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Spring 2014  Biol 220 W (Evening Section)

Biology: Populations and Communities

Lectures: MW 6-7:15 p.m. 112 Chambers

Biology 220W is a four credit course with both lecture and laboratory components.



Dr. Tomás A. Carlo

414 Mueller Laboratory

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1-3 p.m & by appointment


Course Coordinator: Dr. Carla Hass, 418 M ueller Lab, 863-4708, Office Hours: MW 10:10-11 a.m. and by appointment.  For questions on course logistics, please email Dr. Hass within your ANGEL lecture section (not lab).  For questions about course content, see the Instructor during office hours or by  appointment.


Lab Coordinator: Dianne Burpee,, 115 Mueller Lab, 865-1714.  Office Hours: By appt.


Dr. Carlo has a strong enthusiasm for teaching and for ecology, and is very excited to be working with you this semester. It is the goal of the course that you further develop your ability to think critically as you learn about ecology and develop the skills to evaluate scientific information. Be prepared to actively learn during our class meetings with group work and in-class activities.  Assigned homework will provide further opportunities to work with the material and will be incorporated into your course grade.


To cover basic ecological and evolutionary concepts and link them to relevant modern issues, including climate change, conservation biology, and sustainability.
To help students learn to think critically as scientists do.
To help students develop a fundamental understanding of the science of ecology and evolution, especially of the:  1) interactions of organisms within and among populations of the same species;  2) genetic and evolutionary processes that modify and adapt populations;  3) interactions between organisms of different species, 4) aspects of energy cycles and biogeochemical cycles, 5) distribution patterns of living organisms, 6) impact of humans on these patterns.  
In the laboratory section, you will practice the scientific method through experimental laboratory exercises and become proficient in the interpretation and presentation of your results through written and oral reports.  The writing intensive component of the course is fulfilled by writing assignments, exercises, and reports.


1. Required Textbook:
Cain, Bowman, & Hacker, Jr. 2014. Ecology, 3nd Edition. Sinauer Associates. 
(eBook, loose leaf, and hard-cover versions are available)
2. iClicker
You are required to purchase an i>clicker remote for in-class participation.  i>clicker is a response system that allows you to respond to questions I pose during class, and you will be graded on that feedback and/or your in-class participation.  In order to receive this credit, you will need to register your i>clicker remote online within the first TWO WEEKS of class.  You must have come to class at least once and voted on at least one question in order to complete this registration properly.
To complete the web registration, go to the clicker registration page in registration our course in ANGEL. You will need to enter your clicker ID. The remote ID is the series of numbers and sometimes letters found on the bottom of the back of your i>clicker remote. i>clicker will be used every day in class, and you are responsible for bringing your remote daily.
3. Laptop/Calculator (needed for in-class exercises). 
4.  Required Lab Access Coupon: Purchase this coupon at one of the cash registers at the Penn State Bookstore in the HUB-Robeson Center.  This coupon is non-refundable.  During the first lab meeting, you need to submit this coupon to your TA.  You must purchase a coupon to receive a lab grade for the course. The lab manual and materials will be accessed though your lab section in ANGEL
5. Active PSU Access Account: To access both lab and lecture materials via ANGEL, it is essential that you have an active Penn State Access Account and access to a computer.  If you do not have your own computer, you can use one of the many computer labs located on campus.
Note: ANGEL is down for routine maintenance between 4 -6 a.m. daily -- during that time you cannot access any materials or submit assignments on ANGEL.
6. Supplemental Readings: Additional readings will be available as handouts given in class and/or as items posted on the course Web site.   


I will post PowerPoint slides the same day or immediately after each class meeting.  You will notice, however, that these slides DO NOT contain every word said during lecture!  They don’t even necessarily contain all the information you need to prepare for exams.  They will provide you with an outline of what we plan to cover to help structure your note-taking, and references to the relevant parts of the textbook. My presentations will be more dynamic because I’m not just reading slides to you.  Your learning will be better because as you’re taking notes, you’re actively processing the information. Attend class, pay attention, and ask lots of questions during class.


