BIOL 4120                                                                                   Spring 2010


Principles of Ecology



Dafeng Hui, Ph.D.

Office: Harned Hall 320

Phone: 963- 5777



This web site:


Office hours: MWF 11:30 am - 2:30 pm; T Th 9:00-2:30 pm; or by appointment

Prerequisites: BIOL111 & 112 (Intro to Biology I and II), BIOL212 (Genetics), BIOL211 (Cell Biology)

Textbook:  (New textbook for Fall 2010) The Economy of Nature, 6th Edition, Robert E. Ricklefs, 2008. Freeman & Company, W.H., ISBN: 0716786974/9780716786979

                (previous textbook) Elements of Ecology, 6th ed., Smith, T. H. and Smith, R. L. 2006. Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, Inc. ISBN10: 0805348301, ISBN13: 9780805348309.

Lab textbook: Ecology on Campus, 1st ed., Kingsolver, Robert. 2006. Person/Benjamin Cummings, Inc. ISBN10: 0805382143, ISBN13: 9780805382143.


Class Times/Places:







10:20 - 11:15 AM

202 Harned Hall



1:00-4:00 PM

212 Harned Hall



1:00-4:00 PM

212Harned Hall



Course Description:


Credit Hours:  4 credit hours

Catalog Description. Fundamental ecological principles with special reference to levels of organization, population and community properties, structural adaptation, functional adjustments, and other factors affecting the distribution of organisms.

Course Objectives: This course is designed to present an introduction to current theories and practices in ecology. Students are introduced 1) to the various questions (in a broad sense) asked by ecologists, 2) to the ideas (theories, models) from which hypotheses are suggested to answer the questions, and 3) to the ways in which ecologists go about gathering data to refute or support the proposed hypotheses.


This course is intended for the collegiate senior year. Thus, you have had extensive experience in taking and successfully completing college courses. With this assumption, material is presented in three ways, with considerable overlap. The primary source for you is the textbook. Your second source of information is lecture, which is supplemented with material on the website from Dr. Hui ( Dr. Ganter also has a very informative website at


Not all of the information in the text can be presented in lecture but you are responsible for all of the information in the text and anything added in lecture. The lectures are intended to give an overview of the material and cover material from the book that bears repetition and close reading: complex ideas and mathematical formalizations of ecological ideas and hypotheses.


Assignments (including laboratory exercises and the optional paper) should be turned in through email (Please do NOT use Dr. Hui’s mytsu email account, use For lab assignments, please email to


Laboratory Attendance:  Attendance is required at both lecture and laboratory.  If you miss a laboratory and do not have a doctor's or other approved excuse (approved at the discretion of the laboratory instructor), the assignment for that laboratory will receive a grade of 0.  Since there are fewer than ten assignments, a 0 is a very significant penalty and should be avoided.  Attendance during laboratory periods where presentations are given is also mandatory and penalties will accompany unexcused absences.


There is a penalty for unexcused lecture absence. Your total grade will be reduced by 0.5 point for each absence you have.


Grading:  Four period-long examinations during laboratory classes on the days noted in the laboratory schedule and one comprehensive final. Examinations will cover only the material covered since the previous examination and will be in objective/essay/problem format except the final, which will be comprehensive and will stress terminology.


In addition to examinations and the final, there will be a presentation on a subject chosen by the student and approved by the instructor. Presentations will be given at the end of the semester during laboratory meetings. It is advisable to use Microsoft PowerPoint or another presentation authoring program.


This is also an optional written assignment. It must be turned in by the end of the 12th week of the semester (see schedule below). This paper will be no more than two typed, single-spaced pages long but must be a well-organized essay that explains the science behind a current environmental or ecological issue. For this assignment, you need to cite at least two (2) referred publications. Other requirements are same as these for the paper summary above. The grade on the paper will be substituted for an examination grade (exclusive of the final examination).


Extra-point opportunities will be provided, including quiz, video review and paper summary. One summary of a research ecological paper is suggested. The summary should be one page in length, including the rationale of the study, hypotheses generated or questions addressed in the paper, the method used, major conclusions and the implication of the study. Citation should be listed. These points will be added to your exams.


