Plant Ecology Lab Syllabus Fall 2012

Course Professor: Suzanne Koptur; Lab Instructor: Beyte Barrios

Attendance: Every week each student is expected to show up on time and stay for the whole lab period, every lab period, or until the instructor says you are done for the day. Only one absence can be excused; if you know you must be away, plan ahead and let the TA know, and perhaps you can do something in advance or make up the missed activity in another lab.

Attire: Please come to lab every week ready to work, and to get dirty, either in the greenhouse, lab, or field. For work outside the lab room, a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and water bottle will protect you and make you more comfortable. You may want to bring a change of clothes for lab, or for after lab; please do not wear fancy clothes, high-heeled shoes, or anything that might get damaged during lab activities.

Planned activities: Students will participate in six labs, working in groups. Members of each group will work together to do the activities, collect data, discuss data analysis, and maintain treatments and care for plants in the greenhouse (some of these duties can be shared among groups, as scheduled with the TA). The written lab report of each lab will be due within one week of completing the data collection, as arranged with the TA.

One person from each group will take primary responsibility for data analysis, interpretation, and presentation of results for each lab exercise (written and oral); this designated person from each group will work together with the other designated persons from other groups to accomplish this (the number of students working on each report will vary, depending on the number of people in the class). Every student will get a grade for every lab, based on the grade given to the written and oral report, weighted by their participation and teamwork with their lab group.

Grading: Each lab will count for 15% of your lab grade (6 x 15 = 95%). The final 5% may be given for preparation, attitude, and cooperation.

Needed by every student for every lab: a lab notebook, perhaps a spiral notebook or a slim binder with looseleaf paper, and/or a clipboard; lined paper; pencils and pens.

recommended lab textbook: Ambrose, H.W. III and K.P. Ambrose. A Handbook of Biological Investigation, sixth edition. Hunter Textbooks Inc. ISBN 0-88725-266-4.

Labs that we will do:

Relative growth rates Greenhouse experiment, two harvests, drying ovens, weighing

Functional anatomy of graminoids (wet vs. dry habitat dwellers) field observations, collection, and lab study

Response to defoliation: subsequent growth greenhouse expt.

Drought tolerance of native species greenhouse or lab experiment

Post-fire recovery/ succession in pine rocklands field observations, initial and later [coupled with field defoliations and later data and leaf collection of that project]

Herbivory and inducible defenses (field experiment, and later lab component)


Wk 1 20, 21 August Introduction to lab

Wk 2 27, 28 August no lab meeting c/o Hurricane Isaac

Wk 3 3, 4 September no lab meeting, Labor Day holiday

Wk 4 10, 11 September Greenhouse work - Plant seedlings for two experiments: relative growth rate and defoliation [details in lab handouts]

Relative growth rate: Hibiscus coccineus, Crotalaria maritima, Physalis walteri, one other

Defoliation: Senna polyphylla, S. surratensis, S. fasciculata, S. mexicana

Wk 5 17, 18 September Set up drought tolerance experiment (start plants in their apparatus; to conduct the actual drought stress in 3 weeks)

Wk 6 24, 25 September harvest first group for relative growth rate experiment

Wk 7 1, 2 October Pine rockland post-fire initial observations/sampling AND set-up of artificial damage for herbivory/inducible defense field experiment (four species)

Wk 8 8, 9 October Response to defoliation: remove 75% biomass from experimental greenhouse-grown plants (to later compare with controls); AND Begin drought tolerance experiment raise plants out of solution for 12 h, 24 hr, 36 hr, 48 hr next lab period compare FW, DW, relative water content

Wk 9 15, 16 October Measurements for drought tolerance experiment; also harvest final group of plants for relative growth rate experiment.

Wk 10 22, 23 October Functional anatomy of plants comparing upland and flood-tolerant species campus fieldtrip to observe and collect samples follow with lab study

Wk 11 29, 30 October pine rockland succession part 2; and gather leaves from field artificial damage experiment, and other native plants, to be analyzed in next chem lab

Wk 12 5, 6 November secondary chemistry of native plants

Wk 13 12, 13 November Monday ONLY no class (Veterans Day); Tuesday lab meets: Defoliation experiment (greenhouse) wrap-up measure plants, compare clipped and non-clipped controls.

Wk 14 19, 20 November Monday lab meets (no Tuesday lab this week instructor and professor at FTBG for Fairchild Challenge Environmental Immersion Day): Defoliation experiment (greenhouse) measure plants, compare clipped and non-clipped controls.

Wk 15 last lab day final presentations