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Course Description

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Biology Dept.

Oglethorpe U.

UEP/BIO 320 - Urban Ecology

Spring 2006

Time series images (1998, 2000, and 2001) of one typical land parcel undergoing urbanization.

Instructor: Dr. Roarke Donnelly
Office: Goslin Hall 222
Office Hours: MW 8-9, 10:30-11:30; Tu 8-9, 11:15-12:15

Phone: (404) 364-8401

Lecture: Goslin 215, T TH 10:00 - 11:15am

Lab: Goslin 215, W 1:30pm - 4:30pm



Glancing at a typical map of the world, one might conclude that cities cover a small proportion of the continents and, therefore, have little environmental impact. What the map does not show is that over half of the world's population lives in cities and survives by importing natural resources and exporting wastes. Thus, cities have considerable environmental impacts that should be managed in a sustainable fashion. Urban Ecology is a nascent field of study that can help guide this management. It integrates biophysical and socio-economic forces (e.g., biology, economics, public policy) to understand, predict, and manage the emergent phenomena we call cities. This course presents the state of our knowledge of Urban Ecology with lectures by your instructor and guest speakers (schedule), readings, discussions, field trips around metro Atlanta, and experiments.


After participation in this course, you will:

  1. Know what environmental and social conditions drive the urbanization process
  2. Understand why urban ecology must fully integrate natural and social science and how that integration can be achieved
  3. Be able to identify residences and work places that offer a healthy lifestyle
  4. Be able to inform and contribute to environmental and community stewardship in urban areas
  5. Know how urbanization in the Atlanta metropolitan area compares to urabanization in other metropolitan areas in the US and abroad.


In order to take this class, you must have a passing grade in COR 102 or the permission of the instructor.




Lecture topics


Lab activities, lab speakers, due dates, unusual events



No class Tu


First class meeting in lab



Drivers: Economic and population growth

Alberti et al. 2003, Wackernagel and Rees 95, Marsh ch1

Lab = Ecological footprint calculation and analysis



Patterns: Land transformation, sprawl, and remote sensing

Readings from Conservation Fund, Frumkin ch1-2,

Quiz 1

Lab = A. Schock from the Conservation Fund speaks on protection of green space inside I-285*



Continued from above Liu et al. 03

Quiz 2

Lab = Tradeoffs in the single family residential market



Pattern and Process: Water

Frumkin ch7, Gaffield et al 03

Quiz 3

Lab = P. Lanford from GA Dept. of Natural Resources talks on urban streams and fish diversity

6 2/20




7 2/27

Pattern and Process: Atmosphere and climate Frumkin ch4, Atlanta Station web Lab = Field trip to mixed use development (Atlantic Station)

8 3/06

Feedbacks from process to pattern

Effect: Biodiversity


Lab = Midterm exam

9 3/13

Continued from above Marsh ch2, Marzluff et al 01

Lab = Frield trip to Oakland Cemetery

10 3/20

Spring Break    

11 3/27

Effect: Human behavior

Clemants and Moore 05, Sullivan 04, Frumkin ch8-9

Literature review

Quiz 4

Lab = K. Mistry from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention speaks on human health in Atlanta's built environment

12 4/03

Feedbacks from effects to drivers Selection from Kellert 84, Mitchell 05

Quiz 5

Lab = Demonstration of bird survey/trapping techniques

13 4/10

Urban planning, growth management policy, and landscape architecture Gilham ch. 8 (second half) Lab = Charles Jordan, chairman of Conservation Fund, speaks on environmental justice

Tu = Mara Baird, RLA speaks on landscape architecture and campus development

Th = Presentation rough draft

14 4/17

No class Th

Continued from above

ARC web

Quiz 6

Th = Final Presentation

Lab = C. Williamson from Atlanta Regional Commission speaks on transportation planning

15 4/24

  Spirn 03 Lab = C. Carlson from UGA's Institute of Ecology speaks on relation of bird diversity to cultural resources

16 5/01

W-F no class or lab

Urbanization in the future and Review


Exam 2 held 5/8 at 8 am

*Underlined text identifies guest lectures that are open to Oglethorpe students, staff, and faculty. Unless otherwise noted, they are held at 1:30 in the small dining room in the Emerson Student Center. Attendees are welcome to eat their lunch (from the student cafeteria or otherwise) during the presentation. Please contact the instructor to find out if the room has changed.

The Typical Weekly Schedule

The typical week will consist of a lecture on Tu, a lab with an exercise or a guest speaker on W, and lecture completion and reading discussion on Th. At the end of each Th class, your instructor will announce the following week's schedule, including the reading assignment. Some readings may be due on a Tu or a W.



Quizzes on Readings and Guest Lectures

During each week noted in the schedule, there will be a quiz at the beginning of the Th class. It will cover the reading due that week and the previous day's guest lecture.


You are required to attend all scheduled events associated with this course. You are allowed a total of four unexcused absences for the semester. With a fifth unexcused absence, you will have the choice of taking a grade of "FA" or withdrawing from the course. An unexcused absence prevents you from earning any points toward a missed quiz or a report on a missed exercise. Social, extra-curricular, sporting, and work events do not constitute legitimate excuses. Please note that advance warning of an absence improves the chance that your absence will be excused.

Tentative List of Required Readings

The instructor will assign readings from the texts and other sources, some of which are listed below. Readings may be added or subtracted during the course of the semester. Consistent positive contribution to discussion or readings will be rewarded with full participation points.

