BI490 Advanced Topics in Biology:

for UMA 2009

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GGP 390 - Special Topics in Physical Geography


UMA 2009 HO


Taulman, James


Assistant Professor of Biology


PhD Zoology, PostDoc Conservation Biology, University of Arkansas
MS Biology, Central Washington University
BA Math, BS Biology, Univ. Texas at Arlington

Office Location

Sc 101

Office Hours

Mon., Tue., Wed. 1 – 2

Daytime Phone



Web Page

Semester Dates

11 May - 22 May, 2009

Class Days

-MTWR;  Friday

Class Time

8:00 - 11:15 AM;  Friday 8:00 - 10:15


Instructor approval

Credit Hours




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Course Description:
BI490/GGP 390 –  
This course will be focused on learning and applying professional ecological field research techniques and tools.  The Park University Forest natural area will permit daily field experiences within easy walking distance of classrooms.  Students will become familiar with methods and equipment commonly used by wildlife ecologists in government and academic research.  Topics covered will include navigation using both the compass and GPS receiver, habitat description procedures, reptile and amphibian survey methods, avian sight and song surveys, nondestructive mammal live trapping, radiotelemetry theory and actual location of free-ranging wildlife (using radiocollared raccoons to discover both daytime nesting sites and nighttime activity patterns), as well as some data analysis and computational exercises.

Educational Philosophy:
Ecological research methods are best learned through hands-on field training and experience. Studying plants and animals in their natural surroundings gives a fuller appreciation of native species, their inherent value, and the need for conservation of undeveloped wildlands within a growing urban environment.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Varies depending on topic (approved by the department)

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. 1. Become familiar with both the field magnetic compass and global positioning receiver and their uses in navigation and mapping.
  2. 2. Become familiar with habitat description methods and tools used in wildlife and vegetation research
  3. 3. Learn the basics of systematic survey methods for reptiles and amphibians
  4. 4. Learn the basics of songbird surveying
  5. 5. Learn the basics of small and medium-sized mammal live trapping
  6. 6. Become familiar with the theory and practice of radiotelemetry in locating free-ranging wildlife.
  7. 7. Learn the basics of home range creation using computer software and the kernel probability distribution range method, and learn to display of range boundaries in Google Earth.
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:

  1. Overnight homework assignments – 6 assignments at 10% each = 60%
  2. Final comprehensive exam at end of course = 40% 

  Grades will be determined as follows:

A = 90% or higher

B = 80% - 89%

C = 70% - 79%

D = 60% - 69%

F = below 60%

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Not permitted.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

  1. Students will come every day prepared for field work outdoors in the Park Forest.
  2. Students will need clipboards or field notebooks and calculators.
  3. All ecological research equipment will be provided.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:
Week 1, Day 1 – Introduction, compass use, map reading, map making, navigation, GPS use, MapSource and Google Earth interface with GPS, field experience in orientation and navigation with compass and GPS in Park forest. 

Homework assignment #1 on compass mapping.

Day 2 – Habitat description 1 – macroplotting methods, use of density board, hip chain, clinometer, DBH tape, densitometer, tree and shrub identification, vegetation data collected in the field on 3 macroplots in Park forest. 

Day 3 - Habitat description 2 – statistical comparisons among habitat types. 

Homework assignment #2 on vegetation description macroplotting and data summary.

Day 4 – Bird surveys – species and song review, theory and methods of bird sampling, use of rangefinder and binoculars, conduct breeding season bird surveys in Park forest. Homework assignment #3 on local bird species.

Day 5 – Herp (reptile and amphibian) survey theory and methods, herp species review, install herp drift fence array in Park forest, conduct a second breeding bird survey. Homework assignment #4 on herps in the Kansas City area.

Week 2, Day 6 – mammal species review, theory and methods of mammal live sampling, check herp drift fence array for captures, identify and release all specimens, set mammal traps in Park forest. 

Homework assignment #5 on raccoon ecology.

Day 7 – check mammal traps, identify, weigh, and release any captives, pick up traps, radiotelemetry theory and methods, locate 2 radiocollared raccoons in sleeping nests by radiotelemetry, fixing location with GPS, triangulate on raccoons, compute estimated locations using simple geometry and trig in lab. 

Homework assignment #6 on radiotelemetry.

Day 8 – track raccoons to nests again, further radiotelemetry and home range theory, meet again after dark for nighttime tracking of raccoons during activity period.

Day 9 – Creation of a home range using animal location data, conversion to Google Earth format, and display on Google Earth photography background.

Day 10 – final comprehensive exam

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:3/4/2009 3:01:43 PM