General Ecology, ECOL 3500, University of Georgia, Spring, 2009

Independent team videos

Updated: 6 May, 2009
World's smallest vultures

Can you find the six species in this image? What are they doing? Can you describe their ecological relationships with each other?
Click on the image, scroll to the bottom, set the resolution, then click on each image to advance to the next.

Contact Information
John Pickering -- -- 706-542-1115 -- 538 Biological Sciences Building (northeast corner of building)

Office Hours
After class (10:00AM - noon, Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays) or by appointment.

When: 9:05-9:55AM, Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays
Where: Auditorium, Ecology Building

F 09 Jan -- Course structure (this page). What is Ecology? [Smith & Smith, Chapter 1]
M 12 Jan -- Scientific & quantitative methods, experimental design [Smith & Smith, Chapter 1]
W 14 Jan -- Climate Change -- Film: "An Inconvenient Truth" (abbreviated) [Smith & Smith, Chapters 2 & 29]
F 16 Jan -- Biodiversity [Smith & Smith, Chapter 26]
M 19 Jan -- No Class, MLK Holiday
W 21 Jan -- Bumblebees and Climate Change [Guest Lecture: Gretchen LeBuhn]
F 23 Jan -- The Challenge -- Film: "Tragedy of the Commons
M 26 Jan -- Ecological genetics [Smith & Smith, Chapter 5]
W 28 Jan -- Evolution by natural selection, speciation, Tree of Life
F 30 Jan -- Units of selection [Trivers, Chapter 4]
M 02 Feb -- Behavioral ecology, genetic relatedness, sociality [Trivers, Chapter 6]
W 04 Feb -- Individual-population interactions, sex ratios [Trivers, Chapter 11]
F 06 Feb -- Populations, growth & regulation [Smith & Smith, Chapters 8-11]
M 09 Feb -- Metapopulations [Smith & Smith, Chapter 12]; Natural History; Trophic interactions
W 11 Feb -- Invasive species; Biological Control
F 13 Feb -- Disease ecology -- causes, epidemiology, virulence
M 16 Feb -- Review -- integrating ideas and data globally
W 18 Feb -- Cumulative Midterm Exam
[Pick heads out to teach in Costa Rica on 19th]


This first part of the course is worth 27% of the total course grade. Grades will be assigned based on performance on unannounced short tests in lectures and a cumulative midterm exam on 18 February. Students may elect to substitute an independent team project (2-5 students per team) instead of taking the midterm. If over half the class elects choose to do independent projects by 28 January, then all students must do independent projects. Because of the anticipated difficulty of the midterm, grades will be curved and based on total points. At least the top 1/6th of the class will get 90% or better; the next 1/3rd will get a 80% or better, and most of the remainder will get 70% or better.

Unannounced tests of 2-6% each will be given to reward daily attendance and reading assigned material on time. If you miss a test and have a valid excuse, then your test grade will equal the average of your other unannounced test grades. Valid excuses will be limited to those pre-approved by Pickering, medical excuses documented by a doctor, or ones approved by the University's administration. These test will be open notes but not open book.

Midterm exam will be cumulative and focus on problem solving rather than memorization.

Independent team projects
To be presented at the General Ecology Film Festival, Sunday, 26 April, 1:00-5:00PM, Ecology Auditorium

Laboratory Sections
Information about the labs will be posted on WebCT and will be available to enrolled students after drop/add. The labs start on Tuesday, 20 January, 2009. Because the 19th January is a holiday, if you're in a Monday lab section, please go to any other section that week.

If you have questions about the labs, please contact a teaching assistant:

  • Bill McDowell -- -- 510-847-9814
  • Christina Baker -- -- 706-483-2549
  • Dawn Drumtra -- -- 479-200-8822

Academic honesty
All academic work must meet the standards contained in "A Culture of Honesty." Students are responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any academic work. The link to more detailed information about academic honesty can be found at:

Reading material
Text -- Smith, T. M. and R. L. Smith. 2009. Elements of Ecology (Seventh Edition). Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN 0-321-55957-6/978-0321-55957-9. [Required pages specified above.]

Additional readings will be assigned in class. Some of these will be required; others are optional and may help in thinking about an independent project. These include

  • Trivers, R. L. 1985. Social Evolution. Benjamin/Cummings. ISBN 0-8053-8507-X. [Chapters 4, 6, & 11 required.]
  • Stiling, P. D. 1996. Ecology: Theories and Applications (Second Edition). Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-221939-5. [Recommended -- a good alternative text.]
  • Ricklefs, R. E. 1990. Ecology (Third Edition). W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 0-7167-2077-9. [Recommended -- a good, thick, heavy ecology text.]
  • Louv, R. 2005. Last Child in the Woods. Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. ISBN-13:978-1-56512-391-5/10:1-56512-391-3. [Recommended -- about how our children are disconnected from nature.]
  • Friedman, T. L. 2008. Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Why we need a green revolution -- and how it can renew America. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. New York. ISBN-13:978-0-374-16685-4/10:0-374-16685-4. [Recommended -- environmentalism, not ecology.]
  • Friedman, T. L. 2005. The World is Flat. A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. New York. ISBN-13:978-0-374-29288-1 [Recommended -- supports why you should do an independent project!]
  • Lomborg, B. 2007. Cool It - The Skeptical Environmentalists's Guide to Global Warming. Vintage Books. New York. ISBN:978-0-307-38652-6 [Recommended -- environmentalism -- a case for why you shouldn't always believe in what you read or see. See]
  • Mowat, F. 1996. Sea of Slaughter. Mariner Books. ISBN-10:1576300196/13:978-1576300190 [Recommended -- environmentalism -- Have humans really slaughtered so many creatures in North America? Are common species more at risk to extinction than rare ones?]
  • 2009 Horizon Report

Videos (Please view these as assigned. Some will be shown in lecture.)

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