Required Texts:

Trombulak, S, editor. 2001. So great a vision: The conservation writings of George Perkins Marsh. Middlebury College Press, Honover. (note, readings from this text are listed as chapters in Marsh's book)

Frumkin, H, L Frank, and R Jackson. 2004. Urban sprawl and public health: Designing, planning, and building for healthy communities. Island Press, Washington.

Other sources that will be provided:

Alberti, M, J Marzluff, E Schulenberger, G Bradley, C Ryan, and C Zumbrunnen. 2003. Integrating humans into ecology: Opportunities and challenges for studying urban ecosystems. BioScience, 53:1169-1179.

Clemants, S, and G. Moore. 2003. Patterns of species richness in eight northeastern United States cities. Urban Habitats 1, online.

Clergeau, P, G Mennechez, A Sauvage, and A Lemoine. 2001. Human perception and appreciation of birds: motivation for wildlife conservation in urban environments of France. In Avian ecology and conservation in an urbanizing world, J.M. Marzluff, R. Bowman, and R. Donnelly (eds.). Kluwer Academic Press, Norwell.

Gaffield, SJ, RL Goo, LA Richards, and RJ Jackson. 2003. Public health effects of inadequately managed stormwater runoff. American Journal of Public Health 93:1527-1533.

Kellert, SR. 1984. Urban American perceptions of animals and the natural environment. Urban Ecology 8:209-228.

Knapp, G, and AC Nelson. The regulated landscape. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge.

Liu, J, G Daily, PR Ehrlich, and GW Luck. 2003. Effects of household dynamics on resource consumption and biodiversity. Nature 421:530-533.

Marzluff, J.M., R. Bowman, and R. Donnelly. 2001. A historical perspective on urban bird research: Trends, topics, and definitions. In Avian ecology and conservation in an urbanizing world, J.M. Marzluff, R. Bowman, and R. Donnelly (eds.). Kluwer Academic Press, Norwell.

McKinney, ML. 2006. Urbanization as a major cause of biotic homogenization. Biological Conservation 127:247-260.

Mitchell, J. 2005. Frederick Law Olmsted's passion for parks. National Geographic, March.

Robinson, L, JP Newell, and JM Marzluff. 2004. Twenty-five years of sprawl in the Seattle region: growth management responses and implications for conservation. Landscape and Urban Planning.

Spirn, A. 2003. Urban ecosystems, city planning, and environmental education: Literature, precedents, key concepts, and prospects. In Understanding urban ecosystems, A Berkowitz, CH Nilon, and KS Hollweb (eds.). Springer, New York.

Sullivan, R. 2004. Rats: observations on the history and habitat of the city's most unwanted inhabitants. Bloomsbury, New York.

Wackernagel, M, and W Rees. 1995. Our ecological footprint: reducing human impact on the Earth. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island.


Questions on exams may take a variety of formats including: short essay, fill in the blank, matching, multiple choice questions, sketches, long essay, and oral interview. Exam 1 will cover all lecture and lab material presented since the beginning of the class. Exam 2 will be cummulative, but it will emphasize material covered in lecture and lab since the first exam.

Exercise Reports

A few exercises from lecture and lab will have associated reports.

Group Projects

You are required to complete a group project with one of your classmates. The project will proceed in three stages: literature review, rough draft powerpoint presentation to the instructor, and final powerpoint presentation to the class. Due dates for each of these stages are listed on the schedule above. Available topics, topic selection procedure, and other details of the assignment will be announced early in the semester.



You must include an affirmation of the honor code (see the O Book) to receive credit for documents related to all course activities. If you have any questions about the honor code, you are strongly encourage to reread the code and ask the instructor questions. Note that "aid while not enrolled" (which is the use of tests or assignments from previous course sections) is a violation of the code. The final day to withdraw from this course with a "W" is 3/31/06. For information on “Incomplete” grades, please refer to the most recent Bulletin. The instructor does not plan to provide opportunities for extra credit.

The instructor will evaluate your written assignments (lab reports, midterms, and exam) based on 3 criteria. The first criterion, scientific merit, is the most important. You must use scientific concepts and principles and may be required to synthesize material presented in lab, lecture, and readings. The second criterion is logic. Ideas must correspond to the question at hand and proceed in sensible and direct fashion. The third criterion is format. You must write in complete sentences,use clear and concise English grammar, and follow formats where indicated (e.g., reference citations). Oral interview will be evaluated based on the same criteria, substituting articulation for format.

Late assignments will receive a reduced point totals. For each day an assignment is late, the instructor will deduct 10% of the total points possible for that assignment.

The instructor will award points for activities as follows:

Course Activity

Unit point value

Points possible


2 @ 115



6 @ 18


Group presentation

1 @ 100


Exercise reports
2 @ 15

Discussion participation

1 @ 25




Total = 493

The instructor will assign grades based on the following scale:

Earned percentage of 800 points

Letter grade

Grade point




































From  the Professor

If you have a disability and need accomodations or if the instructor can help with anythings else, please talk with him after class, during office hours, schedule an appiontment, or catch him in his office.

From Other Students

Ask other students if they would like to form a study group that meets regularly.

From University Services

If you need assistance with your internet account, please contact Network Services ([404] 364-8518)

If you need tutoring or help with study skills, please contact the Academic Resources Center (Dr. Knippenberg [404] 364-8341).



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