Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation Biology
Biol 211, College of Charleston
Dr. Allison Welch & Dr. Robert Podolsky
The first law of ecology [and evolution] is that everything is related to everything else. -Barry Commoner
Biologists study the natural world at many levels of a hierarchy. This course focuses on biology at the level of the whole organism and above. What factors help to explain the abundance and distribution of different organisms? How have groups of organisms diverged from one another over time, and what are the evolutionary changes that define major groups? How do basic scientific principles and research aid our ability to conserve biodiversity? During the semester, you will be introduced to three areas of focus: (1) population biology, involving the study of population ecology and evolution; (2) interactions among organisms and their environments at the community, ecosystem and biosphere levels, and (3) biodiversity and the study of how groups of organisms are related by common descent.
Professional biologists rely on understanding theoretical concepts and on using practical skills to test the validity of those concepts. In this sense, biology is as much a way of knowing as it is a body of knowledge. In addition to learning concepts, this semester you will use recitations to develop many of the practical skills used by professionals: exploring, reading, and understanding primary scientific literature; organizing, visualizing and analyzing data; identifying questions and developing experimental approaches to addressing research problems; and presenting scientific information in a written proposal, a scientific poster, and an oral presentation. In the course recitation you will complete three projects, working in small groups but ultimately completing work independently. The recitation is likely the most valuable part of the course to your development as a biologist.
As a hard-working participant in this course, you will come to be able to:
§ describe the processes by which populations increase and decrease in size
§ list and explain the forces that lead to evolutionary change in populations
§ explain how interactions with the physical environment and with other organisms influence populations and communities
§ develop a foundation of knowledge about life’s diversity and the relationships among living organisms
§ apply ecological and evolutionary principles to the conservation of biodiversity
§ apply many of the skills used by professional scientists, including using primary literature, generating scientific questions and posing testable hypotheses, analyzing data to evaluate hypotheses, and developing critical thinking and writing skills
Information for article discussions (lecture and recitation)
CofC Biology home
Please contact me (podolskyr'at'cofc.edu) with comments or corrections and before using any material.