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Title: Forest Ecology 016

Forest Ecology, BIOL-016, Syllabus, Spring 2007

I. Short description

This course is for nonscience students (and is not open to biology majors or minors). The main course objectives are to learn about forests, how scientists study them from an ecological standpoint, and how to manage forests; and to increase scientific literacy. The course has four main parts: (1) background information on forests and forest studies; (2) case studies of local forests; (3) discussion and analysis of current topics including endangered and threatened species, fires, global change, and logging; and (4) observations on and recognition of selected forest organisms. The lecture-discussion format is accompanied by photographs and short hikes in local forests. Limited to 12 students. Credits: 3. Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Edward M. Barrows
102 Observatory
TU, 11:15 a.m. – 1:05 p.m.
TH, 11:15 a.m. – 12.05 p.m.

II. Office Hours

Professor Barrows: TU, 1:15–4 p.m. Other times by appointment. You are welcome to e-mail me at anytime. I can usually answer within 1–2 days.
Mr. Aaron Howard, tentative TF: _____________

III. Suggestions for studying

A. DO THE ASSIGNED READING BEFORE EACH LECTURE so that you are familiar with the major concepts. Focus on the CONCEPTS rather than trying to memorize the numerous facts presented in each chapter. We will cover a substantial amount of material that is not presented your readings.

B. You will get handouts with lecture outlines. You should use them to help organize your note-taking in lecture.

C. Review and fill in your lecture notes on the evening of every lecture, consulting your text and the notes of another student as needed. Form a study group now!

D. Learn the material presented in lecture first, the text related directly to the lecture second and other text material only after you have mastered the first two sources.

E. Learn the material most completely on the weekend after it is presented, so that you are not scrambling just before an exam. Limit the time allowed for study just before each test by keeping up with your studying all along, throughout the semester.

IV. Assignments in class

A. Examinations: There will be three in-class exams and a final.

Note well: The final is in 102 Observatory, not another place that the Registrar might announce. The final exam will emphasize material from the last part of the course but will include material from the entire semester. The exams will require you to apply your knowledge gained from readings, lectures, labs, and group discussions. Mere recitation of the facts will not be enough. We may, for example, give you a graph or figure that you have not seen before, and ask you to use your knowledge to interpret it. Material from lecture will be emphasized on the tests, but you will also be responsible for material from the assigned readings. The format for the exams will be true-and-false (with modification), short answer, and brief essay questions. This is a new course. There are no old exams to post, but you will get study questions in your handouts that will be similar to many of the ones on your exams. We do not collect or grade answers to the study questions.

You must take the exams at the scheduled times; there will be no make-up exams or alternative times. You may drop the exam (one of four exams) which is your lowest grade.

B. Oral reports and discussions. Each student will lead the discussion regarding a selected topic of forest ecology, and we expect other students to enter discussions about the topics.

V. Grading

You can earn a total of 400 points in this course: 100 points for each of 3 exams and 100 points for your discussion leading, discussion participation, and citizenship.

Grades will be assigned as follows: A = 92–100%; A- = 89–91%; B+ = 86–88%; B = 82–85%; B- = 79–81%; C+ = 76–78%; C = 72–75%; C- = 69–71%; D+ = 66–68%; D = 60–65%.

VI. Special Needs

If you have special needs because of a handicap or learning disability, we will make every effort to work with you. However, you must contact us IMMEDIATELY (i.e., by the end of the first week of class) so that appropriate arrangements can be put in place.

V. Course website (Blackboard)

We will post materials on Blackboard as needed ( We will e-mail updates on our syllabus and special announcements to you. Be sure to keep space in your e-mail account so that you do not lose class messages.

VI. Snow Closing

In the event of a severe storm, call 687-SNOW to determine whether classes are canceled at GU.

VII. Honor code

We assume that everyone who enrolls in this course will behave in a responsible and honest fashion, in accordance with the GU Honor System. Academic dishonesty (plagiarism, cheating, etc.) will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Such behavior will result in failure in the course and immediate referral to the Honor Council for further action, which may lead to suspension or expulsion. The University Honor System and procedures for academic dishonesty cases are described on pages 53–57 of the Undergraduate Bulletin, or on-line at Please read the section on plagiarism TODAY (, so that you understand clearly what falls under the definition.

VIII. Class Citizenship

Please do not eat during class (except during stipulated times when we share a snack, etc.), chew gum loudly, talk over other people, etc.

IX. Our class periods will include lectures, demonstrations, discussions, hands-on activities, hikes in local forests, and a video. Below is a tentative schedule because weather may change our times outdoors. On many Tuesdays as time allows, we will take short biodiversity hikes to examine forests and their species (primarily animals, fungi, and plants).

Week of 7 January

10 Jan. WE. Classes begin
11 Jan. TH. Class 1. Course introduction

Week of 14 January

15 Jan. MO. Holiday.
16 Jan. TU. Class 2. The science of forest ecology, value of forests to Humans, environmental factors and kinds of forests. Hike (the forest in winter).
18 Jan. TH. Class 3. Environmental factors and kinds of forests, continued.

