Aerial View of Dionne Green

Bio 105 - Syllabus


Course: Biology 105 - Biodiversity (3 credits)

Instructor: Dr. John R Conway

Textbook: The Diversity of Life. 1992. E.O. Wilson. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Course Description:

Understanding and maintaining biological diversity on earth may be the key to mankind's survival and prosperity. Today species are becoming extinct at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Unless the trend is reversed, the rate of extinction over the next few decades may increase even more and result in the loss of a quarter or more of all species. This course will focus on the variety of animal and planet species, especially in the two most diverse ecosystems: the coral reef and the tropical rain forest. The flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands and the Serengeti of East Africa will be discussed to illustrate the problems of conserving unique ecosystems for future generations. Entomological diversity will be emphasized because most of the world's species are insects. Ant diversity, in particular, will serve as a paradigm because of the instructor's familiarity with this group. The foundations of biological diversity will be studied: ecology, systematics, evolution, and biogeography. The course will analyze the effects of historical, cultural, economic, religious, and political forces on biodiversity. Current topics will be discussed, such as deforestation, human population growth, endangered species, and global warming. Satisfies Goal I of GE Natural Science requirements.

Learner Objectives:

  1. Students will understand the definition of species
  2. Students will compare natural vs. man-induced extinction
  3. Students will learn basic principles of ecology, systematics, evolution, and biogeography as they relate to biodiversity
  4. Students will examine how the diversity of animal and plants on earth has changed over time
  5. Students will study the two most diverse ecosystems on earth: coral reefs and rain forest
  6. Students will study insect and ant diversity as paradigms of biodiversity
  7. Students will discuss the flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands and Serengeti of Africa and study the problems conserving these unique ecosystems
  8. Students will examine human diversity and analyze the impact of different cultures on biodiversity
  9. Students will discuss how habitat destruction, human population growth, global warming and other factors affect biodiversity
  10. Students will learn about organizations devoted to the preservation of biodiversity
  11. Students will become familiar with governmental policies affecting biodiversity and how individual citizens may have an impact on these policies
  12. Students will examine methods to assess and monitor biodiversity
  13. Students will discuss countries that have taken a lead in preserving biodiversity and earn about positive alternatives to habitat destruction
  14. Students will discuss positive and negative aspects of science and technology on biodiversity
  15. Students will learn about medicinal, genetic, and other benefits of preserving biodiversity

Course Requirements:

  1. Regular attendance, preparation for and participation in class. Attendance will be taken at each class meeting. Four absences will be allowed without penalty. Each additional absence will decrease the final grade by 5%. Perfect attendance will be rewarded by adding 6 points to the student's final point total.
  2. Take notes on lecture, films, videos, and text assignments. Exam question may be over any of these materials.
  3. Successfully complete all exams and assignments. Make-up exams will only be given under exceptional circumstances when accompanied by a written excuse.
  4. Cheating will not be tolerated. Students are expected to read the Biology department's policy on academic honesty. A person caught cheating my be expelled form the course and reported to the University for further disciplinary measures.
  5. Send a typed letter on a topic or issue relating to biodiversity to a decision maker in government or business. The letter must explain the student's position on the issue and request feedback on the policymaker's position or actions on the issue. Letters will be graded on accuracy of content, grammar, spelling, clarity and rationale. A student will earn 5 bonus point if he/she receives a substantive response.
  6. Write an in-depth paper (approximately 10 pages) on a topic dealing with biological diversity. The paper should survey recent scientific literature on the subject and document sources with internal citations. The literature cited section should contain at lease four current references (1990 or more recent). Topics must be selected before the end of the second week of class.
  7. Present a short oral report (5-10 minutes) on your paper. Only one report is to be given per lecture period.

Course Grading:

1st Exam 100 pts.
2nd Exam 100 pts.
Final Exam (Comprehensive) 100 pts.
Participation 25 pts.
Biodiversity letter 15 pts.
Research Paper 50 pts.
Oral Report 10 pts.
Total 400 pts.
  • Participation: Each student will receive a participation grade (0-25 points) based on her or her oral answers to questions over the assigned reading. The instructor will ask several questions over the assigned reading at the beginning of each class period to students selected at random. These questions may appear on exams.
  • NOTE: Exam grades are not curved. If a grade is warranted it will be done at the end of the semester.

Grading Scale:

Grade Percentage Total Points
A 93-100 372-400
A- 90-92 360-371
B+ 87-89 348-359
B 83-86 332-347
B- 80-82 320-331
C+ 77-79 308-319
C 73-76 292-307
C- 70-72 280-291
D+ 67-69 268-279
D 60-66 240-267
F below 60 below 240

Suggested Reading:

  • Biodiversity. 1998. W.O. Wilson (editor). National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
  • Biodiversity II. 1997. M. L. Reaka-Kudla, D.E. Wilson and E.O. Wilson (editors). Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C.
  • The Private Life of Plants. 1995. D. Attenborough. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  • The Primary Source. 1984. N. Myers. W.W. Norton and Company, New York.
  • Global Biodiversity. 1992. B. Groombridge (editor). Chapman and Hall, New York.
  • Principles of Conservation Biology. Second Edition. 1997. G.K. Meffe and C. R. Carroll. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Mass.
  • The Ants. 1990. B. Holldobler & E.O. Wilson. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Mass.
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