FANR/ECOL/GEOG 1200 Natural History of Georgia

I developed this course and teach it in Fall semesters. During Spring semester the course is taught by Professor Larry Morris who uses a somewhat different format

Basic Course Syllabus from Fall 2015

Course Description:
This course uses a combined lecture, guest lecture, and project format to introduce you to the ecology, natural habitats and organisms inhabiting Georgia’s landscape. This class is open to both science and non-science majors but it is primarily designed for non-majors who would like to learn about Georgia’s flora and fauna, and the ecological and evolutionary factors affecting their distribution and abundance. Lectures will focus on basic natural history concepts coupled with information on selected native species. Attendance is mandatory and class participation strongly encouraged. Videos will be shown either in class once or via eLC. If you miss lecture you need to obtain notes from a friend. Whenever possible the course will be taught in a Socratic manner to enhance student engagement. Attendance will be taken multiple times during the semester and points awarded accordingly (see below). In addition, you will have a chance to participate in a research project to evaluate the effects of class projects and natural history music videos on learning and retention. The incentive for participating in the research project will be up to 20 extra credit points. Students often complain about how large lecture classes are taught and this is your chance to help improve university teaching.

Course Objectives:
The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the natural habitats of Georgia, the plants and animals that inhabit them, and the conceptual issues affecting their distribution and abundance. In addition, you will be introduced to how science is done via several projects. Students will gain familiarity with the geography, geology, plants and animals (focusing on vertebrates) of the three geographic regions of Georgia: Appalachians, Piedmont and Coastal Plain as well as our coastal environments. We will cover important biological, ecological and evolutionary topics relevant to natural history as well as learn about the habitats, food habits and behavior of species.

Text Books:
Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America
Peterson Field Guide to Southeastern and Caribbean Seashores
Elemental South ed. by D. Dallmeyer

Class E-tools: eLC & YouTube channel

Please check eLC every day for announcements and changes in the Syllabus. Do not post lecture notes on eLC.

Grading Policy:
Attendance in this class is mandatory and if you come to class, study a moderate amount and do the readings you should do very well (A or B grade), if you don’t then your grade likely will suffer. Your grade will be based on attendance/class participation, a final and midterm, an individual active learning project and a group project (depends on class size) in which you create a karaoke video on a natural history concept (predation, competition, etc.), a species, or a habitat type (stream, Coastal Plain, etc.). You may pull video off the web or use your own), but you will be writing the lyrics of the song, finding music on the web, singing the lyrics and putting the video together to show to the class during the final class period. You only will be graded on the scientific accuracy and cleverness of the video, no one will be graded on singing/musical ability. A rubric will be posted on eLC. The final will be partially cumulative, about 20% will be based on conceptual material from the pre-midterm lectures. The active learning project will involve watching a video of animals in nature and describing and analyzing what you see, using the concepts learned in class. Again a rubric will be provided via eLC. Exams will be based on lecture materials, readings and anything else presented or assigned in class. Exams are multiple choice format and will consist of both questions and photo identification of species. The midterm exam will count 100 points, the final 150, the individual active learning project 140 points, the karaoke video 60 points. Exam and assignment scores may be curved but this will depend on class performance. Attendance/class participation will count for 50 points, which yields a total of 500 points for all class assignments/attendance. Your attendance score is updated weekly and any potential errors must be resolved no later than one week after they occur. Copies of earlier exams will not be provided. There will be no make-up exams. If there is a conflict in information between the text and lecture information, the lecture information should be considered correct. Finally, there is a FaceBook group for the class titled Natural History of Georgia Fall 2015—here’s the link participation is optional but will be considered in your participation grade, especially if you are within five points of the next higher grade. You have to send a “join” request and this does not mean that I will be able to see your FB, I’ll only be able to see group posts. The group is for you to share interesting relevant material for your classmates. Articles from the popular or scientific press, natural history experiences and photos, etc. are all suitable for posting. If you have questions regarding whether information is relevant send me an email first. Absolutely no business/commercial posts. There may be a pop quiz/assignment or two depending on general attendance.

Non-Curved Grading Scale (typically grades are curved so this scale is approximate):
A = 93%+, A- =90-92%, B+ = 87-89%, B = 83-86%, B- = 80-82%, C+ = 77-79%, C = 73-76%, C- = 70-72%, D = 69-60%, F = below 60%.

There will be no use of laptops or phones in class. Research has shown that taking notes by hand is the best way to absorb material and also does not distract neighboring students. Educational researchers also have shown that watching non-class materials in class has the strongest negative effect on the students surrounding this person, not on that person themselves. If you are caught using either a computer or phone in class then your grade will be docked 10 points for each occasion. You will be provided with a set of slides complimenting the lecture on eLC prior to the lecture and these should aid in note taking.

UGA Academic Honesty Policy:
By taking this class you are committed to following the University’s academic honesty policy (see “A Culture of Honesty”; You are responsible for knowing these standards from the first lecture onwards. Violations of the honor code may result in severe penalties and ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. Filling out an attendance slip for someone other than yourself constitutes academic dishonesty.

Syllabus Liability Waiver:
Revised syllabi will be posted as needed (see title date) — be sure you have the current copy. Deviations will occur at the discretion of the instructor and will be posted on eLC.

Lecture topics Fall 2015

Class intro.,
Georgia geology & soils (Dr. Morris)
Tapped video
Geol (con.) Biome, Appalachian forests,
Taxonomy Mammals, hibernation,
Natural Selection, streams & turbidity
Models of Speciation, Northern Hardwoods
Cane Toads video
Population Regulation, Active Learning Exercise discussion
Invasive spp., Appalachian fishes schooling
Introduction to birds
Active learning work day
Insects of Georgia (Dr. McHugh)
Salmon Forest video (ecosystem connectivity)
Mimicry & Appalachian herps,
Niche and Interspecific, Competition & Piedmont fishes,
Medicinal Plants of Georgia (Dr. Affolter)
Habitat Selection & Appal. birds, Piedmont Herps
Keystone spp., Piedmont herps & birds
Piedmont herps and birds continued
Herp Day
Predation/foraging Piedmont & Coastal Plain mammals,
Sex Determination & Coastal Plain birds & herps
Ecological effects of tourism in GA (Dr. Boley)
Eco. Services Coastal Plain & Atlantic Forests
Karaoke video work session
Sexual selection climate change,
Fragmentation, Atl. fishes, herps, inverts
Atl. fishes, mammals, herps, inverts con.
Coastal environments (Prof. Meryl Albers)
Turn in Karaoke videos
Karaoke viewing and grading (attendance credit)
Biodiversity, coastal birds, mammals