Conservation Biology

Lab/Discussion/Lecture Guidelines

Spring 2011


Ken N. Paige, Professor - Room 481, Morrill Hall - 505 S. Goodwin, Urbana
244-6606 email:

Teaching Assistant

Madura Siddappaji, 491 Morrill Hall, 333-8002,



Win-Win Ecology

Michael L. Rosenzweig


Each week you will be required to read one chapter of Rosenzweigs book titled Win-Win Ecology (12 chapters total, typically less than 20 pages/chapter). I will assign a few questions from each chapter each week that you will hand in for grading (5 points per chapter), summarizing the chapters content. This will be my check to see that you have read the book. Plus it will help keep the content in mind for a discussion of the book toward the end of the semester (April 29th). A question or questions may appear on the final exam from your readings and our discussion.


Graduate Student Lecture - Fridays


Each graduate student enrolled in the course will be required to select and present one case history during the semester. I will provide a list of topics to choose from. Presentations will be in a Powerpoint format with supporting materials (e.g., hand-outs, videos from you-tube). Lectures should last from 20-40 minutes with time for discussion/questions. I would encourage graduate students to provide a list of hand-out questions and/or exercises to direct classroom discussion/interaction (I leave this to you and your creativity). Lecture material will appear on exams. Graduate students will be graded on their presentations and feedback will be given. The purpose of this exercise is to provide graduate students an opportunity to prepare and present lecture materials for a class and to provide real-world examples of conservation in action.

Discussion/Lab Section

The Discussion/Lab section consists of two major components.

1. Readings and discussion (284 Morrill Hall) of weekly papers found as pdf files on the lab web page.

a. Will provide broader exposure to concepts, case studies, and conservation policy

b. Gain experience in group debate and discussion, essential to conservation biology in practice.


2. Population Viability Analysis (PVA) using VORTEX simulation. Computer labs in 277 Morrill Hall from March 7 -March 16.

a. Gain hands-on experience in conservation decision making

b. Development of collaborative skills, i.e., being a team-player! Conservation decisions are not made in a vacuum

Participation - Discussions

Participation is essential to the discussion section. We will expect everyone to contribute and will "encourage" people who do not regularly contribute. More importantly, participation in discussion is essential to your own education both in terms of concepts related to conservation biology and in general analytical and verbal skills. Discussion sections will follow the format outlined below:

1. A randomly chosen student will present a 1-2 minute summary of the reading (i.e. what are the basic topics of the papers).

2. The student or students leading the discussion will then take over the discussion.

Leading Discussions

Each of you will be expected to lead one discussion section. We do expect some effort for these so please don't just prepare the night before. The following is a set of guidelines to help you, but we are open to many other formats. Please speak to your TA briefly if you would like to do something else. You may introduce all the papers at once or introduce them separately with separate discussions as you decide what is appropriate. If you are at all uncertain or overwhelmed, see your TA, and he will help you prepare.

1. Introduce the topic for each paper.

a. What are the basic questions and findings of the authors?


2. Provide any background information on the papers (this will likely require additional literature sources - please see your TA for any help).

a. What is the historical setting of this paper (if relevant).

b. Who are the lead authors and what is their area of expertise?

c. What other theories and research should we be aware of when reading this paper?


3. Prepare questions to lead a class discussion. Some potential areas of discussion:

a. Why is this topic important or under contention?

b. Are there two sides to this topic and what support is there for each side?

c. How do the authors reach their conclusions and are they valid?

d. What is unclear about the paper?


4. Be familiar with terminology, methodologies, and disciplines presented in the paper. You are the expert for the day.

Other possible formats:

  1. If the papers surround a running debate assign half the class to each side and have them debate issues that you raise
  2. Present written questions and break the class into small groups for 15 minutes. Reconvene as a class to discuss.

Discussion/Lab Participation 40 Points of Total

These 40 points will be apportioned into the following:

  1. 10 points Attendance
  2. 20 points Discussion leading
  3. 10 points Participation (I will keep track and make sure you participate)

PVA Projects 60 Points of Total

These 60 points will be apportioned into the following:

1. 20 points Oral presentation

2. 40 points Written reports