1. Class meetings: Class will begin at 6:00 p.m.  The Instructor will assume that you have some working knowledge of the material before coming to class (i.e. reading for each class from the relevant textbook chapter should be done in advance of the lecture).  In many cases the readings might be more comprehensive than the material covered in the class, but the additional information will help you to more fully understand what we cover in class.  Also, some handouts might be given in class for material covered that day. In some instances you should print pertinent lecture material for each day prior to coming to class.  All topics discussed in class, covered in handouts and homeworks, and posted on the course Web site will be considered testable material.  Please do not ask the instructors or TAs which material you “need to know”.  Unless told otherwise, you need to know it all.  
Class attendance is VERY IMPORTANT!  This is an active learning classroom, and class activities are critical for learning the skills necessary for reaching class goals.
This course stresses concepts and mechanisms, and it is critical that you understand and synthesize, rather than simply try to memorize, the material.  Memorization alone will not be sufficient to succeed in this course.  Bring your questions to class, or to your instructor’s office hours/appointments.
2. Laboratory (for more detail see your laboratory syllabus):
The laboratory coordinator is Dianne Burpee,, 115 Mueller Lab, 865-1714.  Office Hours: By appointment. This part of the course will begin the week of 10 January in Mueller Lab with a lab exercise. Section change requests must be emailed to Dianne Burpee and they must be made by 5 p.m. on 21 January. Section changes will not be made after this date.


Attendance in laboratories is mandatory; also, points will be deducted for tardiness.  You may miss one lab session without a legitimate excuse (listed below under Course Policies: Exams section), without incurring an attendance penalty (read the complete details on attendance and makeup policies in the Lab Introduction file posted on ANGEL and your lab syllabus; this will be covered by your TA on the first day of your scheduled lab section).  If you miss any lab session you are still responsible for the material covered and for any assignment(s) that may have been due at the time of your missed class, or assigned during your missed class.


Most written assignments will be electronically submitted through a drop box in ANGEL and must be submitted before the beginning of your scheduled lab session on the date that the assignment is due to be considered on time.  Further details about submitting assignments, grading policies and making up exercises for which you have a legitimate excuse will be found in the lab syllabus, the lab manual introduction file and will be discussed by your TA during the first meeting of your section the week of January 9th in Mueller Lab.  
You are responsible for reading and understanding all laboratory policies found in the lab syllabus and in the introduction file of the lab manual posted in ANGEL.

Conflict Exams

If you have an evening exam in another course, you must make arrangements to take the conflict exam at another time because you will not be excused from a lab for the purpose of taking an evening exam in another course.  This semester, all lab sections are completely filled and you cannot assume that you will be able to make up an exercise at another time.

Lab Teaching Assistants

The TAs are available to help you with laboratory material.  Their office hours are held in the TA Office in 607A Mueller; TA office hours will be posted near the door to that room and on the course Web page in ANGEL.


1.  Grades: There are 700 points possible in lecture and 300 points possible in the laboratory.  You must pass BOTH lecture and lab in order to pass the course.

Exam 1

100 points

Exam 2

100 points

Exam 3

100 points

Exam 4

100 points

Final Exam

140 points (20% of lecture grade)

Homework Assignments & In-Class Exercises

100 points

Clickers (participation)

60 points (8% of lecture grade)


