Ecology for QBIC (PCB 3043)          Canvas Link

Spring 2018 - Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 - 1:45 pm in SACS 352

Course Instructor

Learning Assistants:

Yulio Font, Barbara Ortega, and Imena Valdes

Journal Club Instructor

Lab Instructors

Dr. Suzanne Koptur

PLTL Leaders:

Christian Tolosa, Nhan Hoang, Shewar Islamuddin, Jeremy Guedes



Andrea Salas

Ivan Rodriguez-Pinto and Tanja Zerulla

OE 232, ph. 305-348-3103; email:


office hours T, R 10:30 am - noon;

note - no Thursday office hours 22 Feb, 1 March, 8 March

W 10:30 - 11:30 am; and by appt.

Link to PLTL

Link to Journal Club

Link to Lab

Learning goals:

            Students completing this course should gain foundational knowledge, including:  the worth and role of all organisms and non-living parts of ecosystems on the earth; how organisms adapt to environmental stresses; how organisms are modified in response to their environments; how life histories can be used to evaluate and compare strategies for reproduction and interactions with other species; how organisms and habitats compare in different biomes around the world, and how things have come to be the way they are; energy flow and nutrient cycles through food webs and communities; how communities can be compared in terms of species richness and diversity; the role humans have had in transforming natural ecosystems; the prospects for conservation of remaining biodiversity; and more.  Students will integrate and apply what they have learned to hypothetical and real-world situations, preparing them for challenges they may face in future courses, research, employment, and life.  Students will gain skills in problem solving, information retrieval and synthesis, writing, presentation, and working with others.  Hopefully, you will also become aware of the consequences of their/our/human actions on natural biota, and what can be done to ameliorate negative effects and promote ecosystem health. 

            In our class we will use small-group learning, and students will actively engage in contests, discussions, games, problem solving, and various assessment techniques to facilitate their understanding of the material.  Course content will be presented in our textbook and recorded lectures and videos available on our course website.  Some activities, and your out-of-class preparation, will be assisted with this course website, where lectures by the professor and other resources are held.  There will also be readiness quizzes and other assignments to be completed online to augment your learning. 

We will also explore the quantitative aspects of ecology using exercises and models.  Our textbook has graphing data and analysis problems, which will be assigned to complete outside of class.  The PLTL session each week will focus on strengthening comprehension and recall of important things covered week by week, and is part of the lecture class grade.  The lab and journal club (a class that QBIC students must take) are graded separately, but will complement the lecture class, with exercises in the field and lab to provide real data to analyze as well as solve how best to answer certain questions and test hypotheses.  We plan that all parts of the course will work together to give you a dynamic understanding of this science and its interfaces with mathematics, statistics, and other sciences. 


            This course will involve continuous assessment, not all of the graded kind: some will be educative in nature, allowing the instructors to know if students have learned the material, and helping the students to learn more in the process of being assessed. One way this will be accomplished is with exams taken in class, first individually, then in groups.  Another way is with student assessments of their own learning gains, and some other in-class surveys.

            The writing component of the course has two additional parts:  pop quizzes (essays) in lecture, and group projects called jigsaws.  The five-minute essays will pop up in class throughout the semester, and the best 60% of them will be counted for a percentage of your final grade.  The jigsaw will be done in groups on assigned topics, in stages; we will have some training in library research to help you find references relevant to your topic, and you will to start projects early enough to find relevant references, read the scientific articles, as well as other relevant information found from other sources, and to put together your ideas.   Groups will present their findings in class, and also turn in their words via to verify originality.  Students will review the work of other groups’ presentations and also report their group members contributions to their final products.  Needless to say, plagiarism is unethical and will not be tolerated in this or any course activity.     

Individual/Group assessments - in class exams (four highest scores - 30%) and online quizzes (10%)


Final Exam


Best 60% of "pop" essay grades, and other in-class activities


Jigsaws – two presentations with written components


PLTL - attendance, participation, and performance


Syllabus for QBIC Ecology (PCB 3043) - Spring 2018

Textbook:  Ricklefs, R.E. and R. Relyea. 2014.  Ecology: The Economy of Nature, 7th edition, W.H Freeman and Company, New York.   

 Schedule of events


Date/ day

Lecture Topic

Readings - R&R chapter

 Week 1

9 Jan T

Pre-test and Introduction



11 Jan R

The Physical Environment - Water and Nutrients


Week 2

16 Jan T

The Physical Environment - Light, Energy, Heat



18 Jan R

Variation in Climate and Soils

 4 & 5

Week 3

23 Jan T

Biomes assignment - Group collaboration on topics



25 Jan R

Exam 1  


Week 4

30 Jan T

Biomes assignment due - posted online before class today

Biomes Presentations in class today

Evolution and Adaptation 


1 Feb R

Life Histories and Fitness


Week 5

6 Feb T

Library Day  


8 Feb R

Reproductive Strategies


Week 6

13 Feb T

Social Behavior



15 Feb R

Exam 2


Week 7

20 Feb T

 Population Distribution, Growth, Regulation  

Species interaction jigsaw - assigned

11, 12     


22 Feb R

Library Day w/ Patricia Pereira Pujol

in our classroom

Week 8

27 Feb T

Population Dynamics   

12, 13


1 Mar R

Predation and Herbivory; Parasitism and Infectious Diseases

14, 15

Week 9

6 Mar T




8 Mar R

Exam 3


Week 10

13 Mar T




15 Mar R



Week 11

20 Mar T




22 Mar R

Jigsaw Presentations  


Week 12

27 Mar T

Jigsaw Presentations


29 Mar R

Exam 4 


Week 13

3 Apr T

Community Structure  



5 Apr R

Community Succession


Week 14

10 Apr T

Energy and Elements in Ecosystems

 20, 21


12 Apr R

Landscape Ecology, Biogeography, and Biodiversity


Week 15

17 Apr T

Conservation of Biodiversity



19 Apr R

Exam 5


Week 16

24 Apr T

Final Exam 12-2 pm (Cumulative)