BIOLOGY 4AA3 - Conservation Biology
2005-06 Course Outline
Biology Department, McMaster University – Winter Term, 2006
Revised: 17 December 2005
Dr Ben Evans
Assistant Professor, LSB 328, Biology Department, McMaster University
Email: Please use 4AA3 email on WebCT system; please do not email instructor directly
Graduate Student, LSB 504, Biology Department, McMaster University
Course Learning Objectives
The objectives of this course are to explore and learn the theory and practice of conservation
biology and biodiversity issues, develop ability to interpret primary scientific literature and effectively
communicate information on topics in conservation biology. We will also gain familiarity with
practical aspects of conservation projects.
Lectures will examine how biological principles from population genetics, phylogenetics, and ecology
can be applied to conserving diversity in the natural world. Students are responsible for all content
discussed or assigned in readings and lectures (regular or guest). Attendance on all field trips and all
laboratories is mandatory. We will be using the WebCT course tools of McMaster University.
Laboratory sessions will include some field trips, lectures by the instructor, and student presentations
in the second half of the semester. Content covered in laboratory sessions will be included in
Lectures: M, W 10:30-11:30
Labs: F 2:30-5:30 BSB 135. Laboratory sessions will not meet every week, and they also will not
always be in this room. Consult WebCT for updated schedule.
Sessional Dates, Winter term 2006
First Day of Class: January 3
Last Day for Drop & Add: January 12
Mid-Term Recess (no classes or labs): February 20–25
Test and Exam Ban (no tests or examinations may be held): March 30 – April 6
Last Day of Class: April 5
Final Exams: Friday April 7 – April 26
Weekly readings will be assigned and distributed as PDF files through webCT.
The course grade will be based on the following:
Final exam: 35%
Participation in class discussion, attendance at labs and lectures 10%
Student presentations 10%
Position paper (2-3 single-spaced pages) 10%
Exams will consist of short-answer conceptual questions that test student understanding (not
memorization) of course material. The final exam will be comprehensive – it will emphasize the
second half of the semester but also include material from the first half.
Presentations and position papers will be on the same topic, which will be chosen by the
student in consultation with the instructor. The presentation and position paper will synthesize
information from at least 2 political or scientific publications related to conservation biology that have
different opinions, results, or perspectives. The presentation and position paper should (1) provide
pertinent background information, (2) summarize both sides of the controversial issue, and (2) provide
and substantiate an opinion about which side is correct, preferred, or better. Presentations and position
papers should attempt to provide a novel synthesis of a topic and/or to teach or present a topic from
a unique perspective. Presentations will be no longer than 15 minutes in length and followed by a
few minutes of class discussion and will be given in a lab session in the second half of the term. The
position paper is due on the last day of classes.
2C03 (Genetics); and one of 3FF3 (Biology), 3SS3 (Population Ecology) or 3TT3 (Community
Expression of Grades
Percentage marks will be used throughout this course. The final grade will be reported to the
University as a Letter Grade using McMaster University's standard scale for the conversion of
percentages to letters.
Changes To This Outline
The instructor reserves the right to change the means by which our course objectives are to be
achieved, but this will not occur either precipitously or without reasonable notice to the students
enrolled in the course. Such changes could result, for example, from new ideas emerging as the course
develops and/or from particular arrangements discussed between instructor and students.
The McMaster Standard Calculator may be used in exams for this course.
We refer all students to the McMaster University Senate Policies for the standards of honesty
expected for this course, including:
• Senate Resolutions on Academic Dishonesty
• Statement of Academic Ethics
• Absence/Missed Academic Work Policy
We follow the McMaster University Senate Policies on Absence/Missed Academic Work. To avoid
penalty, students who miss a published due date for any assignment or any examination are required to
provide acceptable documentation to their Dean of Studies as to why the assignment or exam was
missed. Once such documentation has been provided, the University will inform the Instructor. The
Instructor and the student then can reach an agreement as to how to handle any required revision to
grading. An exam or assignment completely missed without reason will be recorded as a grade of 0%.
Late assignments will be penalized. In most cases we cannot offer makeup exams.