EFB 320 - General Ecology 2012



Dr. Tom Horton


Office: 350 Illick Hall

Office Hours Fall 2011: Tues 1:00 - 2:00 & Fri 1:00 - 2:00

Return to Horton Homepage

Last updated: August 11, 2011




Click for Lecture schedule


Click for Lecture Notes


Go to Ecology Lab page to find section times and room numbers, lab schedule, write-up due dates, etc.



Lecture = 50% of total grade (225 points total: 4 exams at 50 pts each, 4 paper summary/questions at 5 pts each)

Lab = 50% of total grade (225 points total, see lab web page for breakdown of points)




Required:The Economy of Nature 6th edition, by Robert E. Ricklefs. Go to The Economy of Nature webpage

Alternate: Ecology, 4th Edition by Ricklefs & Miller. This hard bound book offers a more comprehensive treatment of everything we will cover in class.

           I highly recommend you learn/review basic statistical approaches to data analyses. Many examples in lecture and lab will rely on your being able to interpret summary data analyses as presented in graphs, charts, and tables.

           Also, I highly recommend you use Excel or a similar spreadsheet to analyze your data for lab.

           Finally, for your lab reports...SPELL CHECK!


Required: EFB 320, General Ecology Lab Manual, Fall 2011 -- available at the Copy Center in Marshall Square (by the post office).


Reserve readings:

During the semester I will assign several papers for you to read. They can be accessed via the Moon Library Internet Journals service.  Click here to see the citations, with links that may not always function if a website has been altered (in that case use the citation to find the article). They should be read by the date shown on the Syllabus schedule and concepts within these papers will be included in the indicated lecture and on the following test.


 Tentative Syllabus, Fall 2009

Organisms: Life Histories and Evolutionary Fitness



Lecture Topic

Reading (Mostly from Economy of Nature)


Tuesday 8/28

On the importance of Ecology

Lecture notes from first several lectures, including experimental design and number crunching info 


Thursday 8/30

Experimental design, sampling, and hypothesis testing

Lab Manual, Notes, Web-based tutorials


Tuesday 9/4


Highlights: Variations in and Adaptations to the Environment

Experimental design, sampling, and hypothesis testing

Ch. 2 - 4


Thursday 9/6

Excel is your friend!


Tuesday 9/11

Organisms: Evolution and Adaptation


Thursday 9/13

Life histories and evolutionary fitness

Ch. 6 What is a species? Read for Tuesday 9/20 discussion and turn in a brief summary with 5 questions for 5 pts (due 9/20)


Tuesday 9/18

paper discussion/Exam I review

Ch. 7, A safe operating space for humanity

Earth’s Boundaries: a Nature comment

Read for Tuesday 9/20 discussion and turn in a brief summary with 5 questions for 5 pts (due 9/20)


Thursday 9/20

Exam I: Organisms (50 pts)

Data Analyses, Excel, Chs. 2 -4, 6, 7



Tuesday 9/25

Populations: Distribution and Structure

Ch. 10


Thursday 9/27

Populations: Growth and Regulation

Ch. 11, Guide to writing reports


Tuesday 10/2

Populations: Temporal and Spatial Dynamics

Ch. 12


Thursday 10/4

Species Interactions: Predator-Prey

Ch. 15 , Amphibian decline reading Read for Tuesday 10/11 discussion and turn in a brief summary with 5 questions for 5 pts


Tuesday 10/9

Amphibian decline paper discussion & Review


Thursday 10/11

Exam II: Population Growth models (50 pts)

Chs. 10, 11, 12, 15



Tuesday 10/16

Species Interactions

Ch. 14,


Thursday 10/18

Species Interactions: Competition



Tuesday 10/23

Evolution of Species Interactions

Ch. 17


Thursday 10/25


Truffle species interactions reading Read for Thursday 11/3 discussion and turn in a brief summary with 5 questions for 5 pts


Tuesday 10/30

Communities: Structure

Ch. 18


Thursday 11/1

Truffle species interactions & Review


Tuesday 11/6

Exam III: Species interactions (50 pts)

Chs. 14,16,17,18



Thursday 11/8

Special Lecture: Fire Ecology

Fire ecology readings Read for Thursday 12/8 discussion and turn in a brief summary with 5 questions for 5 pts


Tuesday 11/13

Communities: Succession and Development

Ch. 19


Thursday 11/15

Communities: Biodiversity

Ch. 20, Biodiversity Reading (no summary...your reading pleasure only!)


Thursday 11/20

Thanksgiving break -- no class



Thursday 11/22

Thanksgiving break -- no class



Tuesday 11/27

Ecosystems: Energy

Ch. 22


Thursday 11/29

Ecosystems: Elements

Ch. 23


Tuesday 12/4

  Ecosystems: Nutrient Regeneration

Ch. 24


Thursday 12/6

Fire and Biodiversity discussions & Review


Thursday 12/15


Marshall Auditorium

Exam IV: Communities and Ecosystems (50 pts)

Fire & Biodiversity readings, Chs. 19, 20, 22, 23, 24

Plus some questions on major concepts in Ecology





Statistics and Report Writing

           Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry 3rd ed. Freeman and Company, New York. A general text.

           Cox GW (2002) General Ecology: Laboratory Manual, 8th ed. McGraw-Hill Boston. The first 7 chapters provide a great overview of statistics, experimental design, sampling, and report writing.

           Knisely, K (2002) A Student Handbook for Writing in Biology. Sinauer Associates, Massachusetts.

History of Ecology

           Real LA, Brown JH, editors (1991) Foundations of Ecology: Classic Papers with Commentaries. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Contains reproductions of the fundamental papers that have shaped the field, including the origins of ideas on: plant succession, niche theory, trophic interactions, and much more.

           Roughgarden J, May RM, Simon LA, editors (1989) Perspectives in Ecological Theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton. Provides overviews of essential theory in ecology by some of the 'big names'.


Lecture Readings


Note on "Summaries and 5 Questions" assignments. Demonstrate to me that you have read the article with a brief summary (a paragraph or so). In addition, write 5 questions about the topic that came during your reading of the article. The questions can be directed towards something that you did not understand, that you felt the authors had wrong, etc. The questions can also be more tailored towards issues that you felt needed additional attention in the article, that might be interesting to follow up on, or thoughts about addtional research that is needed (For example: I think the article would have benefitted from a table listing species still considered a single group, like Homo sapiens, vs those that are now considered multispecies under one morphological concept, like Giraffe). Based on my example, you can see that a question does really need to be a question!




Readings for first exam

What is a Species? 

Earth's Boundaries 


Amphibian Decline (for Exam II)

Required: Johnson, PT. 2006. Amphibian diversity: Decimation by disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103 (9): 3011-3012.

This is a commentary on the primary article below.


Recommended - full article: Lips, KR et al. 2006. Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community: Pathogens and enigmatic amphibian extinctions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103: 3165-3170.


Multi-trophic species interactions (for Exam III)

Truffle species interactions reading

Trappe JM, Claridge AW. 2010. The hidden life of truffles. Scientifica American 302


Postfire management reading (READ ALL FOUR but turn in a single summary and set of 5 questions related to the Donato firestorm in Blackboard Turnitin!!!)

Burning Questions - basics of fire ecology.


Talk about a fire storm! Data paper = Donato et al. 2006; Science editor comments on the attempt to influence publication of the work; Editorial comment in the Oregonian newspaper.




More than meets the eye. Sean Nee. Nature 429: 804-805.




 Lecture Notes

Lecture notes from first several lectures, including experimental design and number crunching info

Lecture notes from Population Growth Lectures (for Exam II)