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Earth & Environmental Science Department

Lehigh University

Office: 114 Williams
Phone: 610-758-6580




Conservation & Biodiversity, EES-028, 3 credits

**Next offered Spring 2016**

Course overview

This course provides students with an introduction to earth and environmental sciences through the study of conservation biology. Fundamental ecological and environmental topics, such as natural selection, basic genetics, general earth history, global climate processes, and the organization and history of life are covered as we examine global patterns of biodiversity, the evolution of biodiversity, threats to biodiversity, and assess strategies for management and conservation. Students gain the scientific literacy necessary to make informed decisions about topics such as wilderness preservation, species conservation, and land use.

Course structure

In addition to traditional lectures, case-study activities and small-group discussions teach students the scientific method and critical-thinking skills. The students also read and discuss a popular science book that manages to successfully convey somefundamental principles of ecology in an easy-to-read fashion. Weekly podcasts of conservation-related news and scientific advances are provided; these emphasize the relevancy of the course material, and provide a springboard for class discussion and student writing assignments. I recently experimented with adding a social media component to the course to facilitate idea sharing and outside-of-class communication among students. This was very successful, in ways that I had not anticipated (see here for details:

Example schedule (Spring 2011)


PODCASTS (**Required)

1/17 M No class (attend MLK day event)
1/19 W

What is the problem?

Conservation, preservation, environmentalism, and ecology.

1/21 F What is biodiversity? What is conservation biology? Life, scientific nomenclature, and classification. (Q) Section 1, "Thirty-six Persian throw rugs" p. 11-13. **Biodiversity, NPR Science Friday, Sept 2002, (~48 min)
1/24 M Species diversity I. What is a species? How many species are there?

**The Smaller Majority, NPR Science Friday, 4 Nov 05 (~17 min)

Excerpt from What's In A Latin Name: The Legacy of Linnaeus, from Scientific American Podcast, 26 Dec 2007. (~7 min)

1/26 W Species diversity II. Why do we care about species diversity?

**Dormant for 2,000 Years, an Ancient Seed Sprouts, NPR Day to Day, 15 Jun 05 (~4 min)

**Prospecting beneath the seas, NPR All things considered, 11 Feb 03 (~ 4 min)

Gecko Toes Inspire Design of New Medical Bandage, NPR Science Friday, 22 Feb 2008 (~13 min)

1/28 F Species diversity III. Measuring species diversity

**Tallying America's Tweeters--The Feathered Ones, NPR Science Friday, 24 Dec 10 (~10 min)

**In Britain, a census goes deep into the woods, NPR Morning edition, 03 Sep 09 (~5 min)

Scientists count New York's Cricket population, NPR All things considered, 4 Sep 09 (~4 min)

New Discoveries in Deep-Sea Biodiversity, NPR Science Friday, 12 Oct 2007 (~13 min)

1/31 M Ecosystem and community diversity I. Distribution of biomes and global climate. **Worlds of bacteria, alive on your skin, NPR All things considered, 28 May 09 (~4 min)
2/02 W Class cancelled due to late opening of university (weather)

**Why ecosystem services matter? Scientific American Podcast, 5 Feb 09 (~2 min)

**Deforestation Boosts Malaria Rates, NPR Morning edition, 5 Jan 06 (~5 min)

**West Nile Virus and Bird diversity, Scientific American, 10 Oct 08 (~2 min)

2/04 F Ecosystem and community diversity II. Energy, nutrient cycling, and ecosystem services 'Remarkable Creatures' Behind Darwin's Discoveries, NPR Science Friday, 20 Mar 09 (~48 min)
2/07 M Discussion #1: The origins of conservation biology. Darwin, Wallace, and the science of biogeography. (Q) Section II, "The man who knew islands" p. 17-114
2/09 W Genetic diversity I. Natural and sexual selection.

**Bird feeders speed up evolution, may split species, NPR Science Friday, 4 Dec 2009 (~13 min)

**Natural and sexual selection in a wild population of crickets, Science Magazine Podcast, 4 June 2010 (~10 min).

2/11 F Genetic diversity II. Sexual selection, genetics, and conservation genetics. **Doomsday' Seed Vault Opens in the Arctic, 7 Mar 2008, NPR Science Friday (~16 min)
2/14 M Global patterns of biodiversity and island biogeography (Q) First half of Section III, "So huge a bignes" p. 117-194
2/16 W History and biogeography

Peerless Pterosaur Could Fly Long-Distance For Days, NPR Morning Edition, 22 Nov 10 (3 min)

Great Dying Crater, NPR Science Friday, 14 May 2004. (~16 min)