700 points

a. Exams: During the time when classes are in session you will have three lecture exams.  During the final exam period you will be given a two-part exam that will include a section on new lecture material and a comprehensive section on all material covered in the course.  You must memorize your lab section number and your PSU student ID number in order to correctly complete the Schreyer Institute (SI) scantron form.
Attendance at exams is mandatory; if you are absent, you must contact the course instructors within 48 hours of missing the exam. The following are the only legitimate excuses for missing an exam – including the final exam:
A University sponsored event (with note from sponsor) 
Religious holiday recognized by PSU 
Death in the family 
Social functions (family reunions, weddings) are not legitimate excuses for missing an exam or lab.  If you have a family emergency, you may call the university’s Assistance and Information Center 24 hour Family Emergency line at 814-863-2020.  They will take the information and notify your instructors of your absence.  
If you qualify for a make up exam (short answer/essay format), the make up exam must be scheduled within one week of missing the regular lecture exam.   
b. Final Exam: The fourth lecture exam and comprehensive exam in the course are given during the official final exam period the week of May 5th.  The comprehensive final will cover mainly the material on the first three lecture exams, but may have some questions covering material on the fourth lecture exam, relating that material to topics previously covered in the course.  
If you have three or more finals during consecutive exam periods, or on the same day, or a direct conflict, you must file for a conflict final exam through the registrar’s office.  Students may file for conflict examinations through eLion between  February 11 and March 3.  No conflict exam requests will be accepted after March 3.  DO NOT make any travel plans until the final exam schedule is published on eLion (around February 15).  Travel is not a legitimate reason to request a conflict final exam.
c. Written Homework Assignments: There will be 10 assignments throughout the semester, each worth 11 points.  You can earn a maximum of 110 points out of the possible 120 points for your homework portion of the grade, giving you some breathing room if you miss an assignment.  These will be short assignments completed outside of class, but may be started during in-class activies.  All assignments should be submitted to the designated ANGEL dropbox by 5:30 p.m. on the due date.
d. Clicker questions: Occasionally during the lectures in this course we will ask multiple choice questions that you can answer with your iClicker.  To earn your clicker question participation points for each class, you merely need to be present in class and answer EVERY question posed during that class period.  Being right or wrong will not affect the number of points you earn.  The point of these questions is to keep you engaged in class and to allow you to assess your knowledge of the course in real time.  
For each class, you can earn 3 points for participation.  For each semester half, you can earn a maximum of 30 points for clicker participation, for a total of 60 points for the class.  If you came to every class (N=24), you would have 72 points available, or 36 points for semester half.  This means that if you forget your clicker or miss a class, you can still earn all your participation points for the class. 
There are no make ups for clicker questions – you must be in class with your clicker on and working to receive these points. If you leave class early or arrive late for class, you receive 0 points for participation, unless you have a university recognized excuse.  To receive credit for your clicker questions, you must register your clicker online, following the directions provided.  Updated points will be posted in ANGEL at regular intervals.  It is your responsibility to check that your points are being posted accurately.  If there is a problem, you must let the instructors know immediately.  Requests for an instructor to check points will only be honored within two weeks after the posting of clicker point totals for an exam block. 
e. Practice questions for exams: For every exam, we will offer you the opportunity to earn up to 2 bonus points by writing a multiple choice question for the exam. These are due by midnight at least one week before the exams.  See the posted instruction on ANGEL for details.
You MUST use your PSU account and an appropriate subject line to communicate with any course personnel.  
2. Academic Integrity/Academic Dishonesty: Professional behavior includes academic integrity.  The following is quoted directly from the "PSU Faculty Senate Policies for Students" regarding academic integrity and academic dishonesty: “Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution.”   By striving to be professional and by maintaining an honest community in our classroom, free of dishonesty, cheating, and plagiarizing, we can foster an environment of fairness and maximal learning.  
Academic dishonesty is not limited to simply cheating on an exam or assignment.  Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, tampering with the academic work of other students.”  Lying to gain an advantage over other students is also an academic integrity violation. All University and Departmental policies regarding academic integrity/academic dishonesty apply to this course and the students enrolled in this course.  Refer to the following URL for further details on the academic integrity policies of the Eberly College of Science.
Each student in this course is expected to work entirely on her/his own while taking any exam, to complete assignments on her/his own effort without the assistance of others unless directed otherwise by the instructor or teaching assistant, and to abide by University and College policies on academic integrity and academic dishonesty.  If you have any questions about an assignment, please ask.  Academic dishonesty either in lab or lecture will be sanctioned and can result in assignment of “F” by the course Instructors or "XF" by Judicial Affairs as the final grade for the student.  Students are responsible for ensuring that their work is consistent with Penn State's expectations about academic integrity.
3. Assignment of Final Grades:  It is your responsibility to keep track of your grades on lab assignments.  Exam grades will be sent to you by SI.  Lecture exams (total of 680 pts) count for 69% of your grade; the remaining 31% will come from laboratories (300 pts).  Final course grades will be assigned as follows (total of 980 points*  - there are no extra credit points available):
A = 93 – 100% A- = 90 – 92% B+ = 87 – 89% B = 83 – 86% B- = 80 – 82%
C+ = 77 – 79% C = 70 – 76% D = 60 – 69% F = less than 60%
Grade cutoffs may be adjusted to reflect the score distribution of the class.  Individual exams are NOT curved.  A final grade will be changed only in the event of mathematical or grade-entry error .
In extraordinary circumstances, a final grade may be based upon fewer than the total possible points.
Your lab work is worth 300 points towards your final score.  Earning less than 60% of the available lab points will result in a final grade of an F in the course, regardless of your lecture exam score.
4. Disability:  Qualified students with disabilities are encouraged by Penn State to participate in the University's programs and activities.  Should you need any type of accommodation in any course because of a disability or have questions or concerns about the physical access, please contact the Office for Disability Services in 116 Boucke Building (863-1807). If you have an ODS accommodation letter, please see the instructors.
5. Copyright Issues and Classroom Note-Taking Services:  Students who are enrolled in the course and who sell notes to either commercial note-taking services or to other students are advised to consult official University policies (for example, see Administrative Policy AD40) to learn about classroom notes, handouts, and other materials that are protected under the federal Copyright Act and under University policy.  Students should consult such University policies in order to avoid violating copyright laws and University policy.
The syllabus is subject to change: The instructors reserve the right to make changes to items on this syllabus, including changes to the lecture and lab schedules, and lecture and lab topics. Please see the ANGEL website for the latest version of the syllabus.
You are responsible for reading and understanding all course policies as outlined in this lecture syllabus, the lab syllabus received from your teaching assistant, and the posted lab introduction file.

