions. If the assignment isn’t submitted to SK before our class discussion, then you will only receive 50% credit for the assignment. If you submit the assignment and miss class due to an unexcused absence, you will only receive 50% credit.


Laboratory assignments- 25%:  We will have assignments to prepare for our laboratories and to synthesize what we have learned from the lab. If the assignment isn’t submitted to SK before our lab, then you will only receive 50% credit for the assignment. If you miss lab due to an unexcused absence, you will not receive any credit for lab assignments related to that lab.


Take home essay exams 16%: There will be mid-term and final take  home essay (8% each)exams that you can work on collaboratively, but you will turn in individually.


Final project 10%: You will tackle a problem that interests you in conservation biology. You will present your findings to the class during the last lab period and the final exam.


Attendance: This is an interactive class and your participation is critical to the success of the entire class.  You are expected to attend every class, and get to every class session on time. If you miss class due to an excused absence, you are still responsible for material presented during class.


Plagiarism: Please review the College’s definition of plagiarism is it appears in the Student Handbook.  I will report all plagiarism offenders to Judicial Affairs. In a collaborative project, all students in a group may be held responsible for academic misconduct if they engage in plagiarism or are aware of plagiarism by others in their group and fail to report it. Students who participate in a collaborative project in which plagiarism has occurred will not be held accountable if they were not knowledgeable of the plagiarism.


Accommodations: Every effort will be made to accommodate special needs of students. Please consult the Student Handbook for procedures and policies regarding accommodations.


"In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with Student Disability Services and provide appropriate documentation to Ithaca College before any academic adjustment will be provided."

Conservation Biology Fall 2012

This schedule is for planning purposes and is subject to change. All assignments are due to SAKAI  BEFORE class/lab starts



Reading Assignments

What’s due by 10:30 am day of class

WED Lab Topic

What’s due by lab

8/30 Th


Order Silent Spring for Sept 27!




9/4 Tu

What is conservation biology?


Chapter 1

Hardin, G. 1968. The tragedy of the commons. Science 162:1243-1248.


Silent Spring Chapters 1-2

HW 1 What is CB.

Field trip with ICNL stewards.


Lab 1 Assignment


What is stilt grass?

-And visit

9/6 Th

Conservation biology in action

“Value and Advocacy in Conservation Biology: Crisis Discipline or Discipline in Crisis?”


“Optimism and Hope in a Hotter Time” 


Visit the journal Conservation Biology through the IC library's website or in person


Silent Spring Chapters 3-4

HW 2 CB  in action.



9/11 Tu

Conservation ethics

Leopold, A. 1949. The Land Ethic. The Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press, New York.

Jacobson, S. K. and M. D. McDuff. 1998. Training idiot savants: the lack of human dimensions in conservation biology. Conservation Biology 12(2):263-267.


Silent Spring Chapters 5-6

HW 3 Conservation ethics .


Stream monitoring with CSI

Lab 2 Assignment

Stream monitoring PDFs


9/13 Th

What is biological diversity and why should we value it?

Last name A-O  Chapter 2- What is biodiversity?


Last name P-Z  Chapter 3 Where is the World’s Biodiversity Found


Silent Spring Chapters 7-8

HW 4 Biodiversity .



9/18  Tu

Where is biodiversity found?



Chapters 4 and 5 



Silent Spring Chapters 9-10


HW 5 Biodiversity continued .



Constructed wetlands- Beaver Dams, NY  with Jim Curatola

Results section of stream

monitoring data due.

9/20 Th

Economics and conservation




Costanza, R. et al. 1997. The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387:253-260.


Lant, C.L. et al. 2008. The Tragedy of Ecosystem Services. BioScience 58:969-974.


Maguire, L. and J. Justis. 2008. Why intrinsic value is a poor basis for conservation decisions. BioScience 58:910-911.


Pimm, S. 1991. The value of everything. Nature 387: 231-232.


Silent Spring Chapters 11-12

HW 6 Economics and conserva-tion .






Rachel Carson and her impact on Conservation Biology

Silent Spring Chapters 13-17


Smith, M. (2008). "Silence, Miss Carson!": Science, Gender, and the Reception of Silent Spring. In Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge. Albany: State University Of New York Press.

Silent Spring assignment due.

Treman Marina Park bird diversity trip with John Confer


9/27  Th

Conservation Biology through the eyes of Sandra Steingraber

Steingraber, S. (2008). Living downstream from Silent Spring. In Rachel Carson legacy and challenge. Albany: State University Of New York Press.


Maguire, S. (2008). Contested Icons: Rachel Carson and DDT. In Rachel Carson legacy and challenge. Albany: State University Of New York Press.





HW 7 .






10/2 Tu

Protecting Biodiversity


Leann Kanda- protecting amphibian diversity in Tompkins County


HW 8



Forest Management Plan- Danby


Lab 5 Assignment Due

Read “The Woods in Your Backyard”

10/4 Th

Habitat Destruction

Roemer GW and RK Wayne. 2003. Conservation in conflict: the tale of two endangered species. Conservation Biology. 17(5): 1251-1260.


HW 9




10/9 Tu

Invasive Species


Mooney, H.A. and E.E. Cleland. 2001. The evolutionary impact of invasive species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98:5446-5451.


Mack, N. R. 2000. Assessing the extent, status, and dynamism of plant invasions: Current and

emerging approaches. In: Invasive Species in a Changing World, ed. by H. A Mooney, Island Press, Washington, DC. Pp. 141-170.

