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    INSTRUCTOR Dr. Ann Throckmorton, Associate Professor of Biology

                                Office:  215 Hoyt Science Center
                                Phone:  946-7209
                                e-mail:  athrock@westminster.edu
                                Home Page: www.westminster.edu/staff/athrock

                                Office Hours:
                                            Monday, Friday 11:40 - 12:30
                                            Thursday 11:00 - 12:00
                                            or by appointment


    This is a classroom and field course on the ecology, natural history, geology, history, and culture of Belize, Central America.  It is clustered with History 171, Latin America to 1825, and includes 20 days of travel from December 30th to January 18th, 2001.  In the classroom, basic ecological principles will be studied to see how they apply to tropical ecosystems and organisms, concentrating on important tropical ecosystems such as rain forests, coral reefs, mangroves, and savannas.  In Belize, information from the classroom will be used to understand the biological, geological, and cultural observations that are made as we travel throughout the country.   In addition, culturally significant places in Belize and Guatemala will be studied and the ethical and cultural dilemmas of life in a developing tropical country will be discussed.

    LECTURE   Wednesday  6:30 - 9:00, 166 Hoyt Science Center

    Attendance in lecture is expected.  If you miss class, it is your responsibility to find out what you have missed and to make arrangements for getting lecture notes and making up assignments.   If you know ahead of time that you will be absent, you should contact me so that we can make arrangements for making up what you will miss.


    A Neotropical Companion, by John Kricher, 1997 (2nd edition, Princeton University Press)

    A Naturalist's Guide to the Tropics, by Marco Lambertini, 2000 (2nd edition, University of Chicago Press)


    You will be given separate grades for Bio 520 and Bio 521.  For Bio 520, grades will be based on lecture exams, assignments, and an individual presentation and paper, weighted as follows:

    lecture exams  70% of final grade
    assignments  10% of final grade
    individual presentation 20% of final grade

    Your final grade will be based on the following scale:

    Above 93%: A 87% - 90%: B+ 77% - 80%: C+ 67% - 70%: D+ Below 60%: F
    90% - 93%: A- 83% - 87%: B 73% - 77%: C 63% - 77%: D .
    . 80% - 83%: B- 70% - 73%: C- 60% - 73%: D- .

    You will receive more information about the requirements for Bio 521 prior to leaving for Belize.


    1. Lectures and discussion:  This will follow the tentative schedule printed below.  I expect you to attend class, pay attention, and participate actively in discussions by answering questions, asking questions, and making comments.  You will get more out of the lecture if you have read the material in the textbook ahead of time.
    1. Reading:  The textbooks that l have chosen provide a good general introduction to tropical ecology.  A Neotropical Companion will serve as your primary textbook.  Most of the topics that we will approach in the class are covered by the book.  Thus, it will serve to augment lecture and to provide material for discussion.  The second book, A naturalist's guide to the tropics, is more general and less scientific.  We will use readings from it to supplement the other book.  In addition, everyone will carry this book with them when we go to Belize.
    1. Assignments:  Occasionally, you will be given small assignments.  In most cases, these will relate to the material that we will be discussing in class next week.  Their purpose is to prepare you for the discussion or to give you more information or a different viewpoint on the material that is covered in the book.
    1. Individual presentation and paper:  Each person in the class will be responsible for preparing an in-class presentation on a plant or animal that we expect to see in Belize.  Essentially, each person will become the class expert on one particular organism so that when we observe the plants and animals in Belize, at least one person in the group will know everything there is to know about each organism.  In addition, you will write a paper (minimum eight pages) that will be due at the end of the semester.  During the second week of class, you will receive a list of organisms from which to choose.  After everyone has selected their organism, I will schedule the talks, matching the organisms to appropriate lecture topics.

    Unless otherwise stated, assignments should be turned in by 5:00 p.m. on the day that they are due.  Occasionally, assignments will be due before class.  Late assignments will be accepted but a late penalty will apply; the number of points subtracted will vary in proportion to the time elapsed since the due date.

    There are three ways that assignments may be submitted:  1)  a hard copy given to me or placed under my office door;  2)  an attachment on e-mail;  3)  saved in the Assignment folder on the course r-drive.  If you choose to save an assignment to the r-drive, the name of the file must include your name and the name of the assignment (e.g., John Smith, Assignment #1).  Options #2 and #3 are preferred.

    All quizzes and tests should be taken at the scheduled time. You will not be allowed to take a make-up test unless you have notified me of your absence prior to the test.

    I expect students to work independently on exams and assignments that are not specifically labeled as group assignments.  Plagiarism on written exercises or cheating on exams will earn you an automatic 0 for that particular assignment.


    08/30 Introduction to the course
    Defining the tropics
    Kricher: pp. 3-6
    Lambertini:  chapter 1
    Seasons and solstices
    09/06 Tropical climates, ecosystems, and soils

    Rain forest structure and diversity

    Kricher: chapter 1
    Lambertini:  chapter 2 and 3
    Kricher:  chapter 2
    Lambertini:  pp. 33-41
    Tropical climates
    09/13 Rain forest structure and diversity (continued)
    How a rain forest functions
    Kricher:  chapter 2
    Kricher:  chapter 3
    Rain forests
    Rain forest information
    09/20 How a rain forest functions (continued) Kricher:  chapter 3
    Lambertini:  chapter 7
    09/27 Coral reefs Kricher:  pp. 247-250
    Lambertini:  chapter 8
    10/04 Mangroves and seagrass beds


    Kricher:  pp. 239-246
    Lambertini:  chapter 6
    Mangrove adaptations
    10/11 Savannas and dry forests
    Karst, sinkholes, and caves
    Kricher:  chapter 10
    Lambertini:  chapter 9
    Karst and caves
    10/18 Exam #1 . .
    10/25 Rivers Kricher:  chapter 8 Sibun River, Belize
    Costa Rican streams
    11/01 Evolutionary patterns in the tropics Kricher:  chapter 4
    Lambertini:  pp. 41-48
    Evolution & Natural Selection
    11/08 Coevolution Kricher:  chapter 5 Symbiotic Relationships
    11/15 Coevolution (continued)   Secondary Plant Chemicals
    11/29 The neotropical pharmacy
    Kricher:  chapter 6 and 7
    Lambertini:  pp. 48-53
    12/06 Deforestation and conservation of biodiversity Kricher:  chapter 14
    Lambertini:  chapter 11
    12/12 Reading Day . .
    12/13 Final Exam (6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) . .

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