Biology 305: Principles of Ecology


Text Box: Tracy S. Feldman
Office: TNR 337		Phone:	342-5340
Office Hours:  Mon: 1:30-3:30 Wed 1:30-3:30; or by appointment/when my office  
door is open







Course Schedule:


Class:              Room #:          TNR 170

Day/Time:       12:00-12:50 M W F (Monday/Wednesday/Friday)


1.      Ecology by Cain, Bowman, and Hacker (rental)—required!


Description: Ecology


Ecology is the “study of the house.”  If “the house” is Earth, then it is the study of organisms and their interactions with the living and non-living world around them.   I plan to teach this course as an introduction to basic concepts related to several subfields of ecology, including populations, life histories, species interactions, communities, and ecosystems.  Ecology is a science, meaning that people study life using a process called the scientific method.  Whenever possible, I will draw from examples (old and new) of people’s work in ecology, to highlight the process of using the scientific method to understand the world. 


Course Goals

Learning is best achieved when students take an active role in their own learning, both in and out of the classroom.  This means that you are responsible for how much and how well you learn—I am here to help you along the way, by presenting or explaining the material as needed, and by giving a variety of assignments, including reading, writing, and group activities, to help you to understand the material.  Try not to be afraid of failure or embarrassment– if you learn something from the experience, it is not a failure at all.  But most of all, remember that if you do not understand the material, **you are responsible** for studying more to try to figure things out for yourself, and then for asking questions in class or attending office hours if you are still having trouble.  I am very happy to help you with understanding the material. 


Class Rules (as determined during the first class):

  1. Do not litter in the classroom (and recycle recyclables)!
  2. Listen to each other with an open mind
  3. Be respectful of everyone
  4. Be creative—expand our minds
  5. Cell phones and text messaging devices must be turned off during class
  6. Raise your folders
  7. Offer relevant contributions
  8. Be on time to class


Attendance Policy

I do not grade on attendance in lecture, but because participation in class/group discussions and in-class assignments are part of your grade, attendance is very important.  The only excused absences are those sanctioned by the university: university-sanctioned sports events, class field trips, death in the family, serious illness, or accident.  If you have missed a class and did not let me know ahead of time, or do not have a very good excuse, you will get a zero on any in-class assignments you missed.  Please do not announce to me that you must be somewhere and expect it to be excused – it is your responsibility to provide written documentation!

Academic Honesty

An honest attitude is critical to real learning and progress in all academic endeavors.  Being an honest learner requires a commitment to abide by and foster academic honesty in all its aspects.  I expect you to have a thorough appreciation of what is meant by academic honesty, and to have made a firm commitment to embody these standards with regard to your own learning.  Plagiarism is defined in Chapter 14 of the UWSP Rights and Responsibilities Publication. 


What is plagiarism?

1.      If you use someone else’s ideas, even if you paraphrase them, and do not cite them. 

2.      If you take entire large phrases or sentences from sources without BOTH citing AND putting these in quotes.


This is true for any written assignment or group assignment for which I expect everyone to turn in their own work.  Also, please do not plagiarize my lab handouts or written assignments.  Plagiarism counts as using entire phrases or sentences from someone else’s work, and using these as your own—even if you cite these phrase or sentences, it still counts as plagiarism unless you put other people’s phrases in quotes. 


Why is plagiarism a bad thing?

1.      I cannot tell what you have learned—what do you really understand and what have you simply copied? 

2.      It is illegal.  In the working world, people are fired for this sort of thing.  In academia, the consequences are also serious.

3.      It is deceptive and immoral.  It is not right to use ideas or words of others and not give them credit.


How can people avoid it?  (Plagiarism is really easy to avoid.)

1.  If you can write in your own words about what you have read in an article without even looking at the wording of the article itself, you will likely do fine.  Then, if you got the information from a source just cite that source appropriately. 

2. If you must use someone’s words, put quotes around them and cite them!

3.  If you aren’t sure, ask me!  There is no penalty for asking me about something beforehand!


What happens if a student plagiarizes an assignment?


Any failure to follow the UWSP Academic Honesty Code (including plagiarism on any assignment) will result in a zero grade for that assignment, a meeting with me to discuss it, and a written letter to go in your university file, at the very least.  If a second assignment is plagiarized by the same person, the grade for the course will drop at least one letter grade.  Here is the Very Important Link to the code:  Also, I reserve the right to submit any and all written student work to I require that you turn in digital copies of all written assignments.


Please work and learn with an open attitude.  We can only identify the limitations of our own thinking if we question ourselves and others in an open, rigorous way.  In this sense, academic honesty is integral to developing analytic thinking skills, and critical to the process of real learning.  Also, developing these skills (an open, flexible attitude, and respectfully critical) will serve you well in the working world, whatever you end up doing.


Desire 2 Learn & Clickers

This semester we will use Desire2Learn (D2L) as a clearinghouse for course information.  You will be able to access your grades, handouts, and any messages from me on D2L.  The website for D2L is: .  You probably also have a link in your portal, or “MyPoint” webpage under Academics.  Simply go to the webpage and log on, using your campus login and password, and you will find a link to Biology 305.  Please check the D2L site often (especially before classes), in case I have left an important message for you.  Also, homework will be posted under the week in which it was assigned (not necessarily the week in which it is due!).



