Dr. Martin L. CipolliniForest Ecology Syllabus
Dr. Martin L. CipolliniForest Ecology Syllabus

Forest Ecology Syllabus

Spring, 2015 — BIO 313WI — Section A

Class Syllabus and Information Page
2 hrs. Lecture/4 hrs. Lab/4 credit hours
Lecture: M-W, 12-12:50 pm, MAC 111  
Lab: W, 1-5 pm, MAC 111
Instructor: Email address: Office: Office Hours:
Martin L. Cipollini mcipollini@berry.edu McAllister 364 B M-W-F 9-10 am; T-H 10 am – 1 pm, by appointment please


Purpose: Population, community, and ecosystem analysis of temperate forests.  Emphasis is on the ecology of forest plants, field study techniques, and data analysis.  Laboratories involve an extended field research project focusing on longleaf pines on the Berry Campus.
Goals: To provide you with a basic background in terrestrial forest ecology, including an understanding of past and current issues in plant ecology, as well as methods of data collection, analysis, and presentation. Emphasis will be placed on fire ecology, plant/animal interactions, reproductive ecology, global climate change, biodiversity, and conservation issues.  The field aspect of the course will center on the Berry College Longleaf Management Project (www.berrylongleaf.com), a long-term, student-initiated project focusing on restoration of an threatened ecosystem (Mountain Longleaf Ecosystem) on the Berry campus.  This focus provides you an opportunity to contribute in a real way to the research, education, conservation, and management goals of the project.

Methods of Instruction: This course will be taught via a combination of lecture based upon the assigned text, classroom discussions, audio-visual presentations, assigned readings, group review sessions, and a group field project. Summaries of lecture notes will be provided to you by this website.

Attendance Policy: Attendance is mandatory. Late assignments will not be accepted unless arrangements are made with me prior to the due date for the assignment. Generally, only personal medical and family emergency excuses are accepted.

Evaluation and grading:

Learning Summaries: 3 @ 100 pts. each = 300 pts.

Term paper: First draft (Introduction, Materials and Methods only):  1 @ 50 pts. = 50 pts.

Peer Review 1: 1 @ 25 pts. = 25 pts.

Term paper: Second draft (Revise Introduction, Methods and Materials, Add Results, Conclusions): 1 @ 50 pts. = 50 pts.

Peer Review 2: 1 @ 25 pts. = 25 pts.

Term Paper: Final draft (Revise Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results, Conclusions, add Title, Abstract, Acknowledgements, References Cited, Tables, Figures):

1 @ 100 pts. = 100 pts.

Field Study Participation: 5 field/data analysis days @ 10 pts. = 50 pts.

Field Trip: 25 pts.

Total points = 625 pts.

A <= 90%; B 80 – 89%; C 70-79%; D 60-60%; F < 60% (no curving)

Extra credit: 1 bonus points for each attendance of the Biology Seminar Series (usually Tuesdays at 11 am in the Science Auditorium).   Students unable to attend a given seminar for officially excused reasons must inform me in advance in order to be given an equivalent assignment.  I will also schedule some Longleaf Project Volunteer Activities during the semester.  Students may gain 5 bonus points for participating in this activity.  Students unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts will be given equivalent opportunities for these bonus points. Total bonus points cannot exceed 2% of final total points or 12 points for the semester.

Required Lecture text: Terrestrial Plant Ecology. Barbour, et al. 1998. Benjamin/Cummings. (3rd edition recommended)


Scheduling of Lecture and Lab Time.  Due to constraints placed upon us by the season and weather, we will have lectures during lab time during the first half of the semester.  As a result, you will need to do a lot of reading and studying of lecture text material in the first half of the course.  All three lecture “exams” (learning summaries) will be given in the first half of the course.  This “front-loading” of the lecture material also better prepares you for understanding the nuances of the group field project.  The latter half of the course will be devoted to planning our group study, doing the necessary supporting reading and library work, carrying out the field work, entering, summarizing and analyzing the data, interpreting the results, doing peer review in class, and preparing the final project reports.

