ESRM 450: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

 

Quarter: Winter 2014

Times: MW 10:30-11:50 (lecture), W 3:30-4:50 (section AA), W 5:00-6:20 (section AB)

Locations: FISH 108 (lecture); Anderson 306 (lab)

Course website: http://www.sefs.washington.edu/classes.esrm.450/Syllabus.htm

Course listserve: esrm450a_wi14@uw.edu

 

Instructor

 

Aaron Wirsing (AW), School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (http://www.sefs.washington.edu), Winkenwerder 101, (206) 543-1585, wirsinga@uw.edu

 

Office hours: Wednesday 1:30-3:20 or by appointment

 

Teaching Assistant

 

Laurel Peelle, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Winkenwerder 110a, laurelp@uw.edu

 

Office hours: by appointment

 

Course goals

 

One of the biggest challenges facing wildlife ecologists is to understand patterns of animal distribution, abundance, and diversity. Having covered the basics of wildlife ecology in ESRM 350, or assuming that you have covered these basics in other courses, I will use this upper-level course to furnish you with a more in-depth understanding of core concepts, new ideas, and advanced research methods that will help you to address this challenge. Our training as ecologists must enable us to identify and tackle pressing wildlife conservation issues.  Thus, I will also seek to increase your understanding of local, regional, and global wildlife conservation problems and the means by which the ecological concepts broached in this course can be applied to help solve them.

 

Teaching approach

 

The course will be lecture based, but will also include in-class discussions and exercises to promote learning via interaction between students and instructors and especially among students.

 

 

 

 

Readings

 

There is no required text for this course. Notes for each lecture are available for download on the course website (see above).  I encourage you to download the notes before class and then embellish them during lecture.

 

“Five-minute” papers

 

Near the end of each lecture, I will ask you to take a few minutes to reflect on the day’s topic and jot down an observation or follow-up question.  These mini-papers will not be graded, but I will expect them to be thoughtful and will use them as the basis for one-half of your course participation grade (see below).

 

Exams

 

There will be two in-class exams: exam one will cover the first half of the course material, and the second exam will cover the latter half (i.e., will be non-cumulative).  Both exams will feature a short answer format and ask you to synthesize and critically evaluate course concepts.

 

Discussion sessions

 

Weekly laboratory sessions (Wednesdays) will serve as a forum for students to discuss and critique papers from the scientific literature that illustrate and apply course concepts.  Students will enroll in one of two discussion sections (AA or AB), each of which will meet for 80 minutes.  During each section meeting, students will be expected to actively participate in the discussion and are strongly encouraged to bring anecdotes and experiences that are relevant to the discussion topic. Our first meeting will take place on Wednesday the 15th of January. I will begin it by briefly introducing the discussion format and outlining my expectations for the writing assignment (see below). We will then hold the first of seven topical discussions (papers for these discussions are available for download on the course website). You will be expected to choose one of the seven papers we discuss as the basis for a formal review, or in other words a paper (8-10 double-spaced pages plus an additional page or two for references) that does the following: (1) identifies and describes the problem (what is the major issue or ecological process being addressed?) and provides some background (What do we know so far about the issue, and what are some other major papers that have addressed it?), 2) identifies the paper’s strengths and weaknesses and places it into context (is the paper novel and important, and how does it compare with other recent papers on the topic? Would you recommend that the paper be published if you a reviewer for a scientific journal?), (3) recommends ways to improve the study, and (4) offers ideas for future research that builds on the results of the study. I would like each of you to submit a rough draft to me by the end of the day (5 pm) on Friday, Mar-7 for preliminary (non-graded) evaluation; rough drafts will be returned to you with suggestions for improvement by the morning of Mar-12. Final papers are due by 5 pm on Wednesday, Mar-19.  All submissions are to be electronic (please email preliminary and final drafts to me at wirsinga@uw.edu).