Course Schedule



Topic (subject to change)




Jan 12

Course Introduction



Jan 14

The Physical Environment

Ch 2

Axial tilt & climate (in class)

Jan 19

Martin Luher King Day

No classes


Jan 21

Biomes/Environmental variation

Ch 3 & 4


Jan 26

Evolution & Ecology

Ch 4 & 6

Adaptation to climate (in class)

Jan 28

Evolution & Ecology

Ch 6

Genetic drift simulation (in class)

Feb 2-4

Life history Strategies/


Ch 7

Tradeoffs simulation (in class)

Feb 9

 **EXAM 1**



Feb 11


Ch 8 + Assigned readings


Feb 16

Abundance & Distribution

Ch 9

Capture-recapture (in class)

Feb 18

Demography & Life Tables

Ch 10

Life Table (in class)

Feb 23

Population Growth, Population dynamics

Ch 10 & 11


Feb 25

Competition & predation

Ch 12-13


Mar 2

Symbiosis (parasitism-mutualism)

Ch 15


Mar 4

**EXAM 2**



Mar 9 & 11

**Spring Break**



Mar 17

Guest lecture 



Mar 19

Communities and interaction diversity

Ch 16


Mar 23

Diversity, Disturbance

Ch 16-17

Diversity Worksheet (in class)

Mar 25

Succession, Assembly rules

Ch 17-19


Mar 30

Global biogeographic patterns

Ch 17-19

Biomes worksheet (in class)

Apr 1


Ch 20


Apr 6

**EXAM 3**



Apr 8

Food webs & Nutrient cycles

Ch 21-22


Apr 13

Food webs & Nutrient cycles

Ch 21-22


Apr 15

Conservation Biology

Ch 23

Species-area curves & reserves (in class)

Apr 20

Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Management

Ch 24


Apr 22

Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Management

Ch 24


Apr 27-29

Global Ecology

Ch 25

 Win-win ecology essay