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Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Spring 2013
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

Lecture:  TR 8:00-9:20 AM

Laboratory: M 2:00-4:50 PM

Dr. Magaly Rincon-Zachary (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Thomas M. Smith and Robert L. Smith. (2012). Ele
James E. Brower, Jerrold H. Zar and Carl N. von En
Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the levels of organization in ecology.
  • Understand and apply the scientific method to investigate ecological questions.
  • Evaluate experimental results objectively.
  • Differentiate between habitat and niche.
  • Describe how the physical environment affects living organisms.
  • Describe how the physical environment affects the distribution of living organisms in the world.
  • Describe the characteristics of each biome.
  • Describe and recognize adaptations of organisms to their environment.
  • Recognize that adaptations are the result of evolution
  • Explain the flow of energy in ecosystems.
  • Understand that ecological populations have their own characteristics, which differ from those of the individuals composing the populations.
  • Explain how individuals of different populations interact.
  • Recognize that an ecological community is a distinctive living system with its own composition, structure and function.
  • Explain the processes responsible for the changing pattern of community structure through time (succcession)
  • To critically evaluate the scientific literature in ecology
Course Expectations

Requirements are as follow:

  • One year of Biology courses and Math 1233
  • Biol 3534 is recommended
  • Computer literacy
Grading Standards

Since this course has a laboratory component, the lecture and laboratory grades are calculated separately.  The lecture and the laboratory weigh 50% each.   If a student fails the laboratory, he/she fails the course.

The final grade is based on the following scale:

90-100   A

80-89     B

70-79     C

60-69     D

< 60       F


Tests: There will be a total of three tests including the final examination.  The average of the three tests weighs 40% of your lecture grade.

Test Calendar

Test 1 February 21

Test 2 April 18

Test 3 May 9, 8:00-10:00 AM. Seniors are not exempt from taking the final exam unless they are graduating with honors.

Assignments and participation weigh 60% of the lecture grade.

  • Selected Readings, 30%
  • Long assignment, 30%
    • Reading and Evaluating the Scientific Literature in Ecology


Quizzes, 20%.  They are scheduled for almost all lab periods.  There will be questions, regarding the previous and the current lab exercises.  I cannot stress strong enough the importance of reading your lab exercise before coming to the lab session.   PLEASE DO!  No make up quizzes.

Reports and laboratory assignments, 60%. Most lab reports are due a week after each laboratory except for those laboratory exercises that have multiple lab sessions.  The instructor will announce the deadlines accordingly.

Lab reports must be typed in 12-point font (Times New Roman), in 1.5-line spacing and must not exceed four pages. All margins must be 1”.  I recommend keeping the lab reports in a three-ring binder after being graded. Your lab notes (modification of procedures, observations, results, calculations, etc.) must be kept in a notebook.

The reports must contain:

1)  Your name

2)  Name of the lab exercise

3)  Date (when the laboratory exercise is conducted)

4)  Introduction & objectives

5)  Materials and Methods -brief description of procedures

6)  Results

7)  Discussion:   significance of the results, answers to questions, your conclusions, etc.

8) Literature Cited

Final Exam 05/09/2013 8:00-10:00 AM
Submission Format Policy

Unless otherwise indicated, all assignments must be typed and followed the format below:

Line spacing: 1.5

Margins: 1" all around

Font: Times New Roman

Font size: not smaller than 10 point and not larger than 12

Proper English usage is required.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Late Paper Policy

No late assignments will be accepted unless the student has a compelling reason such as an injury, illness, or family emergency and informs the instructor of the situation in a timely manner (not later than 24 hours).

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

1.  Students  must attend lectures and labs and must be punctual.  

2.  A student with excessive absences will be dropped from the course (2012-2014 Student Handbook, p.39-40).

Other Policies

1. No make-up exams or quizzes will be given except in cases of authorized absences (2012-2013 Student Handbook, p.43-44), injury, illness, or family emergency.  If the reason of your absence is a non-life threatening injury or illness or a family emergency, you must contact me without delay.  If the reason of your absence is a university activity (athletic, art, music, etc.), you must furnish a letter from the instructor indicating the reason for the absence. If you must be absent from class for a long period of time because of injury, illness, or family emergency, please contact Dean of Students.

2.  Unexcused absences from tests, laboratory quizzes, and assignments will be recorded as zero

3. Three absences (excused or unexcused) in the laboratory are grounds for failure of the laboratory.  Therefore, a student who accumulates three absences in the laboratory will receive an F in the course.

4. If you have questions and want to discuss course material or problems, please come to see me during my office hours.

5. Students must follow the lecture outline and read the material before coming to class.

6. Students must follow the university standards of conduct (2011-2012 Student Handbook, p. 70-80).

7. Students must turn off cellular phones and other electronoc devices entering the classroom and laboratory. 

8.  Electronic devices are not allowed during quizzes and tests.

9. Eating, drinking, and smoking are not allowed in the classroom and laboratory.

10. Napping is not allowed during lectures and labs.


I personally consider answering a cell phone and text messaging in class or leaving the classroom to answer a call very impolite. Students who answer their cell phone and engage in text messaging will be asked to leave the classroom and will be considered absent.  If a student needs to have a cell phone on because an extraordinary circumstance (e.g., having a family member sick at home or in the hospital), he/she must let me know about it before class.


MSU students demand of themselves the highest level of academic honesty as stated in their honor creed “As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so” (2012-2013 Student Handbook, p. 4).  In this course you will be asked to work together in groups on assignments and laboratory exercises and then show your understanding of the topic by writing a summary, answering questions, writing lab reports, etc.  I want to be absolutely clear on this subject, while I strongly encourage students to discuss assignment materials and laboratory results among themselves, it is absolutely unacceptable to copy each other.  Academic honesty involves the submission of work that is wholly the student’s own work. It also involves giving credit or authorship by following the proper citation rules.


In accordance with the law, MSU provides students with documented disabilities academic accommodations. If you are a student with a disability, please contact me and Disability Support Services, Clark Student Center, room 168, phone: 397-4140.


By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a "limited right" in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course.  The "limited right" shall include but shall not be limited to the right to reproduce the student's work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at