Laboratory assignments will be described during the laboratory periods and are due on the dates listed in the laboratory schedule. There is a penalty of three points for each day that a lab is past due. Up to 10% of a lab grade will be optionally (at the discretion of the lab instructor) may be determined on the day on which the laboratory assignment is due.


       All dates for both homework and lecture examinations are subject to change but this will be announced in class. The overall grade for the course will be based on the standard TSU point-to-grade scale. The distribution of points is:














Policy on plagiarism and cheating: Cheating on exams or plagiarizing on a paper will result in a 0 grade for that exam or paper. The Department Chair and Dean will be informed of the occurrence. To plagiarize is 1. to appropriate and pass off as one's own (the writings, ideas, etc., of another). 2. To appropriate and use passages, ideas, etc. from another's text or product (Funk and Wagnells Standard Dictionary of the English Language, 1965). All papers will be kept by the instructor.


Accommodating those with disabilities:

The Biology Department, in conjunction with the Office of Disabled Student Services, makes reasonable accommodation for qualified students with medically documented disabilities. If you need an accommodation, please contact Dan Steely of TSU's Disabled Student Services Office at 963-7400 (phone) or 963-5051 (fax), preferably in the first week of class.






Schedule of Lectures and Reading: (To be updated)






Lecture Notes


Notes from Dr. Ganter’s web




Ecology as a Science

Lecture 1

Chapter 1

Science of Ecology

Note 1




The Ecology-Evolution Interface

The Physical Environment

Lecture 2

Lecture 3-1

Lecture 3-2

Chapters  2, & 3

Human genetic diversity

Note 2

Note 3




The Physical Environment

The Aquatic Environment

Lecture 3

Lecture 4

Chapters 3 & 4

Note 4




The Terrestrial Environment

Plant Adaptations

Lecture 5

Lecture 6

Chapters 5 & 6

Photosynthesis Paper<New>

Note 5

Note 6




Animal Adaptations

Life History

Lecture 7 Lecture 8

Chapters 7 & 8

Water Crisis

Note 7

Note 8




Population Characteristics

Population Growth

Lecture 9


Lecture 10

Chapters 9 & 10

Video (Invasive species)


Populus website

Note 9

Note 10




Population Regulation

Lecture 11


Chapters 11 & 12

Logistic model


Note 11

Note 12




Interspecific Competition

Lecture 12

Chapter 13

Note 13




Spring Break







Predation and Herbivory

Lecture 13

Chapter 14

Paper reading

Note 14




Mutualism and Parasitism

Lecture 14

Chapter 15

Note 15




Community Ecology

Lecture 15

Lecture 16

Lecture 17


Papers for Discussion (PPT slides),

Monday, Nov.2

Paper 1, Paper 2

Chapters 16 &17

Chapter 18

Note 16

Note 17




Ecosystems Ecology

Landscape Ecology

Lecture 18

Lecture 19


Chapters 20, 21 & 22

Chapter 19

Phosphate crisis

An Inconvenient Truth

Note 18

Note 19




Biogeographical Ecology

Lecture 20

Lecture 21

Chapters 23

Chapter 24 & 25


Note 20





Diversity Patterns

Human Ecology

Lecture 22


Chapter 26

Chapters 27 & 28

Note 21





Human Ecology

Exam 4

Lecture 22

 Review Guide

Chapter 29




Final Exam (10:20am)











Final Examination is comprehensive



Schedule of Laboratories


Tuesday / Thursday, 1pm – 4pm

Harned Hall Room 212


Instructor: Jennifer Cartwright, PhD student in Biology



Lab manual: Ecology on Campus, 1st ed., Kingsolver, Robert. 2006. Person/Benjamin Cummings, Inc. ISBN10: 0805382143, ISBN13: 9780805382143.




