Conservation Biology- BIOL 20400-01
Spring 2009

 Tuesday / Thursday 10:50 - 12:05
CNS 117

Instructor: Dr. Anne Stork
Office:  CNS 156
Office Phone:  274-3575 
Office Hours:  call or email me and we can set up an appointment


Text: Groom, M. J. and Gary K. Meffe and C. Ronald Carroll and contributors. 2006. Principles of Conservation Biology, 3rd Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA.

Additional readings will be posted on our Blackboard site in the readings folder. Please contact me ASAP if you cannot access the readings.


Currently, we are experiencing an unprecedented loss in species number and are most likely  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.

 The course will be organized into three sections that mirror the organization of our text and include: “foundations of conservation biology, threats to biodiversity, and approaches to solving conservation problems.” Throughout the semester we will examine local conservation efforts, both around Ithaca, NY and project efforts in your hometowns. We will then extrapolate what we’ve learned from these projects to analyze conservation efforts in projects around the globe.


PARTICIPATION IN DISCUSSIONS: This course will be largely run as a seminar. Therefore, you will have a huge responsibility in your learning in this course. Come to class, always, and come having read the assigned reading!

READING QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS: For each reading for the course you will be expected to submit comments and questions to Blackboard to be used in our class discussion.

SERVICE REQUIREMENT AND WRITE-UP: Each student is required to volunteer with a local conservation group. Ideally, dove-tail your hands-on experience with Project I!

REFLECTIVE JOURNAL: Each student will keep a journal of their thoughts/ideas/questions on conservation biology. I will evaluate your journal periodically on the thoughtfulness of your entries.


We will devote our time in the 4th hour of the course to hands-on experiences with conservation projects:

PROJECT I: Analysis of a local conservation group. Details TBA.

PROJECT II. Analysis of a conservation group in another country. Details TBA.


QUIZZES: We will have periodic short, essay quizzes.

Turning in Assignments: Unless we have previous arrangements, if an exercise is not in by the Due Date, I will deduct 10 points for each day it is late. No points will be awarded for any assignment that is more than one week late. Please check for each assignment if it is to be turned in through Blackboard or as a hard copy in class.


8 %              Participation in discussions

10%            Reading questions and comments

8%              Service requirement and write-up

4%               Reflective Journal

30 %           Group Projects I and II and III  (10% each)

40%            Quizzes


This is an interactive class and your participation is critical to the success of the entire class.  You are expected to attend every class session on time. If you do miss class, you are still responsible for all material presented in class and for any assignments/changes announced in class. If you miss class due to an excused absence, you are still responsible for material presented during class.

If you miss a quiz during an unexcused absence you will get a 0 for that quiz. Should an emergency arise, you are responsible for informing me before the class you will miss. If you are unable to call, have someone make the call for you. Calling me does not guarantee my acceptance of your reason for absence, but failing to notify me, even if your absence is excused, does guarantee that you will get a 0 for that exam.  There will be absolutely no make-ups for missed clicker quizzes.

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.


This schedule is for planning purposes and is subject to change.



Reading Assignments

What’s due by class

What’s due for 4th hour

Tu Jan 20

History of conservation biology

Chapter 1


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

We’ll go watch Obama get inaugurated- so do readings for Jan 27 and 29 for Thursdays class..


Th Jan 23

Conservation ethics

pp. 119-131


Leopold, A. 1949. The Land Ethic. In, 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.

Bring your reflective journal to class!


Read through course policies


For each reading, post two questions/ideas for discussion by 9 am on Blackboard.


Choose 4th hour day/time.


Tu Jan 27

Biodiversity I-

Chapter 2- Global Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes.



Post four  highlights of this chapter to BB. What is intriguing/puzzling to you?

Stephanie Greenwood will talk to us about creating a forest management plan for Ecovillage


Th Jan 29

Biodiversity II

Pp 63-85.


Miller, J.R. 2005. Biodiversity conservation and the extinction of experience. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20:430-434.


