Plant Ecology Lab Syllabus Fall 2019

Tuesday mornings 8:30 - 11:20 am, rm OE 169

Lab Instructor: Andrea Salas   - lab phone 305-348-3415   

Attendance: Every week each student is expected to show up on time and stay for the whole lab period, every lab period, or until the instructor says you are done for the day.  Only one absence can be excused without affecting your final grade.  If you know you must be away, plan ahead and let the instructors know, and perhaps you can do something in advance or make up the missed activity

Attire: Please come to lab every week ready to work, and to get dirty, either in the greenhouse, lab, or field.  For work outside the lab room, a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and water bottle will protect you and make you more comfortable.  You may want to bring a change of clothes for lab, or for after lab; please do not wear fancy clothes, high-heeled shoes, or anything that might get damaged during lab activities. 

Planned activities: Students will participate in ten labs, working in groups. Members of each group will work together to do the activities, collect data, discuss data analysis, and maintain treatments and care for plants in the greenhouse (some of these duties can be shared among groups, as scheduled with the instructor).  The written lab report of each lab will be due within one week of completing the data collection. 

Each group is responsible to write a full lab report for each experiment.  One person from each group will take primary responsibility for data analysis, interpretation, and presentation of results for each lab exercise (written and oral). Data can and should be shared among the groups.  Every student will get a grade for every lab, based on the grade given to the written and oral report, weighted by their participation and teamwork with their lab group.  At the end of the course, each experiment will be presented to the class by students who sign up to work together to make the presentation - each student must sign up for one presentation.

Grading: Each lab will count for 9% of your lab grade (10 x 9 = 90 %; or if some lab does not work out, adjusted proportionally to the total number of labs).  The final 10% may be given for preparation, attitude, and cooperation.

Needed by every student for every lab:  a lab notebook, perhaps a write-in-the-rain field notebook, or a spiral notebook or a slim binder with looseleaf paper, and/or a clipboard; lined paper; pencils and pens. 

recommended lab textbook: Ambrose, H.W. III and K.P. Ambrose.  A Handbook of Biological Investigation, sixth edition.  Hunter Textbooks Inc.  ISBN 0-88725-266-4.

Labs that we will do:

             1) Functional anatomy of graminoids (wet vs. dry habitats) field observations, collection, and lab study

             2) Plant architecture and herbivore diversity 

             3) Phenotypic plasticity and ecotypic variation in plants

             4) Inducible defenses in plants? field experiment

             5) Herbivory and secondary compounds - field assessment, damage, chemical analyses            

             6) Defoliation effects on congeneric species

             7) Competition: root vs. shoot

             8) Drought tolerance of native species and relative growth rates lab experiments

              9) Floral characteristics and pollination syndromes

             10) Pollinator behavior and flower preferences

             11) Seed dispersal

             12) Fire succession in pine rocklands - field lab


Wk 1 27th August presentation of syllabus - plans for the semester - seed preparation for germinations for later experiments - some seeds planted next day

Wk 2 - 3 Sep -  Lab 1: Functional anatomy of plants comparing upland and flood-tolerant species campus fieldtrip to observe and collect samples follow with lab study

Wk 3 10 Sep  Lab 2: Plant architecture and herbivore diversity, and Lab 4: Inducible defense in plants? fieldwork on FIU campus, choosing, marking, and damaging plants

Wk 4 17 September   Lab 3: Ecotypic variation and phenotypic plasticity

Wk 5 - 24 September - Lab work - Plant seedlings and set up for Lab 6 defoliation, Lab 7 root vs. shoot competition, Lab 8 drought toleranceand relative growth rate experiments, using many Senna spp., Centrosema, Senna ligustrina and Sophora tomentosa.  Also harvest first group for relative growth rate experiment (measure, weight, dry, do not plant these!); plan subsequent harvests. Begin defoliation treatments on Sennas. Bring Lab 8 plants to lab room to grow under lights. Treatments (defoliations, wrapping vines, and fertilzing) will be maintained in coming weeks.

Wk 6 1 October Lab 5a (and 4): Herbivory measurements in field on damaged plants, and other native plant species; record characteristics of native plant species; collect leaf samples for chemical analyses, put in freezer

*****Saturday 28 September - Lecture/lab field trip - Barnacle Historic State Park - National Public Lands Workday - 9 am - 1 pm.

Wk 7 8 October -  Lab 5b: Secondary chemistry of native plants - lab work.  

Wk 8 15 October -   Lab 8 - drought tolerance experiment, make initial measurements.   Start drought treatment.

*****Saturday 19 October - Lecture/lab field trip to Shark Valley - 9 am - 1 pm

Wk 9 - 22 October Lab 9: Floral characteristics and Pollination Syndromes

Wk 10 - 29 October -  Lab 10: Pollinator behavior and plant preferences        .

Wk 11 - 5 November -  Lab 11: Seed dispersal - FIU preserve and campus locations

*****Saturday 9 November - Lecture/lab field trip to Kampong - ecological adaptations of tropical plants - 9 am - 1 pm

Wk 12 - 12 November - Final measurements for drought tolerance experiment; also harvest final group for RGR experiment. Final measurements in competition expts - dry and weigh later. 

Wk 13 - 19 November - Lab 12: Fire succession in pine rocklands - Larry and Penny Thompson Park [no lecture exam today or this week]  Final measurements in Defoliation experiment.

Wk 14 - 26 November  Thanksgiving week - finish things up, analyze data, etc.

Wk 15 3 December   last lab day - final presentations -  submit last of lab reports