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COURSE NUMBER: BIOL 438
COURSE TITLE: Plant Ecology
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Vern Peters
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 3)
CALENDAR DESCRIPTION: Topics covered in plant ecology include ecophysiology, population biology, the structure and dynamics of plant communities, ecosystems, and landscapes, and climate and vegetation interactions. Field methods and analysis techniques for studying plant ecology will be covered.

Prerequisites: BIOL 330 and STAT 300
REQUIRED TEXTS: Gurevitch, J., Scheiner, S., & Fox, G. The Ecology of Plants.  2 nd  Ed.  Sinauer Associates, 2006.
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Mid-term I20%
Lab reports30%
Lab participation15%
Class participation10%
Final Exam25%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES:
  •  To familiarize students with the interactions between plants, between plants and their environment, and how these dynamics structure plant populations and communities
  • To familiarize students with the foundational concepts and approaches to the study of plant ecology
  • To lay the foundation for applied and quantitatively based studies in plant ecology
  • To do plant ecology by designing, collecting, and analyzing data at greenhouse, population, and landscape scales.
  • To appreciate the complexity of plants as living and adaptive organisms, and thereby appreciate God as creator and the challenges of meeting our mandate of being stewards of creation
COURSE OUTLINE: Part I. Introduction
  • The science of plant ecology
  • A brief refresher in botany, natural selection, ecology, and an introduction to plant ecology.
Part II. Topics in Population Ecology
  • Costs and benefits of different ways of moving your pollen.
  • Mechanisms and consequences of seed dispersal.
  • Phenotypic plasticity and the nature of plant behaviour.
  • Competition for soil resources
  • Self-thinning and size asymmetry
  • Genotypic/phenotypic plasticity
  • Life history strategies
Part III. Topics in Community Ecology
  • History of plant ecology
  • Interspecific competition and communities
  • Disturbance and the regeneration niche
  • Successional paradigms and mechanisms
  • Eat me – Herbivory and Pathogen Interactions
  • Patterns of species richness
Part IV. Terrestrial Communities and Applications
  • Sampling terrestrial populations and communities
  • Analysis of individual attributes, and population & community data
  • Terrestrial communities of Canada & the earth’s major biomes
  • Principles of grassland and forest management, and restoration
Part V. Stewardship of Creation and Ecology
  • Caring for creation in the context of ecological awareness informing plant population and community management (interwoven throughout course)
LAB OUTLINE:Tentative Lab Topics1
  • Competition experiment – individual scale, greenhouse
  • Seed ecology study – population scale, fieldwork
  • Forest age structure analysis – population scale, fieldwork
  • Lichen community diversity – community scale, field work
Skills
  • Forest Mensuration techniques
  • Experimental Design
  • Statistical analysis (ANOVA, multiple regression, ordination)
  • Scientific report writing
  • Evaluating the primary literature



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