Please order a copy of the lab manual now if you have not already done so. If it is not available in the TSU bookstore, please go online from several different retailers (try searching by ISBN number). You will need this lab manual for next week’s lab and will be using it throughout the semester. If you purchase a used book, be sure it does not have markings on the pages.


Lab preparation:


You are expected to come to each lab prepared for that day’s experiment, having read the introductory material for that chapter (page numbers are listed in the Lab Schedule for reference). Please bring a calculator to all labs, along with your lab manual and a pencil.


Lab attendance:


You are expected to attend all scheduled labs. If you miss a lab, you will need to provide me with a written excuse (medical or academic, etc) in order to make up that lab. At the end of the semester, during the first week of student presentations (December 1 & 3) I will stay late to accommodate any students who need to perform a make-up lab. This make-up period only takes the place of one make-up lab: if you have more than one excused absence from lab during the semester, you will need to see me to arrange additional make-up lab time. Unexcused absences from lab will count as a zero.


During lab time, you need to be focused on your work. Please do not use cell phones or text messaging during lab. Students who are not focused on lab work (i.e. text messaging, etc.) may be asked to leave and given a zero for that lab grade.


For your safety, do not bring any food or drink into the lab.


Lab reports:


In each lab period, you will be entering data directly into your lab manual. When you finish the experimental portion of the lab, you will complete the calculations and questions in your lab manual on your own time, and turn in the completed lab the following week. You must write your name on the lab and staple it before turning it in. Any lab reports not submitted on the day they are due (one week after the day the lab was performed) will be considered late. Late labs may be submitted the following week (one week late) for a deduction of 15 points. Late labs will not be accepted more than one week after the due date. Failure to turn in a lab report will result in a zero for that report.




Throughout the semester, you will take short quizzes (4 or 5 questions) on the material covered in the previous week’s lab. Quiz questions will be directly based on the reading material for the previous week’s lab and will focus on the most important concepts of the lab. To preclude cheating, Thursday lab students will receive slightly different quiz questions than Tuesday lab students. Quizzes will be administered at the very beginning of lab period, so please be on time. If you miss a quiz with an excused absence (see above) then you can make up that quiz by submitting a 2 page, single spaced summary (in your own words!) of the appropriate chapter in your lab manual, including brief definitions of all key terms. This summary is due the week after the quiz you missed. Quizzes missed because of unexcused absence will be graded as zero.


Video Summary:


Two weeks this semester are interrupted by vacations: Fall Break (no Tues lab on October 20th) and Thanksgiving (no Thursday lab on November 26th). However, Thursday lab will meet on October 22nd and Tuesday lab will meet on November 24th. In these two lab periods we will watch a documentary video related to field ecology. Your assignment for this video lab is to write a 1 page, double-spaced summary of the concepts explored in the video. Tuesday lab video summaries are due December 1st and Thursday lab video summaries are due October 29th (see Lab Schedule).




Your final grade in this lab class counts as 25% of your final grade in the Principles of Ecology class. Student presentations at the end of the semester count for an additional 10% of your final class grade. Your lab grade will be determined by:


Lab attendance           25%

Lab reports                  50%

Quizzes                       20%

Video summary             5%



Lab Schedule


Lab Dates Tues / Thurs

Textbook chapters

Lab Topic

Kingsolver Lab Manual Chapter

Quiz / Assignment due

Jan 19 / 21


Intro, expectations, syllabus



Jan 26 / 28


Describing a Population, p. 1

Files 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

1B: Needle length in conifers, p. 12


Feb 2 / 4


Soils, p. 337

15A: Physical properties of soils, p. 347

Describing a Population lab due, quiz over Describing a Population (Chapter 1)

Feb 9 / 11


Finish Soils


Exam 1 Review Guide

Sample example

15A continued

Quiz over Soils (Chapter 15)

Feb 16/18


Population size estimation, p. 51

3A: Mark-Recapture Simulation, p. 56

Soils lab due

Feb 23 / 25

11, 12

Population Genetics,    p. 131

6A: Population genetics simulation, p. 144

Population size estimation lab due, quiz over population size estimation (Chapter 3)

