Dr. K. C. Larson, Fall 2004

Course Web Page:


Meeting time:              Lecture:                        10:50-12:05  TTH     LSC   170

Lab:                             (1) 2:40-5:20 T;  (2)  2:40-5:20 TH

 Labs meet in LSC 027 or announced field locations                                 

Office: Location:                      LARSON   018 LSC  Phone: 450-5928   Email:


I will be happy to answer your questions or provide additional explanations.  You are welcome to come by my office during office hours, schedule a different time, or any other time you can find me in.  I am always easy to contact through email, and writing out your question will help you develop your writing skills as well as leave you with a written account of both your question and my answer. 


Hours:              LARSON   9:30-10:30 TTH; 10:00-11:30 or 1:00-2:00 W


Pre-requisites: Principles of Biology II (BIOL 1441) and Elementary Statistics (PSYC 2330, SOC 2321, or MATH 2311)


Course Description:  This introduction to ecology covers population, community and ecosystem level ecology of plants and animals.  It focuses on the interactions of organisms with each other and with their abiotic environment.  In ecology nearly everything depends on other things, i.e., the presence or absence of other organisms or whether it was a wet or dry year, etc.  This makes it very difficult to consider facts in isolation, and this class will focus on understanding the interconnections among different concepts and facts.  Although the class focuses on basic ecology, we will often consider the relationships between basic ecological science and current environmental problems.


Course Goals:  I have six basic goals for what I expect students to achieve in this course.  Below, I have listed what each student should set as their course goals (that is if you want to do well in the course), and how I intend to assess your progress toward reaching these goals.  Check back on these goals as the semester goes on to make sure you are still on the right track.


1. Know the basic facts of population, community and ecosystem level ecology.


2.  Be able to clearly and concisely speak about and write about the major concepts in ecology. 


3.  Recognize the interconnections among the major concepts of ecology.


4.  Understand how empirical evidence (i.e., data) supports or refutes the major concepts.


5.  Be able to design an ecological study that addresses relevant questions, carry out the study using the appropriate equipment, and interpret and present your study to your peers.


6.  Investigate how the ecological concepts you learn in class relate to current environmental problems.


Lecture:  The goals set for this course require that the students become more active in learning the science of ecology.  You cannot expect to meet these goals by memorizing material.  You must think about the concepts and be able to clearly describe them and their implications to me and to your peers.  For this reason we will have discussions in class (sometimes the whole class, sometimes in small groups).  You should prepare for these discussions by reading assigned material (see assignments from the text at the end of this syllabus; additional reading assignments from the web will be assigned and then posted on the course web page), and writing out answers to assigned questions before class (assigned questions from your book or elsewhere will be posted on the web page as they are assigned).   


Lecture assessment: In the lecture you will have two ways to show your progress on reaching the course goals listed above: (1) two hour long exams and a final (2) in-class short quizzes.  Lecture exams--I do not normally give make-ups for the two lecture exams, but will for well-documented and serious excuses made before the exam.  The hour long exams will typically consist of 10 questions of mixed format, including short answers, definitions, fill in the blank, interpretations of graphs and figures, and essay questions.  I reward clear, precise thinking about ecological concepts, and you can only demonstrate this to me through clear and precise writing. Answers to essay questions should be clearly written sentences forming coherent, logically progressing paragraphs. Proper grammar, spelling, etc. is expected. Please do not abbreviate or use your own personal shorthand.  If you need improvement in the area of essay writing, come see me and I can suggest some things that may help you.  My questions are written as specifically as possible, so carefully check your answers to make sure you have answered exactly what was asked for.  My criteria for grading are available on the course Web page.  In class short quizzes—These will be of mixed format, such as a short essay, multiple choice, interpreting a graph, or drawing a graph or figure.  They will not be announced in advance and there will be no make-ups.  To prevent you from losing points because you miss class and a quiz due to illness or a flat tire, I will allow you to drop your three lowest scores.   To score well on these quizzes, you will need to keep up with assignments to read, write, and think about ecology.


Laboratory.  The laboratory schedule is posted on the course web page:’t print this schedule, but check it each week on the web! Follow the link from this web site to fill out the Travel Request—you cannot attend or get credit for an off campus field trip until you turn in your Travel Request.  Weather and unpredictable field studies mean that the schedule is likely to change—any changes will appear on the Web page as soon as I know about them—if you are unsure if lab will meet or where due to a raging thunderstorm, check the web page before coming to class.  

