CVSC 331 - Conservation Biology
Syllabus - Fall 2015

Updated 12/03/2015

Lecture: BSC 437, MWF 11:00-11:50 a.m.

Laboratory: BSC 437, Thursday 12:30-3:20 p.m.

Instructor: Jim Dooley                                       T.A.: 

Office: 428 Boyd Science Center                     Office: 

 E-Mail:                    E-Mail:

Phone: 740-826-8227                                            Phone: 

Course Description:

Conservation Biology will provide an introduction to the role of science in the conservation of animals and plants.  Course lectures, text readings, case studies, and readings from the primary literature will provide a rigorous introduction to the motivation for, methods of, and major challenges facing contemporary conservation biology.    In addition, lectures and laboratories will seek to enhance each student’s understanding of the scientific process and thus the potential and limitations of science as a tool in addressing contemporary social problems.

The content of course lectures will focus on an introduction to the scientific study and analysis of biodiversity; a survey of the major threats to biodiversity; an overview of contemporary conservation strategies and an analysis of recent and historic success and failures in conservation efforts.

Supporting these overarching topics will be a review of current work in the ecological and evolutionary sciences germane to conservation efforts and an emphasis on the complex challenges faced by conservation biologists in developing practical strategies that adequately address the difficult social, economic, political and ethical dimensions attendant to contemporary conservation problems.  Laboratories and field trips will focus on analysis of appropriate literature (particularly case studies), field exercises designed to introduce standard field methods, and computer-based approaches to biotic inventories, habitat analysis, and predictive modeling. The course requirements will include three exams and a semester-long writing project (either a review of information on some particular problem, or a proposal designed to address a specific conservation problem).

Course Learning Objectives:  

Conservation Biology is an applied field of biology.  It is distinct from "basic" science or pure discovery areas of biology in that the aim is to address specific problems - in this case the precipitous global decline in biodiversity. Nonetheless the course is designed to meet a number of learning goals within both biology and the conservation science program.   In particular, this course addresess Biology Department Learning Goals 3 & 4  as  well as Conservation Science Program Learning Goals 1-4.  More specifically as a result of taking this course, students should demonstrate:

1.   An  understanding of how the term biodiversity is used and described from a scientific perspective. 

2.    An understanding of how patterns of biodiversity have changed through time

3.    An understanding of the important current threats to biodiversity as well as how these threats relate back to human needs

4.    An understanding of how interdisciplinary work (particularly involving the domains of policy, economics, cultural orientation and ethics) is essential to addressing problems in this area

5.  An understanding of how conservation management can serve as a crtical tool in addressing conservation problems.   

6. An understanding of areas of focus in current investigative activity within the field as well as an understanding of how science's orientation to "problem solving" plays a critical role these applied areass


Course Design, Requirements, Exams and Grading:

The course will consist of two parts: lecture and laboratory. Grades from the two parts will be combined in the final grade. Your course grade will be based on the following:

1) For the lecture part of the course:

2)  The laboratory grade will be based on exercises and short assignments & evaluation of your modeling exercises portfolio (70%) and a laboratory final (30%).   Short assignments will include items such as journal paper reviews and grades on modeling work turned in during the course of the term.

3) Active engagement & participation in lecture and laboratory sessions

A word of warning: there is a great deal of reading and writing associated with this class.   You should anticipate that you’ll need to spend time reading almost every day in order to keep up.   Indeed, regard the reading as the primary mode of instruction – lectures are designed to emphasize key points, provide context, and some additional information.   You should understand that we can’t cover everything from the reading in class.  Therefore, expect that tests will have questions drawn directly from text reading, journal papers and other materials I’ve assigned - even if we haven’t directly discussed the material in class. 

The final course grad will be based: 70% on the lecture grade, 25% on the laboratory grade and 5% on active participation.

·      I’m not going to impose a grade penalty if you miss classes. You’re adults now and this should be a class in your general area of interest. Besides, in my experience, the chickens almost always come home to roost for folks that miss more than a few classes.  You are, of course, responsible for all material covered by lectures, exercises, simulations and videos.