Ehrlich, P.R. 1988. The loss of diversity. In: Biodiversity, pp21-27, E.O. Wilson Editor, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.


Orme et al. 2005. Global hotspots of species richness are not congruent with endemism or threat. Nature 436: 1016-1019.

For each reading, post two questions/ideas for discussion by 9 am on Blackboard.


Tu Feb 3

Trip to Ecovillage



Submit to Blackboard before class

Trip to Ecovillage

Th Feb 5

John Confer and Condors




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


McLeish, T. 2007. “Karner Blue.” Golden Wings and Hairy Toes. University Press of New England. Hanover, NH

Post two questions on BB for John Confer on Golden-Winged Warblers and Karner Blues.


Tu Feb 10

Biodiversity III


pp. 86-110.


O'Brien, S.J. and E. Mayr. 1991. Bureaucratic mischief: recognizing endangered species and subspecies. Science 251:1187-1188.


Rojas, M. 1992. The species problem and conservation: What are we protecting? Conservation Biology 6:170-178.


We’re hoping that Kevin Zippel is coming to talk to us.

Th Feb12

Endangered Species

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




Tu Feb 17

Extinction- How bad is it?

Threats to Biodiversity: A Case Study of Hawaiian Birds


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



Th Feb 19

Extinction- How bad is it?

Threats to Biodiversity: A Case Study of Hawaiian Birds




Tu Feb 24

Conservation genetics


Chapter 11


DeSalle, R. and G. Amato. 2004. The expansion of conservation genetics. Nature 5:702-712.



Th Feb 26

CASE STUDY- Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone


Fascione, N., L.G.L. Osborn, S.R. Kendrot, and P.C. Paquet. 2001. Canis soupus: eastern wolf genetics and its implications for wolf recovery in the northeast United States. Endangered Species UPDATE 18:159-163.



Tu Mar 3

CASE STUDY- Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone


Additional readings to be chosen by the class.



Th Mar 5

Habitat degradation and fragmentation

Chapter 6




Mar 7-15

Impact of invasive species on biodiversity

pp. 293-331




Tu Mar 17





Th Mar 19

Impact of invasive species on biodiversity

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.



Tu Mar 24


Chapter 8




Th Mar 26

Global Climate Change- impacts on conservation biology


Chapter 10






Tu Mar 31


Film- “Baked Alaska”

Foden et al. 2008. Species Susceptibilty to Climate Change Impacts. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Species Survival Commission.



Th Apr 2


Brashares, J. S., P. Arcese, M. K. Sam, P. B. Coppolillo, A. R. E. Sinclair, and A. Balmford. 2004. Bushmeat hunting, wildlife declines, and fish supply in West Africa. Science 306:1180-1183.


Roman, J. and S. R. Palumbi.  2003. Whales before whaling in the North Atlantic. Science 301:508-510.



Tu Apr 7

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.



Th Apr 9

Ecosystem approaches to conservation

Chapter 13



Tu Apr 14

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.



Th Apr 16

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.



Tu Apr 21

Reserves- What’s being protected and how

Peres, C. A., and J. W. Terborgh. 1995. Amazonian nature reserves: an analysis of the

defensibility  status of existing conservation units and design criteria for the future. Conservation Biology 9(1):34-46.



Th Apr 23


Reserve design case problem: green sea turtles in Grand Cayman



Tu Apr 28

Integrating conservation science with policy





Newton, J.L. and E.T. Freyfogle. 2005. Sustainability: a dissent. Conservation Biology 19:23-32.


Struhsaker, T.T. 1998. A biologist?s perspective on the role of sustainable harvest in conservation. Conservation Biology 12:930-932.


Dasgupta, P., S. Levin, and J. Lubchenco. 2000. Economic pathways to ecological sustainability. BioScience 50(4):339-345.


Costanza, R. and H.E. Daly. 1992. Natural capital and sustainable development. Conservation Biology 6:37-46.



Th Apr 30















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