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Course Information

Instructor Info:Charles Ross
Office Extension x5576
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Cole Science Center 2-OPEN
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Cole Science Center 2-OPEN

Molecular ecology utilizes the spatial and temporal distribution of molecular genetic markers to ask questions about the ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation of organisms. This science may utilize genetic variation to understand individuals, populations, and species as a whole ("How does habitat fragmentation affect connectedness among populations?"; "From where do particular groups originate?"). Similarly, genetic patterns may reveal information about interactions of organisms ("How much interbreeding occurs among populations?"; "How monogamous or promiscuous are individuals?"). Molecular ecologists also utilize specific genes to investigate how organisms respond and adapt to their environments ("How do genetically modified organisms escape into natural environments?"). We will read background and primary literature in this field to understand how molecular ecology can answer basic and applied questions about organisms. Students will research specific applications of this discipline and present their findings in written and oral format.

Course Objectives:

My goals in this course are the following:

1) help you learn the subject matter of molecular ecology,

2) help you learn how to be a scientist, or how science is done,

3) help you learn how to think critically,

4) help you learn how to write,

5) provide you with a general enthusiasm for molecular ecology. 

Some of these goals are general to your college education and some specific to this class.  You should ruminate what are your goals for this class and how best to accomplish them.

Evaluation Criteria:

Your evaluation will reflect:

- Your work on the assignments (see below),

- Class attendance/participation/discussion 


•Two-part research review and proposal.  

•Oral presentation of your research paper.  

•Other assignments

You occasionally will be asked to lead a discussion of the reading for the class. 

There occasionally may be a short exercise or “thought dump”. 

Additional Info:

No text formally assigned, but as references:

An Introduction to Molecular Ecology by Beebee and Rowe

Molecular Ecology by Freeland, Peterson, and Kirk


To do science is to search for repeated patterns, not simply to accumulate facts.

-       Robert MacArthur, Geographical Ecology, 1972


There are worse sins for a scientist than to be wrong. One is to be trivial.”

-       Robert MacArthur