BIOL 103. Environmental Biology. (4)
An introduction to how the natural world works and of the scientific methods used to study the natural world.  Emphasis is on the study of ecology and the process and products of evolution.  Applications are made to the importance of biological diversity, and the impact of humans on the natural world and the methods used to understand and ameliorate such impacts.

Explanation:  Students are introduced to the topics of natural resource and biodiversity conservation, human population issues, and global climate change in lecture, laboratory exercises, films/documentaries, reading assignments, and class discussion.

Coverage: Length of coverage varies by instructor, but focus of the course is primarily environmental.

BIOL 103. Environmental Biology in Panama. (4)
An introduction to how the natural world works and of the scientific methods used to study the natural world.  Emphasis is on the study of ecology and the process and products of evolution.  Applications are made to the importance of biological diversity, and the impact of humans on the natural world and the methods used to understand and ameliorate such impacts.

Explanation:  This is a study-abroad field course in Panama offered in May. Students are introduced to the topics of ecosystem processes, adaptations of plants and animals to their environment, and natural resource and biodiversity conservation with an emphasis on tropical ecosystems.  These topics are explored via field trips (experimental stations, rainforests, coral reefs, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums), field research projects, films/documentaries, guest lectures and exercises, internet research, reading assignments, and class discussion.

Coverage: These topics are integrated throughout the course and occupy the bulk of the course work.

BIOL 104. Human Biology. (4)
An introduction to the basic principles of biology, with emphasis on human beings as biological organisms. Humans will be considered as products of evolution, as physiological systems, as reproducing entities, as members of their ecosystem, and as biological engineers able to change other organisms. The nature of scientific investigation will be stressed and current applications to biological technology and its effect on society will be considered.
Explanation:  Topics include relationship between plants and humans, impact of agriculture on the environment, human demography and its impact on natural systems.  Topics introduced by lecture, discussions, reading assignments, and lab exercises.
Coverage:  Length of coverage of environmental topics varies by instructor.

BIOL 131. Ecology and Adaptation. (4)
A study of the distribution, abundance, and diversity of organisms in nature.  The laboratory component will teach basic laboratory skills while enhancing students ability to conduct field sampling, observational studies, and experiments.
Explanation:  Students explore environmental issues such as biogeochemical cycles in ecosystems and the impact of human intervention in those processes resulting in environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and global climate change.  Conservation and ecosystem restoration is covered with an emphasis on the significance of biodiversity and the methods used in long-term maintenance and sustainability of ecosystems needed to support this diversity.  Lecture, discussions, reading assignments, laboratory exercises, and films/documentaries may be used to examine these topics.
Coverage: Length of coverage of these topics may vary by instructor, but occupies at least one-third of the course.

BIOL 215. Plants and Society. (4)
A study of autotrophic Monerans and Protists, Fungi, and Plants: classification, general structure and function, distribution and ecology,and economic importance.

Explanation: explores the ways plants and plant products (e.g., foods, beverages, herbs & spices, medicinal & recreational drugs, paper, fiber & wood products) have influenced human cultures both historically and today. We investigate plants and plant products by growing and tasting vegetables, herbs, spices, and other plants and exploring tropical and ethnobotanical plant collections in the RU Greenhouse. To provide necessary background for these topics, we discuss basic botanical topics – plant structure, growth, and nutrition; plant breeding and genetic modification; conservation of plant-based resources;  and the diversity of organisms traditionally studied by botanists. Course objectives are to increase student awareness and appreciation of the diversity plants and plant products most often used in human societies; (2) to explore the origins and historical and cultural contributions of economically important plants to human societies; and (3) to understand biological and evolutionary reasons why certain plant resources and certain plant groups are useful to humans.

BIOL 216. General Zoology. (4)
Introduces classifi cation, nomenclature, structure, function, development and evolution of the nonphotosynthetic protistans and the major animal phyla.

Explanation:  Although this course focuses on the natural history and taxonomy/ natural history of a wide range of organisms, many articles and stories discussing examples from a particular taxon focus on issues of conservation and applied management of that group. Furthermore, weekly student presentations on the particular group often discuss conservation-minded questions, emphasizing the ecological importance of their target group.
Coverage: Sustainability is not the focus of the course, but management and conservation of natural populations touched upon throughout.

BIOL 353/PSYC 353. Comparative Behavior. (3)
Study of animal behavior from viewpoints of zoology, ethology and comparative psychology. Emphasis on review of animal phyla for sensory capacities, motor capabilities and coordinating mechanisms; classification of behavioral traits; analysis of instinctive behavior, learned behavior, social behavior, animal communications and evolutionary significance of social organization.
Explanation:  Students are introduced to the application of behavioral studies to conservation through a reading assignment, lecture and a laboratory exercise.
Coverage:  Although not the focus of the course, this topic is touched upon in various places throughout the course as applicable , and is the focus of at least one lecture, and one reading assignment.

