Plant Ecology Lab Syllabus Fall 2013

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 without affecting your final grade.  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 eight 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. 

Each group is responsible to write a full lab report for each experiment.  One person from each group will take primary responsibility for data analysis, interpretation, and presentation of results for each lab exercise (written and oral). Data can and should be shared among the groups.  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.  At the end of the course, each experiment will be presented to the class by students who sign up to work together to make the presentation - each student must sign up for one presentation.

Grading: Each lab will count for 10% of your lab grade (9 x 10 = 90 %; or if some lab does not work out, adjusted proportionally to the total number of labs).  The final 10% 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:

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

              Herbivory and secondary compounds - field assessment, damage, chemical analyses 

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

              Above-ground vs. below ground competition in butterfly pea

              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

              Seed dispersal

              Pollination syndrome and nectar standing crop 


Wk 1 27 August Introduction to lab - tour of campus plant sites - looking at plants with an ecological eye

Wk 2 3 Sep Functional anatomy of plants comparing upland and flood-tolerant species campus fieldtrip to observe and collect samples follow with lab study

Wk 3 10 September pine rockland succession - Larry and Penny Thompson Park

Wk 4 - 17 September - Herbivory measurements in field; record characteristics of native plant species; collect leaf samples for chemical analyses.  (Perhaps:  set up field artificial damage experiment on selected native plant species).  FIU preserve. 

Wk 5 24 September Secondary chemistry of native plants - collect leaf samples from native plants, including experimentally damaged leaves and undamaged leaves from selcted native plant species.  [could do this previous week, and keep in freezer for this week's analyses, to allow maximum lab room time for certain tests.]

Wk 6 1 October - Greenhouse work - Plant seedlings and set up for four experiments:  relative growth rate, above-vs-below ground competition, and defoliation [details in lab handouts]

              Relative growth rate AND Drought tolerance: Hibiscus coccineus, Crotalaria maritima, Physalis walteri

              Above-vs.-below ground competition:  Centrosema virginiana [maintain treatments throughout coming weeks]

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

harvest first group for relative growth rate experiment (measure, weight, dry, do not plant these!); set up plants in apparatus for drought tolerance experiment (to be conducted in two weeks or more).

Wk 7 8 October field trip to Fairchild Tropical Garden - plant/animal interactions

Wk 8 15 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 3 days and for 7 days next lab period compare FW, DW, relative water content

Wk 9 22 October final measurements for drought tolerance experiment; also harvest final group of plants for relative growth rate experiment.

Wk 10 29 October Pollination syndromes and nectar standing crop - pine rockland site

Wk 11 5 November Seed dispersal - FIU preserve

Wk 12 - 12 November  Shoot-vs-root experiment dismantling and measurements of each plant - fresh and then dried.

Wk 13 19 November   Defoliation experiment (greenhouse) measure plants, compare clipped and non-clipped controls.

Wk 14 26 November - last day to submit all the lab reports

Wk 15 - 3 December - last lab day final presentations