GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY AND THE BIOLOGY OF CONSERVATION
Syllabus AssignmentsUFIs (Useful Flyers of Information for students)
Office: OlinRice 219; 651-696-6102 Macalester College
Office Hours M: 2:00-3:30 p.m.
W: 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Biology 15-01 (Global Biodiversity and the Biology of Conservation)
explores the reasons behind the alarming loss of biodiversity occurring
throughout the world today. The implications of this loss and the
efforts underway to reduce the rate of loss will be main topics of the
course. Students will be introduced to the different types of
including genetic diversity, species diversity, and habitat
The underlying ecological processes involved in extinctions will be
but the role of human values, politics, and economic development in the
loss of biodiversity will be examined as well. Principles will be
illustrated through case studies of both extinctions and recovery
occurring in different parts of the world.
REQUIREMENTS SATISFIED: This course satisfies the
Diversity Requirement, and fulfills 4 credit hours of the Natural
Requirement. This course cannot be counted toward a major or core in
LECTURES: MWF 10:50-11:50
TEXTS: Essentials of Conservation Biology, Primack.
Plus readings to be assigned.
WRITING, EXAMINATIONS, AND GRADING: There will be three
exams, two during the term and a final. All exams will be worth
points. Toward the end of the term, students will begin working
a final paper (100 points) focusing on ecological issues that must be
when developing a biodiversity reserve. This paper will involve a
revision. In addition, students will write several memos to one
on topics raised in the course. Students will be graded on the
of their performance on exams (65%), the quality of their paper (30%),
and their participation in class discussions and memo writing
Note: if there is any student in this class who has need for
or note-taking accommodation, please feel free to come and discuss this
Date, Topic, Reading (pages in Primack)
January 27 Introduction: Definitions and Global Patterns of
PART I. THE BIOLOGY OF PERSISTENCE AND EXTINCTION
29 Genes, Natural Selection, and Evolution 39-42
31 Genes, Natural Selection, and Evolution (cont)
February 3 Species and Speciation 27-39
5 Growth and Regulation of Populations 297-356
7 DISCUSSION (Memos Due)
10 The Ecology of Communities of Species 42-57
12 Coevolution and Mutual Dependence of Species
14 The Ecology of Ecosystems 57-58
17 Biological Diversity and Islands 174-183
19 DISCUSSION (Memos Due)
21 Biodiversity: Local and Regional Processes
24 Biology of Rarity and Extinction: Past and Present 159-174, 183-212
26 Rarity and Extinction: Past and Present (cont)
28 EXAM #1
PART II. THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY
March 3 Land and Biodiversity Use by Resident Peoples
5 Impact of Development and Climate Change 213-263
7 Impact of Development and Climate Change (cont)
12 Introduced Species 276-294
10 DISCUSSION (Memos Due)
14 The Role of Values 265-276
24 Effects of War
PART III. EFFORTS TO PRESERVE BIODIVERSITY
26 The Value of Biodiversity 85-155
28 Protected Parks and Reserves 413-498
31 The Role of Zoos, Botanical Gardens, and Gene Banks 377-412
2 Restoration Ecology 357-376, 525-545
4 DISCUSSION (Memos Due)
7 Linking Societies and Conservation 499-524, 549-621
9 EXAM #2
11 Latin America
PART IV. REGIONAL CASE STUDIES OF EXTINCTIONS AND RECOVERY EFFORTS
18 No Class
21 Video (The Forest Through the Trees)
23 Review of First Drafts of Final Paper
25 DISCUSSION (Memos Due)
30 Antarctica and Marine Environments
May 2 North America
5 Biodiversity: Prospects for the Future 623-637
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Point of View Essay Final Paper
POINT OF VIEW
It is clear that in order to save some species from extinction, extraordinary steps must be taken. These have included such actions as removing all individuals from the wild and placing them in captivity until the population and habitat have stabilized to permit reintroduction, tagging or radio-collaring all or most individuals living in a surviving population for ongoing monitoring, periodically transporting some individuals between populations in order to prevent inbreeding, managing of the habitat to ensure that food and living space are always available, and eliminating other species from the habitat that threaten the survival of the target species. In many instances, these steps have proved effective in saving species from extinction. However, these measures are usually quite expensive and obviously involve considerable human manipulation of the species and its environment. Are these efforts worth it?
Assignment: Write a 3-400 word editorial that could be published in a local newspaper in which you argue either for or against such extraordinary efforts to preserve biodiversity. In writing your essay, you will need to decide whether you categorically support or oppose such efforts or whether you support such efforts under certain circumstances but not others. Whichever approach you take, you will need to develop a rationale for your point of view. In addition, you should provide one or more examples to support your case.