Evaluation via Learning Summaries.  To evaluate lecture learning, I use the “learning summary” approach, rather than in-class exams. Most of the points this semester (300/500 total points) will come through learning summaries. Normally, these will be four-page (12 pt. Times New Roman type, single-spaced) answers to questions posed after each learning module. Each lecture summary will be worth up to 100 pts.  These are take-home written assignments that either ask you to summarize key concepts that have been learned, to discuss in greater detail specific subject areas, or to access the current literature for key up-to-date information. It will be your job to convince me in four pages that you know the material that you have been asked to summarize. If your learning summary is nothing more than “cleaned up” lecture notes, you will receive 75 pts. (a mid C), which everyone should be able to do.  Extra points up to the total of 100 will come when you are able to synthesize your learning and convince me that you have a full understanding of the material. Only well-written and otherwise outstanding learning summaries will earn more than 90 pts. (an A); these will usually be expected to include material from the text and/or other outside resources. In some cases, I may ask you personally to answer a few questions about your lecture summary to verify that you know the material and that you wrote it yourself. Incomplete and/or late assignments will be given less than 75 pts. There will be no lecture exams in this course; the lecture summaries are similar to open-book exams.  The exact nature of each lecture summary will be given to you in writing prior to each due date.  Because this is a Writing-Across-the-Curriculum (WI) course, all assignments will be graded for grammar, logic, and syntax.

The Group Field Project.  The latter half of the semester will be devoted almost exclusively to field and laboratory work, and to your term paper. Our goal is to design a field study and to carry out these studies as a group. Using the Berry Longleaf Management Plan as a starting point, we will plan the study, collect the data, enter, summarize, and analyze the data, and create graphs and figures. Each of you will then independently write a research paper based upon this study. You will be evaluated on a first draft of this paper (50 pts). After peer review and revision, you will turn in a second draft (50 pts.).  After a second round of peer review and revision, you will turn in a final draft (100 pts.).  During peer review, you will be evaluated on your editing of another student’s paper (each peer review of another student’s paper will be worth 25 pts.).
During this phase of the course, I will expect you to know how to use these computer programs: Excel (or similar spreadsheet program for data entry, summarization, graphing, and simple statistics), MS-Word (or a similar word processor for writing and editing), Internet Explorer (or similar web browser for access to information on the World Wide Web). I will also expect you to know how to find and retrieve information from the primary ecological literature using Berry library resources.  All students are required to obtain and access a Berry College e-mail account. I will teach you how to use additonal programs such as Statistix, SPSS and/or MatLab for data analysis, as necessary.

The Weekend Field Trip.  We will take a single or multiple day field trip related to the restoration of Longleaf Pine ecosystems.  The exact location and date(s) of the trip will be determined early in the semester via group consensus. Participation on this field trip is worth 25 pts.  Those unable to attend will be given an equivalent opportunity to earn these points.

Accommodation Statement: Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Academic Support Center as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.

Tutoring Availability: Students who believe they may need tutoring in this class are encouraged to contact me as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made with the Academic Support Center to provide a tutor in a timely manner.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the foundation of college life and experience at Berry. All members of the Berry College community are responsible for working together to establish and uphold an environment conductive to honorable academic endeavor.

In no case will academic dishonesty be tolerated. A complete definition of “academic dishonesty” may be found in the Viking Code. In the event a faculty member suspects that an instance of academic dishonesty, the faculty member should:

1) Discuss the suspected infraction directly with the student(s) involved. At the faculty member’s or student’s discretion, the school dean, department chair or a faculty colleague may be present during this discussion as a witness.

2) Make copies of relevant materials before returning them to the student(s) for any approved amendment or revision.

3) Discuss the suspected infraction and the documented evidence with the department chair, dean or a colleague if collegial advice is desired. An all such cases, the privacy of the student(s) involved must be protected.

4) Make a decision based on the evidence and determine appropriate sanctions; sanctions may include warning the student, or reducing an assignment, exam, or course grade; if sanctions are imposed, discuss these and the appeals process with the student.

5) If a student is found to have violated academic integrity policy, notify the Provost (or Associate Provost) in writing. This document should include: information about the course, the faculty involved, and the student(s) involved; the time and date of the incident, and a description of the incident and any evidence that indicates an infraction of academic integrity; any sanctions imposed by the faculty member in response to this incident; and a confirmation that the faculty member has discussed with the student the incident, any sanctions imposed, and the student’s right to appeal the faculty member’s decision.

Students sanctioned for violating academic integrity policy may not withdraw from the class with a “W”. Students may appeal faculty decisions to a subcommittee of Academic Council through the provost.