BIOL 380. Ornithology. (4)
Offered as an integrated lecture and laboratory/
field study emphasizing the evolution, anatomy, physiology, identification, behavior,
and ecology of birds. At least one weekend field trip will be scheduled.
Explanation: Ornithology is based on three main sections. Evolution: Major Orders of Birds introduces students to some of the differences, as well as similarities, among some of the major Orders of birds, concentrating on those that inhabit the continental United States. Anatomy and Physiology: The Biology of Birds provides an overview of respiration, skeletal and muscular arrangement, flight and feathers, and other basic biological attributes of birds.  Avian Conservation: This section covers field studies and how to recognize, design, and conduct basic studies that will add to conservation efforts.  Included in this section are the political and biological consideration of the US migratory bird refuge system.

BIOL383. Molecular Forensics (4).  A survey of how molecular genetic tools are used to investigate forensic and ecological processes in human and natural populations. Specific topics will include methods for studying genetic variation at the protein and DNA levels, quantitative predictions from ecological and evolutionary theory, and application of molecular genetic markers to questions related to individual/population/species identification, gene flow, genetic drift, and non-random mating.  Laboratory portion includes a study of Deer diversity using molecular markers (mitochondrial DNA and DNA fingerprinting).

BIOL 390. Conservation Biology. (3)
Examines the importance of biodiversity to the global environment. Students will gain an appreciation of the complexity of biotic communities associated with important ecosystems and will examine man€™s role in influencing these communities. Current controversies regarding species preservation will be explored through readings and discussion.
Explanation:  Students are introduced to the importance of maintaining biodiversity at all levels from genetic to ecosystem.  Techniques for monitoring, conserving, and restoring biodiversity are examined via lecture, class exercises, assigned reading, video clips, and class discussion.
Coverage:  Conservation of biodiversity is the focus of this course, and fully integrated into every aspect.

BIOL 392. Pollution Biology. (4)
Designed to provide Biology majors with an understanding of important pollution problems facing society, and to provide the student with practical experience in environmental sampling and analysis.
Explanation: Issues stemming from anthropogenic chemical release into the environment are explored, including environmental legislation, methods in toxicology, routes of exposure, ecotoxicology, modes of action/sources/consequences of common pollutants via lectures, class discussion of primary literature, and student-driven independent research projects.
Coverage: Entire course is devoted to the coverage of these topics.

BIOL 423. General Ecology. (4)
An integrated field and laboratory study of living organisms and how they are affected by living and nonliving factors in their environment. Emphasis on the study of natural populations and communities and factors governing their distribution and abundance.
Explanation:  Topics include the distribution, diversity, and function of natural populations, communities, ecosystems, and biogeochemical cycles, as well as humanity€™s impacts upon them, including pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change.  These topics are covered via lecture, laboratory exercises, reading assignments, and class discussion.
Coverage: These topics are integrated into every aspect of the course.

BIOL 464. Vertebrate Zoology. (4)
An introduction to vertebrate zoology including an examination of origin; class characteristics; evolution; and adaptations of body form, locomotion, feeding, protective, spacing, social, reproductive, activity cycles and special adaptations for various types of habitats. Emphasis on collection, preservation and identification of vertebrates.
Explanation: This class focuses on the natural history and taxonomy/classification of vertebrate groups, and class discussions invariably touch upon conservation issues – e.g., how past management of a taxon has affected its stability in today’s’ environment. Current and future management decisions are discussed in light of anthropogenic alterations to habitat and the future land needs of humans. The laboratory portion of the course focuses on field techniques, which are completed ethically and emphasize that a better understanding of a species in its natural environs leads to improved conservation decisions.
Coverage:  Sustainability is not the focus of the course, but management and conservation of natural populations touched upon throughout.

BIOL 476. Field Botany. (4)
An integrated lecture and field/laboratory course focusing on the identification, classification, and evolutionary relationships of vascular plants in the eastern United States, with emphasis on the Virginia flora and field and herbarium techniques.
Explanation: a field-oriented, applied course focusing on biological concepts and skills used by environmental scientists, naturalists, plant ecologists, foresters, and wildlife biologists. Emphasis is on identification and recognition of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers of the southern Appalachians and understanding of ecological factors influencing the distribution and dynamics of plant communities in this region. After successfully completing this course, students should be able to recognize common trees and shrubs of the eastern US by sight, use dichotomous keys to identify native and naturalized woody and herbaceous plant species, distinguish ecologically important plant families and ecological communities, and implement field sampling and analytical techniques used to study vegetation and associated environmental issues.

BIOL 481. Special Topics in Biology: Tropical Ecology (4)
This is a travel abroad course to the Virgin Islands.  During the semester, class meets weekly on campus to discuss tropical habitats and organisms that will likely be encountered during the trip.  Over spring break, the class travels to St. John where they stay at the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station to explore tropical forests, mangroves, and coral reefs.
Explanation: Topics include the examination of tropical marine ecosystems, marine reserve creation, management, and evaluation, nutrient pollution impacts on coastal ecosystems (seagrass/reef), water and sewage issues, and threats to biota from rampant development.  These topics are explored via reading assignments, class discussion, and guest speakers.

Coverage: The focus of the course is on the study of tropical ecosystems.  A small portion, 1 class period, and 2 hours of field trip is devoted to ecosystem conservation.


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