Evaluation: You will receive feedback from two sources, Professor Davis and a group of your classmates. Each of you will read the editorials of approximately seven of your classmates, evaluating them using a numerical rating system accompanied by comments. The numerical rating system is described below.
5 A first rate editorial; contains a clear thesis statement; the rationale is very well developed; the supportive examples advance the writer's position; the editorial is very well written mechanically; essentially the piece is of publishable quality.
4 Very nice job; most elements of the piece were well done, although one or more could use some improvement. Although not of publishable quality at the moment, this piece could probably be easily revised to become so.
3 Satisfactory piece; the goals of the assignment were basically accomplished, but either most aspects of the editorial need some improvement, or one of the aspects is missing or very poorly done.
2 Effort exceeded results. The author clearly made an effort to do the assignment, but for a variety of reasons, the editorial was not effective, i.e., two or more of the key aspects of the paper are missing or very poorly done.
1 Unsatisfactory. It seems obvious that little thought and effort went into this piece which is inadequate in most aspects.
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The Creation of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Objective: to demonstrate that you understand basic ecological theory and can apply this theory to the practical issue of establishing a biological reserve.
Background: In many cases, nature preserves or national parks have been designed expressly to preserve natural communities. In this case, residents typically are not permitted to live in the protected area and their access to the reserve was either strictly prohibited or severely restricted. During the 1970s, the concept of Biosphere Reserves was developed as an alternative approach. These were to be reserves that incorporated resident peoples and their activities in a sustainable way. The aim was to create reserves that met key conservation roles--maintenance of genetic, species, and ecoystem diversity over time, along with key development goals, including support and establishment of subsistence and economic activities by resident peoples that were consistent with the conservation goals. The ultimate goal was to create Biosphere Reserves in all 193 distinct biogeographic regions on earth. Today, nearly 300 of these reserves have been created.
In the mid 1980s, a presidential decree created a new Biosphere Reserve along the coast in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The reserve was roughly rectangular, about 40 miles long along the coast and extending about 25 miles inland. This reserve, totalling 528,147 hectares (equivalent to more than 1000 square miles), was created in an effort to preserve the diverse natural communities found in this part of the Yucutan. These included primary tropical forests, secondary growth forests, shrubland and dune areas, freshwater lagoons and sinkholes, coral reefs, and marine bays lined with mangroves. The name of the reserve is Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. The word Sian Ka'an is derived from the Mayan language and means "where the sky is born". At the time of the decree, about 800 residents, many of them Mayan, lived in the area designated to be the reserve. The vast majority of the residents lived in the coastal areas where fishing and lobster harvesting were major sources of food and income.
The presidential decree was just the first step in the creation of a reserve that actually fulfilled the stated goals of Biosphere Reserves. The hard work involved the design and implementation of the reserve.
The Assignment: Although it is true that each biosphere reserve is unique, it is also true that there exist some common issues that need to be addressed in all reserves. These include issues involving genetics, plant and animal populations, natural communities and ecosystems and the impact of human activities on these systems. Your assignment is to imagine that you are a conservation biologist who has been hired by the government of Mexico as a consultant to advise the planning of this reserve. Specifically, you have been asked to produce a document that identifies six key ecological concerns that must be satisfactorily addressed if the reserve is to meet its conservation and development goals. In addition, you need to suggest ways that these concerns might be met during the design and implementation of the reserve.
Your document should consist of a brief introductory paragraph followed by the identification of the six ecological concerns that you believe are most pressing. Each concern should be followed by a rationale, in which you explain the nature and implications of the concern, and some advice as to how to proceed with the design and implementation of the preserve so as to best meet the concern.
Length: approximately 2000 words
Due Date: Last day of class.
Evaluation: Your document will be evaluated on how well you were able to apply a variety of ecological ideas and theories from the course (e.g., ideas related to genetics, dynamics of population growth and decline, interactions in biological communities, and flows of nutrients in ecosystems) to the specific task of trying to integrate biological protection with the maintenance of a local human population and economy. The degree to which your analysis and recommendations reflect an understanding of basic ecological theory and practical issues of conservation biology will be the primary basis for the evaluation.
Sources of Information: This is not a research paper. Your information and perspective should come from the lectures, text book, outside readings, videos, memos and class discussions. You do not need to provide a bibliography for this paper. This is not an exam! While each student needs to write up their own paper, feel free to talk over ideas with other members of the class.
EXAMPLE: Ecological Concern #X: Preventing the pollution and eutrophication of fresh water systems. It is very important to prevent the pollution and eutrophication of fresh water ecosystems because...... Pollution and eutrophication could occur if ....... Pollution and eutrophication can be prevented by ......
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