Conservation Biology (BIOL 379/380)  -  Course Syllabus, Fall 2014

Class days/times: 
Lecture -Tues. & Thurs.9:55-11:10, Location:  Lecture – LCSI 303; Field Trips – Tues. 11:45-2:45*
*there will be one Saturday trip, and due to traffic issues on some Tuesday afternoons we may return after 3:45

Instructor:  Associate Professor Jennifer Dever

Contact Info:
Office:  HR 352
Phone:  415-422-5481
Office Hours:  Wednesday 1:30-3:30
Twitter: @jadever

Course Description 
The course is an in-depth examination using the integrative science of conservation biology to protect biodiversity.  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 and how community participation is essential.  Furthermore, we will examine ecological concepts that are utilized in conservation management practices and the significance of sustainability. 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 approved environmental organization.  This is a field course, and we will also have the opportunity to experience biodiversity around the bay area and see first-hand how science is being used to manage this biodiversity. 

Prerequisite:  Genetics Co-requisite or pre-requisite (completion with minimum grade C).
Corequisite:  Conservation Biology Field Class

Course materials:
Essentials of Conservation Biology by Richard B. Primack, 6th edition, Sinauer. ISBN 978-1-60535-289-3 (the 5th edition is fine too)...
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, Ballantine Books.

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 from a local, regional and global perspective – and analyze how that movement has evolved over the years. 
Outcome 2. Recognize and 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. Apply critical reasoning skills to analyze and dissect conservation problems and provide pragmatic solutions.  You will be able to logically discuss relevant conservation issues and critique past and current methods used to preserve biodiversity.
Outcome 4. 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 5. Evaluate the significance of ongoing regional and global conservation efforts and demonstrate proper academic writing and presentation skills.
You will evaluate current environmental/conservation efforts being made by both private and government organizations in the area and abroad.  You will discuss how cultural differences impact conservation efforts in diverse parts of the world.

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.  In groups of 2-3,you will be participating with conservation 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.  You will also practice translational-science by using social media.

Your group must A) choose an organization, B) have it approved by me and C) contact the volunteer coordinator to secure a spot. During your time at the organization, each group member will be responsible for fulfilling the following requirements:

B) Twitter Feed – You will be required to set up a Twitter account for the class.  You will use this social media tool to reflect on your Service-Learning experience and to keep current on national/international conservation efforts.  You will also use this as a means of sharing this information with others by using #conservationbioUSF. A minimum of two conservation biology related tweet/retweets required each week. For information on twitter see

C) 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(s) 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.

D) Reflection Journal – At the end of the semester you will turn in a reflection journal.  This personalized document will allow you to dig deeper into your SL experience. Rather than simply chronicling your work with the organization you will discuss your feelings about the experience and the organization.  You should also write about how the experiences related to the conservation biology class.  Journals may be hand written, provided they are legible.  Although this is due at the end of the semester, you should write on a regular basis –especially immediately after you have left the organization that day.  For tips on journaling your SL experience see

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

E) Essays: Each student will complete two essays. One will be on a given topic. For the second essay you will be expected to critically read a peer reviewed journal article and translate the information for the lay reader. Further details for these papers will be provided.

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

F) 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.

G) Exams:  You will complete three exams (including the final).  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.

Grade Breakdown:
3 exams (300 pts)     
Essays (70 pts)  
SL Journal (20 pts)   
SL onsite presentation / SL evaluation (90 pts)  
Twitter feed (20 pts)

A- 90-93%, A 94-96%, A+ 97-100%
B- 80-83%,   B 84-86%,   B+ 87-89%
C- 70-73%,  C 74-76%, C+ 77-79%
D- 60-62%,  D 63-66%, D+ 67-69%; 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 = “the uncredited use (both intentional and unintentional) of somebody else's words or ideas” from
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. Please see the Honor Code section of the 2011-2012 USF Catalog.

Electronic Devices In Class:  PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES while in class (OR SILENCE THEM). 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.

Lecture Schedule