Ecology for QBIC (PCB 3043)          Blackboard Link

Spring 2013 - Tuesday and Thursday 2 - 3:15 pm  in GC 278B

Course Instructor

Lab Instructor

Dr. Suzanne Koptur

Bryan Dewsbury

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

office hours W 10 am - noon; Thursday 9:30 - 11 am; and by appt.

Link to Lab

 The goal of this course is for you to understand ideas and concepts of ecology, and be able to integrate information to formulate solutions and solve ecological problems in modern life.  We will emphasize connections with mathematical, physical, and chemical processes, as well as biological ones!  Readings should always be done before the lecture for which they are assigned.  Material covered in class will supplement what you read in the text, and understanding the lecture will depend on your having read the chapter before class.  We will also read articles related to material covered, and discuss them as a group, with different students leading the discussion each time.  The best grades will be achieved by doing the reading, attending lecture, participating in class activities, working the problems, taking all exams, and turning in/presenting assignments on time. 

Classroom activities and your textbook reading will be assisted with a course website in which you can review terminology, read more on subjects that interest you, and take practice quizzes to help you master the material.  You will also explore the quantitative aspects of ecology using exercises and models.  We will focus on strengthening math and statistics ability, with the help of the data analysis modules from the textbook.  The lab 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 hope that all parts of the course will work together to give you a dynamic understanding of this science and its interfaces with mathematics and other sciences. 

There will be three exams and a final.  If you must miss an exam, the zero will become your low grade.  Your lowest midterm grade will be dropped.  All students must take the final.   Keys will be posted on the course web page.  If you feel that an error was made in the grading of your exam, you may request in writing that your test be regraded, handing in your exam with the problems described on a sheet stapled to the front of your exam.

The writing component of this lecture course has two parts:  pop quizzes (essays) in lecture, and a group project called a jigsaw.  The five-minute essays will pop up in lectures throughout the semester, and the best 60% of them will be counted for a percentage of your final grade.  The jigsaw will be done with partners on assigned topics, in stages; we will have some training in library research to help you find references relevant to your topic.  It is advisable to start this project early to give yourself time to obtain references from InterLibraryLoan (if needed), read the scientific articles, and to put together your ideas.   Students will present their findings as group powerpoint presentations in class, and also turn in their papers via to verify originality.  Plagiarism is unethical and will not be tolerated in this or any course activity. 

Exams (20% each, a total of 2 (best 2 of 3) midterms and 1 final)


Best 60% of "pop" essay grades


Jigsaw - oral and written presentation


Class participation - leading and participating in discussions


PLTL - participation, math review, and completed modules


Syllabus for QBIC Ecology (PCB 3043) - Spring 2012

Textbook:  Ricklefs, R.E. 2008.  Economy of Nature, 6th edition, W.H Freeman and Company, New York.  Website resources:
plus: Harris, M., G. Taylor, and J. Taylor. 2005. CatchUp Math and Statistics for the Life Sciences.  Scion Publishing Ltd.

Date/ day

Lecture Topic

Readings - Ricklefs chapter

8 Jan T



10 Jan R

The Physical Environment - Water and Nutrients


15 Jan T

The Physical Environment - Light, Energy, Heat


17 Jan R

Variation and Biomes

 4 & 5

22 Jan T

Biomes Presentations - your trip to an exotic location in a designated biome!


24 Jan R

Evolution and Adaptation


29 Jan T

Life Histories

7       data analysis module # 1

31 Jan R

Sex, Family, Society

8 & 9

5 Feb T

Exam 1

7 Feb R

 Population Structure   [jigsaw assigned]

10      d.a.m. # 2

12 Feb T

Population Growth and Regulation

11      d.a.m. # 3

14 Feb R

Population Dynamics

12      d.a.m. # 4

19 Feb T

Population Genetics and Evolution


21 Feb R

Species Interactions - Competition

14, 16  d.a.m # 5

26 Feb T


15   d.a.m. # 6

28 Mar R

Evolutionary responses and Coevolution


5 Mar T

Jigsaw Presentations

7 Mar R

Exam 2

12 Mar T


14 Mar R


 19 Mar T

Community Structure


21 Mar R

Community Development 19

26 Mar T

cinematic interlude  

28 Mar R

cinematic interlude  

2 Apr T

Biodiversity 20
4 Apr R Energy in Ecosystems 22

 9 Apr T

Elements and Nutrient Regeneration
23, 24

11 Apr R

Extinction and Conservation

16 Apr T

Global Ecology

18 Apr R

Exam 3

23 Apr R

Final Exam this week (Cumulative)