General Ecology (BIOL-27100)Fall 2013


Instructor:  Leann Kanda:  Lecture and Labs   

MWF 10-10:50, CNS 115


Office:  CNS 159   
Labs: Tuesday or Wedensday 1:00-3:50 p.m., CNS 212
274- 3986

Course Website: Sakai; check for updated materials and assignments
Office hours: Mondays 11 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Thursdays 10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

or stop by any time


Sarah Casola (

Required Text:  Elements of Ecology, 8th edition, Smith, T. H. and Smith, R. L. 2012; Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, Inc

Course readings: We will periodically have additional readings from the primary literature.  These will be made available through Sakai.

Other materials:

            3x5 index cards:  For in-class quizzes in lecture.

            3-ring binder: Strongly recommended for organizing lab materials.

SimBio Ecobeaker Laboratories: We will be using two computer simulation laboratory assignments; these cost $10, payed directly to SimBio through online purchasing.  The link and instructions on how to access the laboratories will be given to you later in the term.

Catalog Course Description:

General Ecology presents the basic concepts of ecology with balanced treatment of plant and animal examples. Topics include the interactions among individuals of a population, interactions in their abiotic environment, and interactions with other species. Also discussed are growth, regulation, diversity, and stability of populations, and the interactions among populations at the community and ecosystems levels. Laboratories include field and laboratory work and statistical analyses of data. Lecture: Three hours. Laboratory: Three hours. Prerequisites: BIOL 12000 or BIOL 12200. 4 credits. 


Learning Objectives:

This course has been designed to present you with an introduction to current ecological theories and practices. You will be introduced to the subject of ecology by examining various types of ecological questions, theories and models. The Biology Department has identified six Student Learning Objectives to be mastered by students in our majors. The Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences has outlined similar objectives.  I expect students completing this course will:

1.  demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts of biology, specifically questions, theories, practices, and models pertaining to:

               biogeography, including local and global distribution and abundance 

               physiological ecology, including adaptations and range limitations

               behavioral ecology, including study of foraging, migration, and sociality

               population ecology, including processes underlying population dynamics

               community ecology, including succession, disturbance, competition,

                               predatory-prey dynamics, diversity, and productivity

               ecosystem ecology, including nutrient cycling and ecosystem services

               global ecology, including biomes and climate

      &      conservation biology, including anthropogenic effects, conservation, and sustainability 

      {ESS objective: demonstrate advanced scientific literacy as it relates to the environment}

2.  demonstrate an understanding of the application of biological concepts to everyday life, specifically in the context of the present functioning and interaction of ecological systems with the human species.

3.  articulate connections among biological concepts at various levels (e.g. molecular, cellular, organismal, ecological) as well as between biology and other natural sciences, specifically the connections between organismal. ecological, and evolutionary processes.

      {ESS objective: demonstrate mastery of integrative and systems thinking approaches to environmental issues}

4.  critically analyze biological information, including analysis of the effectiveness of methods, the meaning of observational and experimental data, and the appropriateness of conclusions, specifically using case studies that have shaped modern ecological thinking, becoming familiar with how people have developed and tested theories, including the role and interpretation of ecological modeling. 

5.  carry out scientific investigations to answer questions about the natural world,

      specifically learning how to design and conduct field research for testing ecological hypotheses, including gaining acquaintance with local flora and fauna, using basic ecological methodologies, and gaining competency in data management, analysis, and presentation.

6.  effectively communicate scientific works in both oral and written form, specifically formulating class research into formal laboratory reports. {ESS objectives: demonstrate competency in written, oral and technical communication, especially to a variety of audiences}



Students are expected to attend all lectures with the exception of health emergencies, religious holidays, court appearances, or college-authorized extracurricular events.
This is an interactive class; participation is very important, especially in lab.  Unexcused absences from lecture will impact your grade on exams.  In-class unannounced quizzes or exercises that carry points cannot be made up. You should notify me as soon as possible by phone or email of any anticipated absences.  Written documentation that indicates the reason for being absent may be required.  Exam attendance is mandatory. An examination missed during an unexcused absence will result in a failing grade for that exam. Make-up exams will be given only in special situations and must be approved prior to the regularly scheduled exam time. Written documentation may be required. 


Laboratory attendance is mandatory.  You may attend the other lab section if needed, if you inform me in advance.  An unexcused laboratory absence penalizes your final laboratory grade by 5%.




Your grade will be based on:

            Points Summary                                                        Grading Scale

Conserv. Phys. Paper








Isle Royale Modeling








Keystone Pred Modeling








InClass Questions








Exam I








Exam II








Exam III (in 2 parts)






< 60%










Final Exam


















Laboratory will be based upon:







Wetland Biodiversity


Population Growth








Yellowstone Project





Due dates:

All assignments are due at the appointed day and time.  Homeworks and lab assignments will be accepted late (with penalty), until/unless a key is made available.  5% of the total possible points will be removed from the grade for every 24 hours late (i.e. 1-24 hours late = 5% off, 24-48 hours late = 10% off, etc.).  Weekend days count the same as weekdays.


There will be no extra-credit assignments in this course.


Course Evaluation:

Student input is highly valued and is important to maintain high quality instruction.  As a department, we have moved to online course evaluations.  At the end of the term, you will be provided with the website link.  I receive the anonymized feedback after final grades are complete. 


Academic Conduct: Familiarize yourself with the college's policies on academic conduct

(  Please make yourself familiar with plagiarism as it is defined in the Student Handbook.  Plagiarism is not tolerated by the professional world or by myself.  Unattributed ideas or quotes are plagiarism, as is close paraphrasing even if the idea is given citation.  If you are unsure how to proceed with synthesizing ideas into your work, please see me and we'll talk through the example.  Plagiarism and other cases of academic dishonesty will result in both a zero for that work and notice to Judicial Affairs.


Exam Preparation:

This is a challenging course, and I encourage you to review material early and often.  Exam concepts will draw primarily from the lecture material.  Prioritization of the material should be straightforward: if I emphasize it in lecture and it is reiterated in your text, it is probably a major concept.    



College is an extremely stressful time, with both academic and personal struggles.  Please remember that help is always available.  Among other resources, Ithaca College provides a Counseling Center to support the academic success of students. The Counseling Center provides cost-free services to help you manage personal challenges that threaten your well-being.

Students with Disabilities: 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 the Office of Academic Support Services (322A Smiddy Hall; 274-1005, TDD - 274-7319).

and provide appropriate documentation to the college before any academic adjustment will be provided.  It is the responsibility of the student to initiate any request for accommodation in the course; Academic Support Services does NOT notify faculty unless the student requests it for that course.  I am happy to make accommodations, but I cannot make them after the fact or without prior notice.  



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Page maintained and updated by Nancy Pierce.
Last updated September 2013