Course Details

Course Number: 4684  Spring 2015

Location: Bolin Hall

Classroom Number: 212, 207

Days & Times:

Time and Place of Class Meetings:


            BIOL 4684-201 will be held in Room 212 of Bolin Hall at 8:00-9:20 on Tues, Thurs.

            BIOL 4684-201A (Lab) will be held in Room 207 of Bolin Hall at 2:00-4:50 on Monday.

Course Attachments

SyllabusCourse Information   syllabus-4684 Spring 2015-20150118-224724.pdf


Essentials of Ecology. 3rd edition   ISBN: 978-1-4051-5658-5

Field and Laboratory Methods for General Ecology 4  ISBN: 978-0697-24358-4

Writing Papers in Biological Sciences. 4th editio
  ISBN: 978-0312-44083-1

MSU Faculty Member
Dr. Charles Matthew Watson   
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Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes: 


Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

·         Describe the levels of biological organization.

·         Understand and apply the scientific method.

·         Evaluate experimental results objectively.

·         Understand major ecological hypotheses (ex:  the niche, competitive exclusion, and Tillman’s R.....)

·         Understand the interaction of organisms with their environment (definition of Ecology!).

·         Understand basic principles of evolutionary ecology, population ecology, community ecology, and behavioral ecology.

·         Understand ecological processes such as resource partitioning, invasiveness, extinctions, etc...

·         Describe and recognize adaptations of organisms to their environment.

·         Understand energy flow and nutrient cycling

·         Understand and apply common sampling techniques for biodiversity

·         Understand basic data analysis and presentation

·         Critically evaluate the scientific literature in ecology

·         Have a grownup conversation about Ecology without looking like a total fool.....

Course Expectations



Attend class regularly and participate in discussions.  Show up prepared by reading the text ahead of time.  Sometimes read text that is not assigned. Surprise me with initiative.

Grading Standards

Grading Policy:

Biology 4684 consists of both a lecture and laboratory component.  The following standard scale will be used when reporting your composite grade: 90-100%=A, 80-89%=B, 70-79%=C, 60-69%=D, 0-59%=F.

Final Course Grade = (Lecture Grade x 75%) + (Laboratory Grade x 25%)


Lecture Grade


Your lecture grade will be determined by THREE exams (the last of which is your cumulative final exam), a written report, and a discussion participation grade. Each in-semester exam is worth 50-points and the final will be 100.   The written report is worth 30 points and your discussion participation is worth 20 points.  You are expected to contribute to our weekly class discussion at least once per week.  Particularly insightful points derived from outside reading will be rewarded.  You will have written exams that covers both specific and conceptual questions.   A blue book should be obtained from the bookstore for each exam. 

Final Lecture Grade = (All points earned / 250)


Graduate Students:

Everything above pertains to you with the additional requirement of two short oral presentations of a biographical sketch of a major figure in Ecology (10 points each) and a more extensive term paper which replaces the written report of the undergraduates (80 points).  The term paper will be over a major hypothesis or process in Ecology and will be accompanied by an oral presentation to the class.  Graduate students’ exams may contain different questions than the undergraduates’.

Final Lecture Grade = (All points earned / 300)


Laboratory Grade


Your laboratory grade will be comprised of four data presentation/writing exercises (20 points each), a project proposal (40 points), and participation (100 points).  You will be divided into teams for many exercises and part of your participation grade (50%) will be from anonymous peer reviews by your teammates.  The other 50% is based upon my observations. Weather permitting; there will be a number of field trips to local sites to gather ecological data.  If you do not help gather the data, you cannot do assignments over the data.

Final Laboratory Grade = (All points earned / 220)



(If extra credit is assigned, it will be made available to everyone in the class.)

Submission Format PolicyNote: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance Policy: 

Attendance is required. Exam make-ups are allowed for university sanctioned absences or other circumstances deemed legitimate by Dr. Watson.  If you must miss an EXAM day, contact Dr. Watson prior to the absence.  Field trips that take place during laboratory time are mandatory.  

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.