Syllabus, Spring 2007
BIOL 497H Tropical Field Biology (3 CR)
Introduction to the ecology, behavior, taxonomy, and physiology of tropical organisms, with emphasis on close observation of living organisms in nature. Includes hands-on investigation of coastal and marine ecosystems on a tropical island.
Time and place:
We will meet each Tuesday and Thursday, 5:00-6:00 P.M. in Morrill 349
The course web site is at http://bcrc.bio.umass.edu/courses/spring2007/biol/biol497h/. We will post useful things there, so please check it frequently.
Bruce Byers (birds) email@example.com 545-1236
Ana Caicedo (plants) firstname.lastname@example.org 545-0975
Michelle Staudinger (fishes) email@example.com 545-0157
Sean Werle (invertebrates) firstname.lastname@example.org 577-1239
Betsy Dumont (mammals) email@example.com 545-3565
Blake Gilmore (underwater exploration) firstname.lastname@example.org
Humann, P. and N. DeLoach. 1995. Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life. New World Publications, Jacksonville, Florida. This book is available at the Textbook Annex and will get you started on identifying some of the marine organisms that you will encounter.
Other things you should have
a) a notebook for your field journal
The course has three main components: 1) Twice-weekly pre-trip lectures, 2) eight days of field study in St. John, Virgin Islands, and 3) twice-weekly post-trip meetings, which will be used mainly for student presentations.
Grades will be based on four things:
1. Attendance. We expect each course participant to attend all pre-trip and post-trip course meetings. Attendance will account for 5% of your final grade.
2. Written work prior to the trip. After each Thurssday lecture, an instructor will assign a piece of follow-up work to be turned in the following Thursday. Each of these written assignments will be graded on a 10-point scale, and the points you accumulate over the pre-trip lectures will account for 20% of your final grade. In addition, we expect that you will read all material distributed in conjunction with pre-trip lectures.
3. A field notebook. We expect that you will keep a field notebook containing a daily record of your observations during the field trip. Your notebook should document the species that you observe each day, along with your observations of biological patterns, processes, and behaviors. Your field notebook will account for 10% of your final grade.
4. A course project. Each student is expected to devise, propose, and complete an appropriate research project. Developing a topic for your project will be one of the primary goals of the pre-trip portion of the course. A good project might combine some observations, collections, and/or data that you gather during the trip with some follow-up research at home. You wonít have a tremendous amount of time to work on your own in St. John, so the field component of your project must be doable within the confines of the trip structure.
Take advantage of the course instructors in developing your project idea. Consult with them as your idea incubates. We will share with you a list of project ideas; you may use one of these ideas as the basis of your project or you may develop an idea of your own. By the time we leave for the trip, you will have developed a project proposal. Draft proposal worksheets are due on Tuesday, February 27. Projects and project planning will be discussed at greater length at the 2/1 lecture.
After we return to UMass, each student will make a 15-minute oral presentation of his or her project to the class. These presentations will begin two weeks after we return from the trip, so the earlier presentations will necessarily be "works in progress." Each student will also complete a written, scientific-paper-style description of the project and its findings. A draft of the project write-up is due on 4/24, and the final version is due at the last class, Tuesday 5/15. Your project proposal, fieldwork execution and effort, oral presentation, and written project presentation will account for 65% of your final grade.
(lecture topics subject to change)
Thurs 2/1 Searching scientific literature, project planning overview (Byers; Byers gives assignment)
Tues 2/6- Reef-building organisms (Werle)
Thurs 2/8 Plant diversity and the plants of St. John (Caicedo; Caicedo gives assignment)
Tues 2/13 – Terrestrial arthropods and other invertebrates on St. John (Werle)
Thurs 2/15 Invasive species (Dumont; Dumont gives assignment)
Tues 2/20 – Reef fishes (Staudinger)
Thurs 2/22 – Birds of St. John (Byers; Byers gives assignment)
Tues 2/27 – Pollination ecology and seed dispersal (Caicedo; project worksheets due)
Thurs 3/1 – Threats to and conservation of reef ecosystems (Staudinger; Staudinger gives assignment)
Tues 3/6 – Bat diversity and ecology (Dumont)
Thurs 3/8 – Introduction to sampling (Werle; Werle gives assignment; responses to project worksheets back to students)
Tues 3/13 – Hummngbirds (Byers)
Thurs 3/15 – logistics, equipment distribution, field notebook pointers, last-minute questions.
Field trip schedule
3/18 Morning: Introduction to snorkeling in Little Lameshur Bay.
3/19 Morning: Hike to dead mangrove forest, Europa Bay, and elsewhere.
3/20 All day: Hike to petroglyphs, Reef Bay sugar mill ruins, summit of Bordeaux Mountain; exploration of tropical dry forest and island history.
3/25 Travel day; return home.
Thurs 3/29 – How do I present my data? - Making tables and graphs (Dumont)
Tues 4/3 –Ecomonimically valuable tropical plants (K. Searcy guest lecture)
Thurs 4/5 – Tips for your paper and presentation (Byers)
Tues 4/10 – student presentations (3 per session)
Thurs 4/12 - student presentations
Tues 4/17 – Monday schedule, no class
Thurs 4/19 - student presentations
Tues 4/24 - student presentations (paper drafts due)
Thurs 4/26 - student presentations
Tues 5/1 - student presentations
Thurs 5/3 - student presentations
Tues 5/7 - student presentations
Thurs 5/10 - student presentations
Tues 5/15 - student presentations (final papers due)