Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Second Midterm Exam

Here is the Second Midterm Exam. There are three questions below. I would like all of you to answer Question #1. You may then choose to answer either question #2 or question #3. This is a take-home exam. You may use whatever resources are at your disposal (but please make sure that you are doing your own original work). The exam should be returned to me via email no later than 11:59 PM on March 10th.

Question 1.

Imagine that you are a reporter "Lubbock Life" magazine, a new publication aimed at interested and aware Lubbockites. Your editor has had a negative experience with fire ants and has watched a nature show on the Discover Channel that talked about problems caused by the introduction of predators to islands. The Editor knows that you are savvy about environmental matters so she/he asks you to write an article discussing "invasive species". Your word limit is 1200 words.

Question 2. (this question refers to the figure at the top of the post)

This figure shows how several abiotic characteristics of a river change as you move down stream. Discuss why the river shows these changes.

Question 3.

Imagine that you attend a university located in a climate where the combination of water and geographic relief made it possible to have a stream flowing through campus. The administration of this university is interested in developing "environmental awareness" among the student body and the extended campus family. You have been hired to give a presentation to prospective students and their parents about various interesting environmental aspects of the campus environment.

You are charged with developing a presentation about the adaptations of stream organisms. (a good presentation will deal with some of the problems faced by organisms living in a stream environment and examples of adaptations in both animals and plants).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Field Trip Presentations

You all know that you will be required to do a "presentation" while we are on the rive on our field trip. I have been intentionally vague about what you should do because I want you to have the flexibility to (1) learn about a topic you are interested in and (2) share that info with your classmates in an interesting way. Unfortunately, we won't have a long enough extension chord to use Powerpoint, so you will have to settle for leading your class around the campfire, in a beautiful canyon, or at a scenic overlook.

In light of Daisy's suggestion that it would be a good idea for you to know what each other is doing, I have prepared this Field Trip Presentation post. This post will allow you to stake your claim to a topic, share ideas, and get feedback from your classmates.

Daisy's Got Dibs

So far Daisy has claimed the always popular topic of "periphyton"! If you wanted to talk about algae then you will have to buy the rights to this topic from her (I suggest $400).

Daisy- while I was being a smart-a@@ looking for a photo of periphyton to post, I came across a couple of websites that might actually be useful to you.



Salt Cedar/ Tamarisk

Salt cedar is one of the most important invasive species in riparian zones in the western US. Last year we saw extensive stands of tamarisk along the Rio Grande in Big Bend. Jordan said that the large flood last fall removed a lot of these plants so I am interested in seeing how things have changed from one year to the next.

Further Viewing

Here is a link to the slide show that I presented in class


Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of this class a fully engaged student should be able to

- discuss the effects of tamarisk invasion on riaprian communities
- discuss various tamarisk control strategies

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Invasive Species

Invasive species are an important threat to biodiversity and can be very costly to humans.

Further Reading

1) Invasive Species- http://www.eoearth.org/article/Invasive_species

2) Marine Invasive species - http://www.eoearth.org/article/Marine_invasive_species

3) Aquatic Invasive Species- http://www.eoearth.org/article/Aquatic_invasive_species

4) Invasion Fact Sheet- http://www.eoearth.org/article/Invasion_fact_sheet

5) Invasive Species Slideshow- http://www.slideshare.net/secret/bL1TCLiLtoH5Np

Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course a fully engaged student should be able to

- discuss threats caused by invasive species
- discuss strategies to exclude or eliminate invasive species
- discuss some invasive species in Texas

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Disturbance Ecology

Because of the high frequency of floods along most rivers and streams, disturbances have important effects on stream and riparian communities.

Further Reading

1) Here is a link to a chapter entitled - The response of animals to disturbance and their roles in patch generation. that Mike Willig and I wrote for a book Ecosystems of Disturbed Ground. The first portion of this chapter talks about our view of disturbance


2) The Fire Ecology Factsheet- http://www.eoearth.org/article/Fire_ecology_fact_sheet

3) Slideshow


Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course a fully engaged student should be able to

- define disturbance
- list examples of disturbances
- distinguish between a disturbance and a disaster
- discuss the characteristics of a disturbance regime
- discuss some adaptations of organisms to disturbances
- discuss why disturbances are natural parts of many ecosystems
- discuss the intermediate disturbance hypothesis
- discuss issues related to flooding

Stream Organisms


Stream Organisms- http://www.slideshare.net/secret/ujFa7mhgkON9lY

Ecosystem Processes - http://www.slideshare.net/secret/LhSMUxfsgG6Gop

Further Readings

Freshwater biomes- http://www.eoearth.org/article/Freshwater_biomes

Differences between terrestrial and aquatic environments- http://www.eoearth.org/article/Differences_between_aquatic_and_terrestrial_environments

Adaptations of marsh plants

Aquatic plants

Common aquatic insects

Stream Organisms

Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course a fully engated student should be able to

- discus aquatic autotrophs including periphyton and macrophytes
- discus adaptations of aquatic plants to life in the stream
- discus adaptations of stream insects to stream environments
- discus the importance of phylogenetic classification
- be familiar with the aquatic and terrestrial stages of the common insect orders
- distinguish between holometabolous and hemimetabolous life histories and discuss potential advantages of the two lifestyles

Ecosystem Process and the River Continuum Concept

Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course a fully engaged student should be able to

- distinguish between allochthanous and authochthanous inputs of organic matter
- distinsguish between different forms of organic matter- DOM, FPOC, CPOC
- discuss the ecological roles played by aquatic invertebrates
- discus the relationship between stream order and the river continuum concept

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A student from my BIOL 1404 class sent me a link to this video. It seems like almost all of ecology is going on in this video. The highlight of my biology life was visiting Kruger Park when I was about 13 (how sad to peak so young). I saw lots of amazing animals, but I didn't see anything like this. Enjoy!