March 2 / 4


Library use and presentation research (30 min)

exam 2 review guide




Mar 9 / 11


Spring Break



Mar 16 / 18


Predators and Prey,

p. 243

11C: Simulating functional response of a predator,           

p. 267

Population genetics lab due, quiz over population genetics (Chapter 6), Video summary due (Thursday class)

Mar 23 / 25

16, 17, 18

Aquatic Environments, p. 361

TSU wetlands visit & productivity experiment (handout)

Predators and Prey lab due, quiz over predators and prey (Chapter 11)

March 30 / Apr 1

20, 21, 22, 19

Water Quality & Dissolved Oxygen

Water quality

Test kit instruction, DO, Chlorine, Ammonia-N, Nitrate-N, Phosphate

16A: Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature,    

p 369


Quiz over productivity experiment & handout

Apr 6 / 8

23, 24, 25


Exam 3, review Guide



Apr 13 / 15

26, 27, 28

Plant Photosynthesis


Dissolved oxygen lab due, quiz over aquatic environments

(Chapter 16)

April 20 / 22


Student Presentations & make-up lab


Video summary due (Tuesday class)

Optional paper due

April 27 / 29


Student Presentations


Exam 4, Review Guide


Make-up labs due




Other news links


West Africa's last giraffes make surprise comeback,



Previous schedule of Laboratories:





Textbook, Lab book, Link

Lab Assignment Due Dates 


Sec. 01

Sec. 02







Introduction, expectations, syllabus

Chapters 1, 2, & 3





Invertebrate biodiversity

Kingsolver 13B

Chapters 3 & 4.

Sample lab report from Dr. Wallace





Kingsolver 15A

Chapters 5, 6

Biodiversity lab assignment due 




Lecture Exam 1

sample exam , Study Guide

Presentation Topic Choice Due 




Population Size Estimation


Kingsolver 3A

Population Size Estimation  ; Population Size

Chapters 9, 10

Soil lab assignment due




Population Genetics

Kingsolver 6A

Chapters 11, 12

Population Size Estimation due




Library use and Presentation Research (30 minutes)

Lecture Exam 2

Literature Review

Presentation and paper and

Optional Written Assignment Instruction

Study Guide

Population Genetics




Fall break; No Tuesday lab

Thursday lab watches Video






Kingsolver 18C

Chapter 14

Paper summary due 




TSU wetland visit and productivity experiment

 Chapter 15

Niche assignment due




Water quality lab

Kingsolver 16A

Water quality

Test kit instruction, DO, Chlorine, Ammonia-N, Nitrate-N, Phosphate

Chapters 16, 17, 18

Wetland assignment due




Ecological Data analysis

 Link to online data wet sites

1. EcoTrends:

2. LTER:

AmeriFlux network:

4.NEON:, a recent report in Science

Optional Written Assignment due

Water quality Lab due




Lecture Exam 3

 Study Guide

 Evaluation Guide for presentation

 Water quality lab assignment due




No Thursday lab 

Tuesday lab watches video





Student presentations 






Student presentations

Study Guide for Exam 4,

Answers to Exam 4


There will be no final examination for the laboratory portion of the course


Disclaimer and acknowledgement: The instructor reserves the right to change the occurrence, timing and content of lectures, laboratory exercises, and examinations. The policy and current schedule are mostly followed / provided by Dr. Ganter at Tennessee State University. The slides posted here are for students use for the course of Principles of Ecology. Some of these slides are modified from the slides downloaded from websites. I would like to thank these professors, especially Dr. Ganter at TSU, Dr. Ralph Kirby at National Yang-Ming University, Dr. Robert St. Clair at University of Alberta, Dr. Grant Gentry at Tulane University, and Dr. Yan Dong at State University of New York at Oswego. Some lab slides are adopted from Dr. Solomon Dobrowski from UC Davis, Kelly from UK. Figures and tables used in the lecture slides are mostly provided by the Media Manager for the exclusive use by adopters of Elements of Ecology by Smith and Smith, 6th Edition.


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