|Instructor Info:||Charles Ross|
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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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
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