 

Grading

 

Your final grade will be determined by the quality of your course participation (i.e., submission of insights/questions at end of each lecture and contribution to lab discussion), the two exams, and the final paper.  Excused absences and prior notification are required to receive make-up exams or to delay the submission of your final paper.  It is your responsibility to let me know that you will be unable to take an exam or turn in the final paper on time.  If you fail to do so, you will not receive credit for the missed assignment.  Points will be assigned as follows:

 

Course participation: 100 points (50% for five-minute papers, 50% for lab discussion)

Exams: 100 points each

Final paper: 100 points

Total: 400 points

 

Final grades will be assigned according to the following scale:

 

A = 3.5-4.0, 90-95+%, 360-380+ points

B = 2.5-3.4, 80-89%, 320-359 points

C = 1.5-2.4, 70-79%, 280-319 points

D = 0.7-1.4, 60-69%, 240-279 points

F < 0.7, < 60%, 0-239 points

 

Academic integrity


Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of your contract as a student. We expect that you will know and follow the University's policies on cheating and plagiarism. Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University regulations. More information, including definitions and examples, can be found at:  http://depts.washington.edu/grading/issue1/honesty.htm <http://depts.washington.edu/grading/issue1/honesty.htm>
 
Disability accommodations


To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so we can discuss the accommodations needed for this class.

 

This course is offered in accordance with UW College of the Environment (http://www.coenv.washington.edu) privacy (http://www.washington.edu/online/privacy) and terms (http://www.washington.edu/online/terms) policies.


Lecture schedule

 


Date

General Topic

Lecture

1/6

 

Course overview (AW)

1/8

Habitat Use and Foraging

 

Habitat use, selection and preference (AW)

1/13

The economics of foraging (AW)

1/15

The economics of foraging (AW)

1/20

 

NO LECTURE – HOLIDAY

1/22

Competition

Interspecific competition: exploring the niche concept (AW)

1/27

Intraspecific competition as a driver of individual differences (AW)

1/29

EXAM I

2/3

Consumptive Predator Effects

Functional, numerical, and total responses (AW)

2/5

Non-consumptive Predator Effects

Risk effects and the ecology of fear (AW)

2/10

Condition-dependent risk taking (AW)

2/12

Indirect Predator Effects

Consumptive and non-consumptive indirect effects (AW)

2/17

 

NO LECTURE – HOLIDAY

2/19

Indirect Predator Effects

Consumptive and non-consumptive indirect effects (AW)

2/24

Population Dynamics

Density dependence and regulation (AW)

2/26

What drives population cycles? (AW)

3/3

Metapopulation Dynamics

Metapopulations I (AW)

3/5

GUEST LECTURE

TBA

3/10

Metapopulation Dynamics

Metapopulations II (AW)

3/12

EXAM 2

 

 


Lab (discussion) schedule

 


Date

General Topic

Lab Discussion (Wed)

1/8

NO DISCUSSION

1/15

Introduction, Habitat Use and Foraging

Overview of discussion format and explanation of the writing assignment

 

Discussion:

Cougar space use and movements in the wildland–urban landscape of western Washington

 (Kertson et al. 2011)

 

1/22

Habitat Use and Foraging

Discussion:

Linking habitat selection and predation risk to spatial variation in survival

(DeCesare et al. 2014)

1/29

Competition

Discussion:

Ecological release from interspecific competition leads to decoupled changes in population and individual niche width

(Bolnick et al. 2010)

2/5

Consumptive Predator Effects

Discussion:

Selection of northern Yellowstone elk by gray wolves and hunters

(Wright et al. 2006)

2/12

Non-consumptive Predator Effects

Discussion:

Perceived predation risk reduces the number of offspring songbirds produce per year

(Zanette et al. 2011)

2/19

Indirect Predator Effects

Discussion:

Fearing the feline: domestic cats reduce avian fecundity through trait-mediated indirect effects that increase nest predation by other species (Bonnington et al. 2013)

2/26

Population Dynamics

Discussion:

Changes in relative abundance of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) across a 265-year gradient of boreal forest succession

(Hodson et al. 2007)

3/5

NO DISCUSSION – WORK ON PAPERS

(TA AVAILABLE FOR QUESTIONS IN WINK 110a)

3/7

PAPER ROUGH DRAFTS DUE AT END OF DAY (5 PM) FOR PRELIMINARY EVALUATION

3/12

PAPERS RETURNED WITH COMMENTS

3/19

FINAL PAPERS DUE BY END OF DAY (5 PM)