Summer Session Biology 230 for May/June 2018 – timing details and course information

Because the information provided on the SSC about dates and activities for this course can be a bit unclear, I am posting this outline of what the course involves to aid your planning.

Daily lectures, all MWF 10:00-11:50AM from 14 May through 20 June. You are required to possess an iClicker device (or a smartphone which can emulate one using REEF) for questions raised in class; clicker-marks – participation – sum to a few percent of your course grade. Note that the device must be Canvas-registered, if you haven’t had a Canvas course yet.

The lecture part of the course is divided into four main topics, or “big questions”, each of which requires 3-4 lecture-periods to cover. Before these topics begin there is introductory material on the first day or so; in an early lecture I will also insert an Activity on experimental design. The topics are as follows (and may be expressed in a variety of ways):

What determines the number of species in a community?

Why don’t populations increase infinitely?

Why are there so many more plants than animals?

Are human activities impairing ecosystem function?

You can expect frequent discussions during the lectures, to permit you to understand material better and to build collegiality – this will be helpful for your learning generally, and also for your work in labs and tutorials (see below).

Textbook: we will use Bowman et al. 2017. Ecology, 4th ed. Sinauer. If you choose to use an earlier edition (2014, 2011) from a friend or local seller, you will find many differences in figures, examples, etc., so any money you may save may be offset by inconvenience! I will provide reading-equivalencies for the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd editions. Be advised that Biology 306 also requires Bowman et al., so if you intend to enrol in 306 in September it may be worthwhile purchasing a 4th edition.

Weekly Canvas-quizzes based on text reading. In Winter there are about 10 assignments, but in Summer there will be only half as many… so they have to be twice as large! Seriously, because each quiz is composed mainly of a few multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions, the quiz workload is quite manageable; it’s the reading that will challenge your available time. If you are keen to get a head start, here is the required reading for the first few lectures:

Topic(s) – 4/e Chapter (pp.)
Biogeography – 18 (400-420)
Distribution – 9 (205-216)
Community structure – 19 (425-442)
Competition – 14 (318-326, 329-32)
Community function – 16 (357-373)

Quizzes will be automatically scored, and sum to a few percent of your course grade.

A Canvas Excel Activity, to prepare you for what you’ll be asked to do in the field lab assignment. You will download and analyze a data-set, then answer a few questions and submit graphs online. Our TA will be available one afternoon to assist you at an office-hour period (probably Fri 19 May, details TBA); the deadline to submit your work on line will be Sun 21 May.

A field lab. All lab sections run 1:30-4:30PM; due to the brevity of the Summer course, there is only one field lab (in Winter, three are required). We cannot take the full class out on a single day, so there are three days (sections). Each student goes to the field ONCE (see timing-note below) – therefore if our total enrolment is 48, there will be about 16 students per field-lab section.

Data collected in the field will be uploaded to a dedicated data-site for sharing; you download the set, analyze it, and complete the written assignment for submission on Fri 15 June. A detailed lab Manual, the assignment, and other supporting material will be posted. The Excel activity and the field-lab assignment together account for about 15% of the course grade.

Two tutorials. We used to have tutorials in the Winter session, but they were replaced by field labs; in Summer we have time for only one field lab, but time enough remains for discussion-tutorials, which allow you to address course material in a way different from lecture work.
You register in a section that meets at the same time/day in two consecutive weeks (see timing note below); there are 6 timeslots (1:30 and 3:00PM, MWF), so if our enrolment is 48 I anticipate six sections of 8 students each; each student attends two sessions, one for Topic 1 and one for Topic 2. [Note that if some section-enrolments are low, we may “compress” students into just one section per day for convenience – TBA when we see the final counts.]
All meetings in the first week of tutorials will be a discussion of questions arising from a journal article (30 May-4 June inclusive); the second week of tutorials will be discussion based on a conceptual ecological public-policy topic (6-11 June inclusive).
Evaluation of tutorial work is discussion-only: no written submission. A supporting instruction-document with topics, questions, and advice will be posted. Tutorials account for about 15% of the course grade.

Lab/Tutorial Timing notes:  Because of the Mon holiday (21 May), timing for labs and tutorials looks a bit odd. We are required to label sections in a Monday-Friday sequence, no matter which section happens first on a calendar! Field labs cannot occur too early in the course (wk.1), but cannot start too late (wk.3); therefore they begin on the Wednesday of week 2 (23 May), and finish on the Monday of week 3 (28 May, thus the sequence – L02, L03, L01).
Tutorial sections cannot overlap with the schedule of lab sections, so they follow a similar sequence starting one week after the labs: T02 (1:30) and T05 (3:00) meet for Topic 1 on Wed 30 May, then T03 (1:30) and T06 (3:00) on Fri 1 June, and T01 (1:30) and T04 (3:00) on Mon 4 June. This pattern repeats exactly one week later for Topic 2 sessions over the period Wed 6 June-Mon 11 June.
You are strongly advised to enter your meetings on your own calendar to keep track.

Examination: there is only one, the final, because we cannot afford to lose a lecture-day running a midterm, and the length of the course is short enough that you will be able to integrate all material cumulatively for a single exam. In Summer session the exam period is the week following the end of lectures, so this year it will be 25-29 June.
All lecture material will be fair game for the exam. You will be provided with a sample-set of questions of the same scope as the exam itself, and I will offer review periods each afternoon Mon 18, Wed 20, and Fri 22 June as “office-hours” so you can discuss issues. [If the final exam is set for late in the exam-week, I will also offer time that week.] The final exam will be worth about 50% of the course grade; as a comparison, exams in the Winter session account for more than 70% of the total course grade.

If there are any topics not covered sufficiently in this posting, please email me to ask about them. W

Moving done!

I’m now in place in Wesbrook (rm.20, basement-level on the side of the building facing East Mall; also sometimes to be found in rms. 12, 16, and 24 for various reasons!). My phone number and email address remain the same as shown in the header of my homepage. My (paper) mailing address – shown in the About Wayne tab – is also unchanged.
[ Historic notes of interest – Frank F. Wesbrook MD, pictured below with a recent view of his eponymous building, was the first President of the University. The Faculty of Medicine was established in 1950, and in 1952 its first real home was this brand new building, fittingly named to commemorate Wesbrook (who had died in 1918). It’s an honour to have the chance to spend time in a building so closely connected with one of UBC’s founders.

I hope many readers of this post will have the chance to visit me – my office is full of postcards from travelling students too! (left)