Week of 21 January

23 Jan. TU. Class 4. Forest structure and functioning: succession, food chains, food webs, communities (autotrophs, herbivores, parasites, predators, pathogens, pollinators, saprophages, etc.). Biodiversity hike (selected organisms).
25 Jan. TH. Class 5. Forest structure and functioning, continued.

Week of 28 January

30 Jan. TU. Class 6. Case study: A major forest consumer: the Gypsy Moth. Biodiversity hike (selected organisms).
01 Feb. TH. Class 7. Exam. (Individual student meetings regarding the exam, student needs, etc. are scheduled twice during the term.)

Week of 4 February

06 Feb. TU. Class 8. Selected local forest species (keying and identification of selected trees and animals).
08 Feb. TH. Class 9. Selected local forest species , continued.

Week of 12 February

13 Feb. TU. Class 10. Case study: A natural forest: Glover Archbold Forest (includes examination of subhabitats and an analysis of the health of the forest, site visit, a 50-min hike)
15 Feb. TH. Class 11. Case study: Glover Archbold Forest, continued.

Week of 18 February

19 Feb. MO. Holiday.
20 Feb. TU. Class 12. Case study: An unnatural forest: Washington, D.C. – the artificial savanna of the GU Campuses and nearby streets (Includes an analysis of the state of the GU savanna (Main and Medical Campuses) and city trees and other biota, a 50-min hike)
22 Feb. TH. Class 13. Case study: An unnatural forest, continued.

Week of 25 February

27 Feb. TU. Class 14. Studying forests: the scientific method and experimental design. Case study: Preservation of a forested national park (Video: On the Edge).
01 Mar. TH. Class 15. Exam.

Week of 3 March 05–09 Mar. MO–FR. Spring Break.

Week of 11 March

12 Mar. MO. Classes resume.
13 Mar. TU. Class 16. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Units 1 and 2. Students will pick topics for their discussion leading. Instructors will help students prepare for discussions. The readings will be popular-style articles from scientific periodicals (e.g., Nature and Science). Unit topics include forest conservation, fires, and logging; invasive species; wildlife use by Humans; global change and forests; and special forests and forest organisms. Biodiversity hike (selected organisms).
15 Mar. TH. Class 17. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 3.

Week of 18 March

20 Mar. TU. Class 18. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 4 and 5. Biodiversity hike (selected organisms).
22 Mar. TH. Class 19. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 6.

Week of 25 March

27 Mar. TU. Class 20. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 7 and 8. Biodiversity hike (selected organisms).
29 Mar. TH. Class 21. Exam.

Week of 1 April

03 Apr. TU. Class 22. Case study: forest plant-animal interactions, co-evolution of Spring Beauties and their pollinators (including a forest hike to examine the system)
05–09 Apr. TH–MO. Easter break.

Week of 8 April

10 Apr. TU. Classes resume. Class 23. Case study: Ants and competition in forests (including a forest hike to examine the system)
12 Apr. TH. Class 24. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 9.

Week of 15 April

17 Apr. TU. Class 25. Case studies: tree habitat preference and invasive species (including a forest hike)
19 Apr. TH. Class 26. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 10.

Week of 22 April

24 Apr. TU. Class 27. Selected topics (student-led discussion). Unit 11 and 12. Biodiversity hike (selected organisms).
26 Apr. TH. Class 28. Course summary. Course evaluation.

Week of 28 April

30 Apr. MO. Classes end.
04–12 May FR–SA. Exam period. Final exam during the exam period. You will have four exams in this course, and you may drop your lowest exam score.


Students will have at least 2 individual conferences with course instructors.

X. Readings. Required readings include parts of 4 ecological chapters from a general biology text, chapters from 2 classic forest books, pages from a tree book, chapters from a new book about local nature, and popular-style scientific articles.

Barrows, Edward M. 2006. Nature, Gardens, and Georgetown. Premier Edition. Xylocopa Press, Bethesda, MD. 112 pp. (Chapters: 1. Why?, 2. Forests, 5. Glover Archbold Park, 6. The College Walks, 7. Trees, 9. Birds, 10. Bees, 11. Other Large Animals) (You’ll need to buy this book.)

Bates, Marston. 1960. The Forest and the Sea. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY. 277 pp. (Chapter 16. Man’s Place in Nature)

Caufield, Catherine. 1984. In the Rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 305 pp. (Chapters: 2. In the Beginning, 3. Layers, 6. Cattle in the Clouds)

Campbell, Neil A. and Jane B. Reece. 2005. Biology. 7th Edition. (Parts of 4 chapters on ecology, book on reserve, Blommer Library, Reiss, third floor)

Rushforth, Keith, and Charles Hollis. 2006. National Geographic Field Guide to the Trees of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 263 pp. (Includes native and exotic species, a key to genera, illustrations of warm- and cold-season conditions, etc.) (You’ll need to buy this book.)

Selected articles (photocopies)

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