·       By contrast, YOU ARE REQUIRED to attend laboratory.   Due to the nature of the experiences, there can be no make-up.  If attending laboratory is going prove difficult (even owing to college sanctioned reasons), don’t take the course.   You should come to laboratory on field trip days prepared to be outside for several hours - dress appropriately!

 Textbook: Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature (2015)  by Peter Kareiva & Michelle Marvier (Roberts & Company, ISBN = 978-1-936221-49-3).  

Laboratory Manual: Available from BBB & online purchase

An Important Note on Writing: Writing you submit for my evaluation needs to be formal and professional.  By that, I mean that you should use complete sentences and be sure to review for spelling and grammatical errors.  I will be evaluating both the content in our writing as well as writing quality itself. 

Lecture Schedule



Activity, Topic(s) & Required Reading

8/31, 9/2, 9/4
Humans Are the Dominant Ecological Force - Chapter 1

9/7, 9/9, 9/11
Biodiversity and Extinction - Chapter 2
9/14, 9/16, 9/18
The Perils of Small Populations - Chapter 7

9/21, 9/23, 9/25
Population Size, Trend, and Viability - Chapter 8


9/28, 9/30, 10/02

Assessing Threats and Choosing Conservation Actions - Chapter 9


10/05, 10/07, 10/09

Islands of Nature and the Role of Dispersal - Chapter 10


10/14, 10/16
  Fall Break

  Restoration and Reintroduction: Measures of Last Resort - Chapter 11


10/19, 10/21, 10/23

Adapative Management and Evidenced-Based Conservation - Chapter 12


10/26, 10/28, 10/30

Ecosystem Services: Accounting for Natures's Value - Chapter 3


11/02, 11/04, 11/06

Policy Responses to Biodiversity Loss and Ecosystem Degradation - Chapter 4


11/09, 11/11, 11/13

Protected Areas: a Cornerstone of Conservation - Chapter 5


11/16, 11/18, 11/20

Conservation Planning and Priorities - Chapter 6


11/23, 11/25, 11/27

Exam Review
Thanksgiving Break


11/30, 12/02, 12/04

Climate Change Demands New Conservation Strategies - Chapter 18


12/07, 12/09, 12/11

Making Conservation a Success Story - Chapter 19
Course Evaluations




Final Exam -  12/18 - 8:30 am





Laboratory Schedule



Activity, Topic(s) & Required Reading



Logistics: Fill out Travel Wavier Forms & Student Driver
Loading Laptops with RAMAs software
Distribution of Laboratory Notebooks:
Available through BBB?
Lecture: Demographic Modeling - Why Models are Your Friend
Demonstration: An Introduction to RAMAS - Laboratory 2 -
From Bacteria to Blue Whales: Growth Without Limits
: Butterfly Identification

Literature Discussion: Prato 2005 (Accounting for Uncertainty in Making Species Protection Decisions, 4923)



Powerpoint Presentation:  Supplement To Chapter 2
My Footprint
Literature Discussion: Dolphin and Quicke 2001 (Estimating the global Species Richness ... 4298)
Video: "The Grizzlies"
Exercise: Laboratory 5 -  Grizzly Bears: The Problems of Small Populations



Field Trip to the Wilds - Biodiversity of Butterflies



Data Analysis: Buterfly data
Demographic Estimation: tools & techniques
Exercise: Laboratory 4 - Wood Storks and Honeyeaters: Estating Population Characteristics



Literature Discussion: Flashpohler et al. 2001. (4002) (Effects of Forest Edges on Ovenbrid Demography ...)
Field Exercise in the Hollow: Analysis of Edge Effects or Video: "The Sixth Extinction:



Exam I (first two hours)

Exercise (maybe in lecture time): Island Biogeography Laboratory (see handout & National Park Service Park Area and Biodiversity  )
Literature Discussion
: Debinski & Holt 2000 (3725) (Overview of Habitat Fragmentation Experiments)

Discussion: Habitat Fragmentation -

Exercise:  Laboratory 12: Resucing the Spotted Owl: Conserving Species in Multiple Populations