Fossilized Feathers Hint At Dinosaur Color, NPR Science Friday, 5 Feb 2010. (~5 min)

**Fungus provides clues to North American Extinctions, NPR Morning Edition, 20 Nov 09 (~3 min)

**'Genetic Fossils' Change Extinction Picture, NPR Science Friday, 18 Dec 09 (~7 min)

2/18 F

Overview of threats to biodiversity

Overexploitation I

**Future of Fish, NPR Science Friday, Nov 2006 (~34 min)

**Scientists Say Some Fisheries Are Recovering, NPR Science Friday, 31 Jul 09 (~6 min)

Lower Tuna limit still too high, researchers say, All things considered, 16 Nov 09 (~4 min)

**DNA 'Barcode' to help nab illegal wildlife traders, All things considered, 14 Sep 09 (~5 min)

2/21 M Activity #1, "The 6th mass extinction event?"

Welcome to the Anthropocene Epoch, NPR All things considered, 16 Feb 08 (~5 min)

**Mass Extinction Event On the Horizon? NPR Science Friday, 15 Aug 08 (~18 min)

2/23 W Discussion #2: Evolution on islands Q) Second half of Section III, "So huge a bignes" p. 194-258
2/25 F **EXAM 1**    
2/28 M Overexploitation II, Pollution

**Hunters And Fishermen Accelerate Species Evolution, NPR Science Friday, 16 Jan 09 (~12 min)

**Pacific trash, NPR news, 2008 (~6 min)

SEAPLEX Mission To Visit 'Garbage Patch', NPR Science Friday, 31 Jul 09 (~6 min)

Study Waves Cautionary Flag About Nanotubes, NPR Science Friday, 23 Mar 09 (~25 min)

**Manure, fertilizer part of Chesapeake"s problem, NPR All Things Considered, 24 Dec 09. (~7 min)

3/02 W Activity #2, Does the Herbicide Atrazine Feminize Male Frogs?" (Q) First half of Section IV, "Rarity unto death" p. 261-324

**Common Pesticide Turns Male Frogs Female, KUER Local News, 18 Jan 08 (~6 min)

**Common Weedkiller May Cause Hormonal Problems, NPR Science Friday, 9 May 08 (~9 min)

3/04 F Review of activity #2 and go over exams.  
-------- SPRING BREAK ------------
3/14 M Global climate change

**Warming planet means more snow?, NPR news, 18 Feb 2010 (~4 min)


3/16 W Ecological impacts of climate change

**Higher temperatures may be behind pine growth, NPR All things considered, 18 Nov 09 (~4 min)

**Climate change and frogs, NPR Science Friday, 2006 (~12 min)

**Checking in on the toad of Monteverde, NPR All things considered, 18 Feb 08 (~7 min)

**Climate change and climate zones, NPR Science Friday, 30 March 2007 (~12 min)

Giant lobsters from rising greenhouse gases? NPR All things considered, 12 Dec 09 (~4 min)

Climate change and parks, NPR Science Friday, 2007

**Climate Change And Species Movement, NPR Science Friday, 10 Oct 08 (~13 min)

Climate Change Taking A Toll On The Arctic, NPR Science Friday, 11 Sep 09 (~9 min)

3/18 F Invasive species

**Trouble with earthworms, NPR Science Friday, 23 Mar 07 (~15 min)

Spreading lionfish invasion threatens Bahamas, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday, 8 Aug 09 (~5 min)

**Chicago canal flooded with toxin to kill Asian Carp, NPR All things considered, 4 Dec 09 (~4 min)

It's open season on Florida's Pythons, Weekend Edition Saturday, 15 Aug 09 (~4 min)

Berry Bad: threat to trees lurks on Holiday tables, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday, 21 Nov 09 (~3 min)

3/21 M Activity #3: "The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: Examining The Scientific Process"

**Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Suspended, KUAF Public Radio, 23 Oct 2009 (~7 min)

**Update on the Ivory Bill Woodpecker. Science Magazine Podcast 17 Aug 2007. (~7min)

3/23 W Discussion #3: Rarity, extinction, and invasive species (Q) Second half of section IV, "Rarity unto death" p. 324-380
3/25 F Habitat destruction and fragmentation

**As fences cut off migration, hoofed species decline, NPR All things considered, 9 Jun 09 (~5 min)

Renewable energy needs land, lots of land, NPR Morning edition, 28 Aug 09 (~ 4 min)

Saving Bats From Wind-Farm Deaths, NPR Science Friday, 2 Oct 09 (~13 min)

3/28 M Habitat fragmentation, cumulative impacts, and human population growth.

