Conservation Biology, BIOL 379/380

Course Syllabus for Fall 2011

Class days/times: Lecture -Tues. & Thurs.9:55-11:10, Field Tues. 12:45-3:45*

Location: Lecture Masonic 228, Lab HR 340 or off campus


Instructor: Associate Professor Jennifer Dever

Contact Info:

Office: HR 352

Phone: 415-422-5481

Office Hours: Wednesday 1:30-3:30

Course Description 

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the area of conservation biology.  It will include an examination of the historical and ethical background underpinning the current conservation movement.  We will be making connections between society and wildlife, specifically relating to human impacts on wildlife and the role of the conservation biologist to deal with that impact.   We will focus on biodiversity, with an emphasis on monitoring and maintaining biodiversity on the planet.  Furthermore, we will examine ecological concepts that are utilized in conservation management practices.  There is a service learning component to this course, and you will be required to participate a minimum of 40 hours during the semester with an environmental organization.  This is a field course, and we will also have the opportunity to experience current conservation efforts around the bay area. 

Prerequisite:  Genetics Co-requisite or pre-requisite (completion with minimum grade C).

Corequisite:  Conservation Biology Field Class

 Course materials:

A Primer of Conservation Biology by Richard B. Primack, 4th edition, Sinauer Publishers.

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, Ballantine Books Publishers.

Additional papers will be made available.


Learning Outcomes: 

Outcome 1.   Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the history of conservation and how it has developed into a Biological sub-discipline.

You will be introduced to the history of the conservation movement, both from a U.S. perspective and a global perspective and analyze how that movement has evolved over the years. 

Outcome 2.  Analyze the value of biodiversity.

         You will be able to discuss the various levels of biodiversity, and the current management practices for maintaining sustainable biodiversity.

 Outcome 3. Synthesize the various ecological concepts involved in conservation management practices and explain how the various levels of biodiversity (from species to ecosystems) can be conserved.

         You will be able to describe the models for monitoring and managing wildlife populations and ecosystems.  You will make connections between habitat management and sustainable use.


Outcome 4.  Evaluate the significance of ongoing conservation efforts in the bay area.

         You will become familiar with current environmental/conservation efforts being made by both private and government organizations in the bay area.

         You will process how the service learning experience is connected to concepts and reflect upon this experience.

         You will participate (in groups) directly with an environmental/conservation organization and give a presentation to the class chronicling your experience as well as detailing the history and activities which the organization is involved.


What fun stuff will I get to do this semester?

A) Service Learning Component:

A portion of your grade is based on your service oriented participation with an environmental/conservation-related organization in the community.  This service learning activity will expose you to the role such an organization plays in the conservation effort.  You will be participating with organizations that will provide you with hands-on experience as well as allow you to participate actively in the conservation of biodiversity within your community. You will be able to use many of the Tuesday afternoon sessions to complete your service work, however it will not be limited to this time- you are responsible for arranging your service hours with the organization.   During your time at an organization which must be first approved by me, you will be responsible for fulfilling the following requirements:

     completing a minimum of 40 hours of service at an approved organization

     chronicling your activities in a reflection ournal and directly relating them to material we are covering in class during discussion periods

     organizing and leading an on-site presentation on your environmental organization with your fellow group members

Reflection Journal You will be responsible for chronicling your service activities in your journal.  However, what is more important is that you use this journal as a way of reflecting on your service experience.  You should write down your feelings about the service work and organization.  You should also write about if and how the work relates to the conservation biology class.  These will be turned in at the completion of your service work time.

Group onsite presentation:  Working in groups, you will coordinate an on-site service field trip for the class to attend.  At the organization/service site, you will organize and lead a presentation on your particular conservation/environmental organization, for which you have conducted your service work.   This should include a service activity for the class to participate in, as well as a brief introduction to the organization staff members.  You and your partner will be responsible for the presentation material.  The presentation must be an in depth discussion about the organization, its members, historical background information on the organization and impact it has on conservation of biodiversity and the community as a whole.  Your grade will depend on how well you conveyed the information to the class, how much background information was provided, how much work was put into the presentation, how well the class responded to your presentation, and how much the class got out of the site visit.

  For additional information on the Service Learning Requirement - see the SL info site.

B) EssaysEach student will complete three essays/assignments. The first essay will be on a given topic. You will be able to choose among a few topics. In the second essay, you will be expected to critically read a journal article and write a review of this article, incorporating information learned throughout the course. The third essay will be a translational science essay. Further details for these papers will be provided later.


C) In class activities: A few times this semester, you will participate in "in-class" discussion activities which include debating specific topics and role-playing.


D) Field Trips: This is a FIELD COURSE, and we will be taking class field trips to various places where folks are involved in conservation issues throughout the region. We will be able to learn first hand from individuals working in the field of conservation! Field trips are on Tuesdays from 12:45 - 3:45 (there will be one trip that will run over this time, but you will be informed ahead of time). See the schedule link for specific trip dates. You are responsible for knowing when these dates are! You are required to be on time, since we leave for the trips promptly at 12:45. We will usually meet at the Koret Parking lot, upper level, or HR 340 - be sure to pay attention to where the meeting place and time is! Also, be sure to dress appropriately oftentimes we will be hiking around outside so hiking shoes and a jacket is highly recommended.


E) Exams:  You will complete a midterm and a final exam.  These will be primarily short answer/essay exams.  The final is not comprehensive. 


How will my grade be determined? You will receive the same grade for both lecture and lab sections, and it is determined by the points you earn/total points possible.

Grades:          Grading Scale:  
2 exams (200pts)      A- 90-93%, A 94-96%, A+ 97-100%
Essays (90pts)  

B- 80-83%,   B 84-86%,   B+ 87-89%

In-class activities (10pts)  

C- 70-73%,  C 74-76%, C+ 77-79%

Journal/Discussion (10pts)    D- 60-62%,  D 63-66%, D+ 67-69%
SL onsite presentation (90pts)   F     <60%


Academic Honesty: From the USF catalog: “The University expects students to be honest in their academic work. Academic dishonesty is viewed as an ethical issue and a violation of the principles of justice and personal responsibility inherent in the University's ideals as expressed in its Statement of Mission and Goals. In particular, students must refrain from plagiarism, cheating and collusion in connection with examinations and must acknowledge fully all sources and all assistance received in work submitted to the faculty for evaluation.”
Plagiarism of papers or cheating on exams, quizzes, or homework will not be tolerated. You may not copy any part of anyone else’s work and pass it in as your own. Any plagiarism or cheating will result in a grade of F for the course, and a report will be submitted to the Dean resulting in a permanent record of the incident in your academic file. If you observe someone else cheating, you also have the responsibility to bring this situation to the instructor’s attention.

Electronic Devices In Class:  Turn the OFF.  PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES while in class. Please refrain from using a lap-top or iPad in class. These items are distracting and unnecessary in this type of course.  If you need to record the lectures, that is permissible provided you discuss this beforehand with the instructor.
Students with disabilities:  Please discuss your needs with me during the first week of classes.  Any student who, because of a disabling condition may require special arrangements in order to meet course requirements should contact the Disability Related Services Dept. at 2613.


Tentative Lecture/Field trip Schedule