This class uses “Clickers” to do interactive polling.  I may not use clickers in every class period, but I will try to use them at least once in each week. You are required to lease a clicker for $8 for the semester.  This semester lease fee will be automatically added to your UWSP student bill.  You will need your UWSP Student ID to lease a clicker.


Clickers are available through:

·         UWSP's Help Desk, located in the basement of the LRC, room 023. For hours:

·         ResNet, located in the basement of Debot, room 068. For hours:


Important: Your clicker may be used in any class that requires clickers for the semester.


Returning clickers: Clickers must be returned to one of these areas before the end of finals.  Students with unreturned clickers will receive an additional $39 billed to their UWSP account.


Grading Policy

I will assign 2 written homework assignments during the semester (one of them is a group assignment), each worth 25 points.  I will also give several (~6) quizzes as homework after class (due at the start of the next class), each worth 10 points.  I will give more quizzes than I will collect for grades, but you will not know ahead of time which quizzes will be graded.  Two midterm exams will be worth 60 points each, and the final exam will be worth 120 points.  Class participation (including group participation) will be worth 50 points.  Part of your class participation grade will involve a chance to rate yourself and others in your group.  The total grade will be out of approximately 400 points.  I do not curve grades.


Lecture Exams

The first two exams will be administered during scheduled class time.  The third lecture exam will be given on May 14 at 8:00 pm, during the scheduled final exam time.  Exams may include multiple choice, matching, short answer/essay and true/false questions.  Make-up exams will only be given for university allowed absences (see Undergraduate Catalog).  Make-up exams must be taken within 3 class days of the scheduled exam (NO EXCEPTIONS).  If you wish to confer with the instructor regarding your grade, it must be done within one week of the date the exam is returned.  Requests should be made at the instructor’s office and not during class time.  Exams will be returned 1-2 weeks after they have been administered.


Participation Grade

I welcome questions during class, and other sorts of positive participation—these are great.  Your participation grade will increase if you show an open attitude toward learning, and at least try to understand the material.  If you spend your lab and class time in a constructive and helpful way, your participation grade should be fine, no matter what your other grades are.  If you are late to class, or otherwise disrespectfully interrupt the flow of the class, with frequent complaints or other signs of disrespect (besides asking questions, which are definitely very welcome!), this will negatively affect your participation grade. 


Grading Scale (305)                                      


Percentage                 Grade                                    

93%-100%                  A                                70%-72.5%                 C-

90-92.5%                     A-                               67%-69.5%                 D+

87%-89.5%                 B+                              63%-66.5%                 D

83%-86.5%                 B                                60%-62.5%                 D-

80%-82.5%                 B-                               < 60%                          F

77%-79.5%                 C+

73%-76.5%                 C


Late policy

If you cannot complete an assignment on time, the grade will drop by half a letter grade per day.  If you let me know ahead of time that you are sick or for some other reason cannot make it, I will allow you to hand in the assignment up to two days late without penalty.  Thereafter, it is your responsibility to hand in the assignment on time. 


Going for help:

If you need help with assignments or concepts we are learning, there are many ways to get that help:

  1. Ask questions in class.
  2. Study in groups outside of class—your peers may be able to explain things to you in different ways that can help (also use study suggestions handout posted on D2L).
  3. Ask me questions during my office hours (or when I am available in my office, # 337)
  4. Look at the exam keys I post after exams are over—do you understand why your answers were correct or incorrect?
  5. If you still are feeling lost, consider a tutor—tutors are available for this course—this may be a very good way to help you understand the material better.


If you are having trouble that is more personal in nature, there are ways to get help:

1.      If you need someone to talk to, you may wish to visit the UWSP Counseling Center ( (715)346-3553, Delzell Hall.

2.      If you are experiencing difficulties that are affecting your grades, you may wish to visit the Student Academic Advising Center (, (715)346-3361, Student Services Center (building #2) in room 103.  They can help you decide what to do if you wish to drop or withdraw from a course.


Drinking and your GPA

A recent study (Lust, Ehlinger and Golden, 2008) on the health and behavior of college students at the University of Minnesota confirms that the three behaviors with the most damaging effect on GPA were: drinking, spending excessive non-work time with tv/internet/computer, and sleeping too little.


In the study, the authors report that students who drank in the past two weeks had a gpa 0.3 points lower than non-drinkers, on average.  This is less of an effect than the 0.5-point cost of binge-drinking any time during the semester, as cited in your Bio281 syllabus: it is reasonable to expect that more drinking, and drinking over longer periods of time, have greater negative consequences on performance in college.


Keep in mind, these surveys necessarily exclude unsuccessful students: students who drop out or are suspended due to poor performance are obviously not included in a late-semester survey.  This means the results are likely to be UNDERESTIMATES for the negative effects.


A summary of the report, containing a link to the full article, can be found at:


Your final exam will be on May 14th from 8:00-10:00 AM


See also: tentative course schedule with readings and topics.


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