BIOL 125 - Basic Ecology

Students are introduced to the basic concepts of ecology. Topics of study include: the ecosystem concept; trophic webs and energy flow; biogeochemistry; effects of the abiotic environment on organisms; population and community dynamics; and changes in ecosystem structure and function. The concepts of population abundance and biological diversity are applied in a small-scale inventory project.




Hours: 45 (Lecture Hours: 39; Field Experience Hours: 6)


Total Weeks:  15




Non-Course Prerequisites: 





Course Content:
The Role and History of Ecology
- Historical development of ecology
- The discipline of ecology
- The link between human population growth and ecology
The Ecosystem Concept
- Levels of biological organization
- The ecosystem concept
- Biological integration
- Ecosystem change
The Transfer and Storage of Energy in Ecosystems
- Ecosystem components
- Energy flow and material cycling
- Trophic chains and webs
- Ecological pyramids
Primary Production
- Factors influencing primary production
- Measurements of primary production
Nutrient Cycling in Ecosystems
- Geochemical nutrient cycling
- Biochemical cycling
- Biogeochemical cycling
- Effects of pollution and contamination on nutrient cycling
- Changes in nutrient cycling that occur over succession
The Effects of Abiotic Factors on Organisms
- Solar radiation, temperature, wind
- Soil in relation to plants and animals
- Properties of water and its influence on plants and animals
- Effects of fire on ecosystem processes
- Effects of fire on plants and animals
- Fire exclusion
Factors That Affect the Abundance and Dynamics of Species Populations
- Characteristics of a population
- Spatial arrangement of organisms
- Population density
- Carrying capacity
- Populations growth patterns
- Regulation of population size
- Population cycles
- Predation
Community Dynamics
- The community concept
- Community structure and distribution
- Plant communities
- Interactions among community members
- Ecological niche concept
Biological Diversity
- Trends in biodiversity
- Describe mechanisms of successional change
- Types of biodiversity
- Biodiversity and ecosystem stability
- Natural selection
Changes in Ecosystem Function and Structure
- Theories and concepts of succession
- Seres and the climax community
- Types of succession
- Mechanisms of successional change
- Successional effects on ecosystem processes
- Rates of change in succession
- Role of disturbance in succession
- Ecosystem stability
Small Mammal Trapping or Plant Sampling
- Regulations for conducting studies involving animals
- Set up study design
- Proper and ethical handling of small mammals
- Measurements of small mammals
- Estimate of population abundance and diversity



Learning Outcomes:
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Outline the role and history of ecology
- Describe the ecosystem concept
- Outline the transfer and storage of energy in ecosystems
- Describe nutrient cycling in ecosystems
- Describe primary production
- Describe the effects of abiotic factors on organisms
- Detail factors that affect the abundance and dynamics of species populations
- Describe community dynamics
- Describe and enumerate biological diversity
- Describe changes in ecosystem function and structure
- Conduct field sampling techniques to estimate population abundance and diversity


Grading System:  Letters


Passing Grade:  D (50%)


Percentage of Individual Work:  95


Percentage of Group Work: 5


Text Books:
Textbooks are subject to change.  Please contact the bookstore at your local campus for current book lists.