HW 10


Restoration ecology field trip with Jeremy Waddell, Tom Markel- mitigated wetlands - Flat Iron road monitoring with SRC.


Continue with stream monitoring

Lab 6 Assignment Due:


Read Mitsch, W. et al.

Creating Wetlands: Primary

Succession, Water Quality

Changes, and Self-Design

over 15 Years. BioScience

62: 237-250.


10/11 Th

Biodiversity- Golden-Wing Warblers


McLeish, T. 2007. “Golden-Winged Warbler.” Golden Wings and Hairy Toes. University Press of New England. Hanover, NH.


Confer, J., Barnes, K., & Alvey, E.. (2010). GOLDEN- AND BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS: DISTRIBUTION, NESTING SUCCESS, AND GENETIC DIFFERENCES IN TWO HABITATS. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 122(2), 273-278. (on Blackboard- Confer golden warblers)

HW 11




10/16 Tu

Extinction- How bad is it?

Scott, J.M., C.P. Kepler, C. van Riper III, and S.I. Fefer. 1988. Conservation of Hawaii's vanishing avifauna. BioScience 38(4):238-253.


Chapter 7


Blackburn, T.M., et al. 2004. Avian extinction and mammalian introductions on oceanic islands. Science 305:1955-1958.

HW 12



Work with Jason Finger Lakes Land Trust

Read FLLT website

10/18 Th

Fall Break





10/23 Tu


Chapter 7


Regnier, C. et al. 2009. Not knowing, not recording, not listing: Numerous unnoticed mollusk extinctions. Conservation Biology. Vol. 23, No. 5, 1214-1221.


Jackson, J. 2008. Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean. PNAS  105 (Supplement 1) 11458-11465.


Wake. D. and V. T. Vredenburg. 2008. Are we in the midst of the sixth mass extinction? A view from the world of amphibians. PNAS  105 (Supplement 1) 11466-11473.


Sax, D. and S. D. Gaines. 2008. Species invasions and extinction: The future of native biodiversity on islands. PNAS  105 (Supplement 1) 11490-11497.

Answers to discussion questions.


Forest Management Plan- Danby

Forest Management Plan

Progress Report Due


10/25 Th


Extinction paper presentations continued.  


Follow instructions for the 2-3 page, double-spaced, piece in a form to be used in a point/counterpoint article in TIME magazine.



10/30 Tu

The problems with small populations

John Confer guest lecture.

Chapter 11

Answers to discussion questions.


Biodiversity Preserve with Betsy Darlington?

Read management plan for

Biodiversity Preserve

11/1 Th

Conservation Genetics


Read: The restoration of gray wolves in Yellowstone Park: 

Conservation Genetics


Find this article through IC’s library website:

Forbes, S. H., and D. K. Boyd. 1997.  Genetic structure and migration in native and reintroduced Rocky Mountain wolf populations. Conservation Biology 11:1226-1234. 

Answers to discussion questions.




11/6 Tu

Multiple threats to biodiversity

Pounds, J.A.  et al. 2006. Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature. 439:161-167.


Answers to discussion questions.


Stream Monitoring

Forest Management Plan DUe

11/8 Th

Global Climate Change


McCarty, J. 2001. Ecological consequences of recent climate change. Conservation Biology. 15: 320-331.



Brooke, C. 2008. Conservation and adaptation to climate change. Conservation Biology. 22:1471- 1476.

Answers to discussion questions.






Fens as refugia from climate change

Guest Speaker- Patrick Raney



Jane Goodall video and

Sea Turtle Reserve Planning


11/15 Th

Long Term research Projects in Cons Bio

 Pusey, A. E. et al. 2007. The Contribution of Long-Term Research at Gombe National Park to Chimpanzee Conservation. Conservation Biology. 21: 623-634.


Answers to discussion questions.




11/20 Tu






11/22 Th







11/27 Tu

Species approach to conservation

Roe, D. 2008. Trading Nature.

A report, with case studies, on the contribution of wildlife

trade management to sustainable livelihoods and the

Millennium Development Goals. TRAFFIC International

and WWF International.


Answers to discussion questions.


Island Biogeography Laboratory (see handout & National Park Service Park Area and Biodiversity  )


11/29 Th

Species and landscape approaches to conservation.

Caughley, G. 1994. Directions in conservation biology.  Journal of Animal Ecology 63: 215-244.


Clark, T. W., N. Mazur, S. J. Cork, S. Dovers, and R. Harding. 2000. Koala conservation policy process: appraisal and recommendations. Conservation Biology. 14:681-690.

Answers to discussion questions.




12/4 Tu

Landscape approaches to conservation

Pressey, P., Bottrill, M. 2009. Approaches to landscape and seascape-scale conservation planning: convergence, contrasts, and challenges. Oryx. 43:464475.


Answers to discussion questions.


Stream monitoring continued


12/6 Th

Ecosystem approaches to conservation

Naeem, S., et al. 1994. Declining biodiversity can alter performance of ecosystems. Nature 368:734-737.


Raffaelli, D. 2004. How extinction patterns affect ecosystems. Science 306:1141-1142.


Chan, K. et al. 2006. Conservation Planning for Ecosystem Services. PLoS Biology 4: 2138-2152.

   Answers to discussion questions.






11 Tu


Stem, C.J. et al. 2003. Community Participation in Ecotourism Benefits: The Link to Conservation Practices and Perspectives. Society and Natural Resources 16: 387–413.


Answers to discussion questions

Project Presenta-tions


12/13 Th

Review for take home final





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Last updated 10/2012