**Predicting the Future of Reefs in Peril, NPR Science Friday, 2007 (~12 min)

**Millennium ecosystem assessment report, NPR Science Friday, Apr 2005 (~29 min)

Predicting tipping points, Nature Podcast, 3 Sep 09 (~6 min)

3/30 W Approaches to the conservation of biodiversity and historical perspectives. Legal protection at the species level: The Endangered Species Act, CITES

Ohio's burning river in better health 40 years later, NPR All things considered, 22 Jun 09 (~5 min)

Smog deaths in 1948 led to clean air laws, NPR All things considered, 22 Apr 09 (~4 min)

**Trade In Endangered Species Debated, NPR Science Friday, 26 Mar 2010. (~13 min)

4/01 F **EXAM 2**    
4/04 M Discussion #4: A dynamic equilibrium and the species-area relationship. (Q) Section V, "Preston"s Bell" p. 385-405 and Section VI, "The coming thing" p. 409-447
4/06 W

Fine-filter approach

Applied population ecology I: monitoring populations and assessing extinction risk

Bald Eagle Leaves Endangered Species List, NPR All Things Considered, 28 June 2007 (~5 min)

Idaho Resumes Hunting of Grey Wolves, NPR All things considered, 1 Sep 09 (~4 min)

Bid to reverse Bush-era environmental policies, NPR All things considered, 31 Mar 09 (~5 min)

US scraps Bush Logging Plan, NPR Al things considered, 16 Jul 09 (~3 min)

**Drought, politics trouble farmers in California, NPR Morning Edition, 11 May 09 (~8 min)

4/08 F Go over exams. **Endangered Species Act Discussion, NPR Science Friday, 17 March 2006. (~47 min)
4/11 M

Fine-filter approach

Applied population ecology II: management and establishment of populations

**Planes train endangered cranes to migrate, NPR Environment, 29 Jan 19 (~3 min)
4/13 W

Fine-filter approach

Ex situ conservation

Study Finds Elephants In Zoos Live Shorter Lives, NPR Science Friday, 12 Dec 08 (~23 min)
4/15 F

Coarse-filter approach

Protecting ecosystems

**Wetlands show effect of court"s last decision, NPR All Things Considered, 21 Feb 2006. (~5 min)

**Divided Supreme Court Rules on Wetlands Law, NPR All things considered, 19 June 2006. (~6 min)

Protecting Peru's Amazingly Diverse Amazon Region, NPR All things considered, 17 Sep 09 (~9 min)

Bush Declares Marine Preserves in Pacific, NPR Morning Edition, 6 Jan 09 (~4 min)

4/18 M Discussion/Activity #5: Reserve design and minimum viable population size.

(Q) Section VIII, "Song of the indri" p. 501-545

(Q) Section VII, "The hedgehog of the amazon" p. 451-498.

4/20 W

Coarse-filter approach

Protecting and managing ecosystems

Reef conservation strategy backfires, NPR All things considered, 18 Nov 09 (~5 min)
4/22 F

Coarse-filter approach

Restoring ecosystems

**Pleistocene re-wilding, NPR Science Friday, Aug 2005, " (~20 min)

**Pleistocene Parks, Nature Podcast, 5 Nov 09 (~6 min)

Everglades restoration project finally breaks ground, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday, 6 Dec 09 (~4 min)

In one Brazilian farm town, reviving the forest, NPR Morning Edition, 15 Dec 09 (~8 min)

4/25 M Conservation insights from paleoecology and historical ecology **Are River Restoration Efforts Misguided? NPR All things considered, 19 Jan 08 (~4 min)
4/27 W Conservation and sustainable development

Economics of ecosystems and biodiversity, Nature Podcast, 18 Nov 09 (~13 min)

Native Plants Bring Wildlife To The Garden, Science Friday, 22 May 09 (~26 min)

Paint The Town White, NPR Science Friday, 17 Jul 09 (~12 min)

Is It Better to Eat Locally or Eat Differently?, NPR Science Friday, 9 May 08 (~12 min)

4/29 F Discussion #7: A world in pieces. Course review. Course evaluations.

(Q) Section IX, "World in pieces" p. 549-602

(Q) Section X, "Message from Aru" p. 605-625 and "Author"s note" p. 634-636

**Edward O. Wilson, Bridging Science and Religion, NPR Science Friday, 8 sep 06 (~31 min)
5/04-5/12 **Final Exam during finals week**

*sources of pictures in uppermost banner include from left to right: the cover of "Song of the Dodo" by D. Quammen, the Lorax by Dr. Seuss, dead mangroves near Cairnes, Australia (personal photo), radiated tortoise (personal photo), and a wildlife overpass in Banff National Park (from the cover of "Conservation Biology" by R.B. Primack).