BI490 Advanced Topics in Biology:

for SP 2013

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BI 490 Special Topics in Biology:  Ornithology


SP 2013 HO


Taulman, James


Associate 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 114B

Office Hours

M-W-F 9-11 AM, Tue. and Thur. 10-11 AM

Daytime Phone



Web Page

Semester Dates

14 January - 10 May, 2013

Class Days


Class Time

11:00 - 11:50 AM



Credit Hours



Ornithology, Third Edition, Frank B. Gill.  ISBN-13: 978-0-7167-4983-7, ISBN-10: 0-7167-4983-1

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:

BI 490 Ornithology.  This course will present information on birds, including evolutionary history, anatomy, physiology, ecology, behavior, and conservation issues.  Students will learn to identify a selection of local native bird species by sight and song.  Walking trips in the forest and on campus will enhance the learning experience.

Educational Philosophy:

In this class, the instructor will attempt to create an interactive learning environment utilizing lectures, class discussions, homework, exams, quizzes, various technologies, laboratory activities, and field trips.  Each student is encouraged to participate within the structure of the course, expressing his/her views and personal beliefs.  Critical thinking and skepticism are the cornerstones of science and the foundations to uncovering the truth about the natural world.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

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

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. Learn to identify common native bird species by sight and song
  2. Understand distinctive features of avian anatomy and physiology
  3. Recognize differences in bird orders and become aware of local representatives of each order
  4. Become familiar with the natural history and ecology of common native bird species
  5. Understand global and local threats to avian biodiversity
  6. Learn about bird conservation strategies and organizations
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:

Lecture Exams              4 @ 100 = 400 points

Term Paper (core assessment)      125 total (written report = 100, powerpoint presentation = 25)

Total points possible:  525

The research project leading to the term paper will consist of a species account dealing with a single bird species selected by each student.  An example of a species account and the format to be followed in the written report is available at this link:
The student should include at least 5 articles from the scientific literature as references.  Other references may come from reputable online sources, not *.com.  All aspects of the species' biology should be covered, including morphological description, distribution and habitat, behavior, ecology, genetics, evolutionary history, any interesting reproductive or social characteristics, and current status.  A distribution map and other illustrations may be included in the written report.  Again, follow the example article in style and format, with the exception that a taxonomic key to distinguish the species is not needed.
Each student will also prepare a 5-10 minute PowerPoint presentation which will be given orally in class at the end of the semester.  Do not include YouTube videos in this presentation.  Note that the oral presentation is an opportunity for the student to get practice in speaking to a group and to be evaluated by the instructor.  YouTube videos may show interesting features and behaviors of the species, but the point of this presentation is not so much to educate the class about the animal species as to allow the student to orally present a topic to the class.


A = 90.0% and higher

B = 80.0%

C = 70.0%

D = 60.0%

F = less than 60.0%

Late Submission of Course Materials:

All assignments are due by the date and time specified. Assignments not received by this time will be given a grade of zero. Emergency situations that can be documented will be handled on a case by case basis with the instructor. All other excused and unexcused absences must personally hand the instructor the assignment or make arrangements for the assignment to be hand delivered before the due date. 

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Cellular phones, beepers, and other communication devices are not allowed in class, and must be turned off and put away. Disruption of class by one of these devices will result in that student being counted as absent for the day and removed from the class for the day. Students suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be reported to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and removed from the class. Disruptive behavior (as deemed by the instructor) such as loud talking, snoring, leaving the classroom repeatedly during class time, etc. will result in removal of the student from the class for the day and the student will be considered absent. Multiple disruptions (loud talking, cell phone, etc.) over the semester will lead to withdrawal of the student from the class by the instructor.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week   Lecture Topics

Text Chapters

1, Jan. 14 - 18       
Introduction and Evolution
1, 2
2, Jan. 21 - 25   
Holiday, systematics, feathers
3, 4
3, Jan. 28 - Feb. 1
Flight, review, Test #1
4, Feb. 4 - 8
Respiratory, circulatory systems, thermal regulation
5, Feb. 11 - 15
Digestive and excretory systems, behavior, vision, hearing
6, 7
6, Feb. 18 - 22
Holiday, bird brain, senses, vocalizations
7, 8
7, Feb. 25 - Mar. 1
Vocalizations, review, Test #2 8
8, Mar. 4 - 8
Annual cycles, migration
9, 10
9, Mar. 11 - 15
Spring Break
10, Mar. 18 - 22
Social behavior, territoriality, mating and courtship
11, 12,
11, Mar. 25 - 29
Breeding systems, reproduction, nesting
13, 14, 15
12, Apr. 1 - 5
Ontogeny, imprinting, review, Test #3   
13, Apr. 8 - 12
Population dynamics, speciation, communities  18, 19, 20
14, Apr. 15 - 19
Communities, conservation 20, 21
15, Apr. 22 - 26
Conservation, open 21
16, Apr. 29 - May 3
Oral Research Reports
17, May 8
Final Exam, 10 - 12 AM

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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98
7. Students with a total of 12 unexcused absences in lecture classes or 5 labs will receive a grade of F in the course.  Further, any combination of unexcused lecture and lab time totaling 25 hours will receive a grade of F.  Students should inform the instructor if not able to attend class.  

8. Students who miss exams will not automatically be given a makeup test.  Students must notify the instructor if not able to be present on test day in order to schedule a makeup exam.

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: .

Additional Information:


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Last Updated:12/19/2012 2:25:58 PM