Exam Writing & Individual Conferences on Exam I
Video: Audubon Series- Arctic National Refuge
Literature Discussion: Restoration: McGraw & Thom 2011 (6582")



TBA - Field Trip to Wilds Restoration ecology



Literature Discussion: Constanza et al. & TBA
Literature Discussion
: Davradou & Namkoong 2001
DVD: Sustainable Living??
Video: “Can the Elephants be Saved?-S”



Exercise: Source/Sink demonstration/exercise from from Donovan & Welden (2002-4378”)
Exercise: Laboratory 9: The African White Rhino: Too Many for their Own Good? (part I)
Video: “The Keepers of Eden - S
Literature Discussion: Simberloff 2003 (How Much Information on Population Biology Is Needed to Manage Introduced Species?)



TBA - Field Trip to Wilds Conservation Medicine or TBA on Protected areas



Exam II






DVD: An Inconvenient Truth
Exercise: Exploring the IPCC Website



Laboratory FinalDue in as e-mail attachment by 3:20 pm

Additional Material to consider

Case Study Literature Discussion: (Blum 1997-3813”)
Case Study Discussion - Frankilin: Chapter 7 - “Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Assessments” [4565”]
Case Study Literature Discussion (Wikramanayake et al. 1998 - 3252”)
Rapid Assessment and/or Reserve Design -

Reading & Discussion: Soule & Orians - Chapter 2

Literature Discussion: Dolphin and Quicke 2001 - 4298”
Literature Discussion
: Kaiser 2000 [3801”]
Literature Discussion: Flashpohler et al. 2001 (continued)
Literature Discussion:  Simberloff 2003 [4665”]
Literature Discussion: Greenwald et al. 2009 [5080"]
 Literature Discussion: Mace et al. (Assessmnet and Management of Species at Risk)

Exercise: Source/Sink demonstration/exercise from from Donovan & Welden (2002-4378”)
Demonstration: The Effects of Habitat Fragmentation - Model by E.O. Wilson

Laboratory 5 - Grizzly Bears: The Problems of Small Populations. 
Laboratory 9
: The African White Rhino: Too Many for their Own Good?
Laboratory 10: The Wild Ass and the Black Footed Ferret: Reintroduction of Endangered Species
Laboratory 13: Introduction to Ramas & Biodiversity’s Biggest Threat: Human Population Growth
Laboratory 12
: Rescuing the Spotted Owl: Conserving Species in Multiple Population

Laboratory 14 - The Case of Patrick’s Marsh Wren: Making Decisions to Protect Species

Video: “Hawaii: Stangers in Paradise - National Geographic Society”

Video: “Can the Elephants be Saved?-S”

Video: Understanding the Basic Concepts of Genetics [4317”]

Video: “The Grizzlies” National Geographic Society

Video on the role of Zoos and Preserves: “The Keepers of Eden - S
Video: Arctic National Refuge

DVD: An Inconvenient Truth

Species Invasions - Chapter 9 (293-314)

Species Invasions - Chapter 9 (293-314)

Species Invasions - Chapter 9 (293-314)

Disabilities Statement:

Any student who wishes to request an accommodation  is responsible to contact the Disability Education Office (DEO) to discuss his/her specific needs and the process to receive reasonable accommodation.  Please contact the DEO, located in The PLUS Center in Walter Hall #26 or call 740-826-6132 to arrange an appointment as soon as possible.  At the appointment, the procedure to coordinate accommodations will be discussed.  You can also find information about the process for accommodation on the web at
Muskingum University seeks to provide an environment that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment.  If you have been the victim of sexual harassment/misconduct/assault we encourage you to report this.  If you report this to a faculty member, she or he must notify our university's Title IX coordinator, Janet Heeter-Bass, about the basic facts of the incident.  For more information about your options at Muskingum University, please go to:

Useful Information & Resource Links:


BIODIVERSITY and CONSERVATION: A Conservation Hypertext by P.J. Bryant

Conservation Biology by Groom et al.