Syllabus – Evolutionary Ecology Lab – Fall  2010

Friday mornings 9 am – 12 pm in  OE 169 and other locations

TA:  Beyte Barrios, supervised by Dr. Suzanne Koptur


This lab course will involve students directly with organisms in the field and

laboratory, to explore various aspects of evolutionary ecology with plant and animal

examples in natural and disturbed habitats. The lab will have some demonstration content,

with displays of specimens of organisms involved in various interactions discussed in

lecture, and books and articles about the subjects displayed. We will have several field

trips, which will take the place of labs on the weeks concerned. We will first perform

exercises as a group, then students will design and conduct and independent investigation

relevant to the content of the course. This project will be a report on an investigation of a

particular case of adaptation or the functioning of a “strategy”. This may involve mostly

field work or largely lab work, plus appropriate library study, according to choice.

Results will be written up and presented at the end of this class.


Course Policies: You are expected to be on time to class, and to stay the full period.

You are expected to maintain high standards of academic honesty. Any student found in

violation of these standards will earn an automatic F and be reported to the Deans Office,

no exceptions made. In accordance with FIU's policy on academic honesty, as set forth in

Section 2.44 of the Academic Affairs Policies and Procedures Manual

(, it is expected that students in Evolutionary

Ecology will not submit the academic work of another as their own. Additional discussion

of academic honesty and integrity may be found in the Manual of Student Conduct.


Learning outcomes: Students will learn to acquire data in systematic ways, and to

perform controlled field experiments with living organisms. They will learn interpret their

results with elementary data analysis, using spreadsheet programs and simple statistics.

They will review relevant scientific literature and use it as background for writing up their

results as lab reports. Working in our local habitats, they will also learn about south

Florida flora and fauna.


Requirements: This course, a companion to Evolutionary Ecology (PCB 4673/5687),

will rely, as background, on the readings for that lecture course. The instructor will

provide lab handouts and some additional references of relevant reading for each lab. A

resource book that we will use is a classic, very useful little paperback (Ambrose &

Ambrose, see below). Each student will assume responsibility for the write-up of

each lab project, and also the execution, analysis, and write-up of a project of her/his

own design. The grade will be based on the lab write-up (25%), individual project

execution and write-up (50%), presentation of individual project (10%), and class

participation/attendance (15%).






PCB 4999L/5687L Evolutionary Ecology LABORATORY

Schedule of Events


Reference book: Handbook of Biological Investigation (6th ed.) 2002.

by Harrison W. Ambrose, Katharine P. Ambrose, Douglas J. Emlen, and Kerry L. Bright. 

 Paperback: 194 pages Publisher: Hunter Textbooks; 5th

edition (April 1, 1995) ISBN: 0887252168



Day/date/ wk


Readings in text

F/ 27 Aug

Find and procure book!


F/ 3 Sep

First meeting – introduction and plans

Ch. 1-Ch.9

F / 10 Sep

Descriptive statistics

Ch. 1-Ch.9

F / 17 Sep

Plant response to damage from herbivores

F / 24 Sep

Plant architecture and the diversity of herbivorous insects

F/ 1 Oct

Ant feeding and activity in different habitats

F/ 8 Oct

Variation in leaf size – Sun vs. shade leaves


F/ 15 Oct

Reproductive allocation


F/ 22 Oct

Reproductive allocation


F/ 29 Oct

Pollination Biology


F/ 5 Nov

Pollination Biology


F/ 12 Nov

Ecotypic (?) Variation in Plants


F/ 19 Nov

Seed shadows of wind-dispersed plants


F/ 26 Nov

No class – Thanksgiving holiday


F/ 3 Dec

Last class - Final presentations