The goal of lab is for you to use the scientific method to conduct ecological research.  You make ecological observations, formulate hypotheses, design experimental tests of your hypotheses, carry out the experiment, use appropriate statistical tests to analyze your data, make conclusions based on your results, and present the results (orally and/or written) to me and your peers.


Be Prepared for Lab:  Always read the assignment before lab and bring your lab manual to class; assignments are posted on the course web page.  Always bring a field and data notebook, calculator (with the manual if you don't know how to use the statistical functions), and a pencil.  We will often go to the field and you need to be properly dressed.  The following may help you if you don't know exactly what I mean by proper field dress.


1. wear long pants for protection from briers and mosquitoes--especially at UCA Nature Reserve (or don't complain about scratched and bitten legs if you wear shorts)

2. wear warm clothes if it is cold (i.e., enough to keep you warm for several hours--not the 5 minutes it takes to walk from your car to class)

3. wear crummy shoes and be prepared to get your shoes dirty/wet…that’s shoes not sandals!  The number one reason that students cannot participate fully in lab is wearing the wrong footwear. 


Be aware that every semester we encounter poison ivy and ticks—no poisonous snakes yet.  I’ll make sure you know what Poison Ivy looks like, but it is important to remember that poison ivy and ticks are both common in Arkansas and both can be washed off with a good shower with lots of soap and water to get Poison Ivy oils off and scrubbing to removal larval ticks (only a field biologist would need to be reminded to take a shower after lab, but I include this statement just in case some of you have field biology potential). 


Lab Grades:  Points for the lab will come from lab reports, class presentations and quizzes.  Quizzes may require the use of your calculator, lab manual, and your field and data notebook.  Quizzes may be given the week after the lab or at the end of lab and they may be unannounced.     


Attendance Policy: 

Lecture Policy:  I will not take attendance in lecture, and you do not need to provide me with an excuse for missed lectures.

Lab Policy:  You cannot make up a missed lab, but you can arrange with me to attend the another lab section if you must miss.  If you turn in a report or take a quiz over data that was collected in a lab you missed, you will get 50% of the possible points.


Other Policies:

Students are expected to be familiar with all policies listed in the Student Handbook. 


Students with Disabilities:

Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the instructor and the UCA Office of Disability Services (450-3135) at the beginning of the semester. 


GRADING:     Lecture                                    66.6% of grade

                             Lecture exams (3 @ 100 points each)            300      

     Lecture quizzes                                            100


Lab                                          33.3% of grade

     reports and quizzes                                       200


Total                                                                                        600


Because weather can make labs unpredictable, the total number of points available in lab may not add to 200.  Regardless of the points available, they will be scaled to count 33% of the overall grade.  


The grading scale is based on:

            90-100%  =       A                                 60-69%  =        D

            80-89%  =         B                                  < 60%    =        F

                        70-79%  =         C


READINGS FOR GENERAL ECOLOGY:  The exact date for each topic will vary; sometimes we will be ahead and sometimes behind scheduled times.  The order of topics will not change, so you will always know what we will cover next.  To get the most out of lecture, you should have read—at least skimmed over—the chapters listed for that week.  I do not make assignments of specific pages, but clearly some parts are more important than others.  To direct your attention and focus your studies of the chapters, use the questions posted on the web page to direct your reading.


TEXT:  Ecology: Concepts and Applications by Manuel Molles, second edition.





AUG 19


Introduction to course


Chap 1


AUG 24

AUG 26


Ecology and Evolution; 

Terrestrial Environments

Chap 8

Chap 2


AUG 31


Aquatic Environments

Energy and Nutrient Acquisition; Realized and Fundamental Niche

Chap 3

Chap 6; plus p. 307




Energy Flow


Chap 18

SEP 14

SEP 16

Nutrient Cycling

Chap 19


SEP 21

SEP 23


Populations of Plants and Animals—what is an individual?



Chap 9 and 10


SEP 28

SEP 30

Population growth;


Chap 10 and Chap 11







Chap 13


OCT 12

OCT 14






OCT 19

OCT 21





Chap 14

Chap 15


OCT 26

OCT 28

Life Histories


Chap 12




Pests and Weeds



Lecture only



NOV 11

Abundance and Diversity

Community structure

Chap 16


NOV 16

NOV 18


Food webs


Chap 20

Chap 17


NOV 23

NOV 25

Conservation Ecology


Chap 21, 22, 23



NOV 30


Conservation Ecology




FINAL EXAM, Tuesday 11:00-1:00