BIOL 493Z/793R

Molecular Ecology
Fall 2006





INSTRUCTOR:        Stephen P. DiFazio
                                   5200 LSB
                                   293-5201 x31512

M,W,R 1:00-2:00, or by appointment


 SCHEDULE:           M,W,F 10:30-11:20



Department of Biology

West Virginia University

There will be two lectures per week and an alternating literature discussion or computer lab session each Wednesday. Lectures and discussions will be in 3131 LSB, and the computer labs will be in 3200 LSB (near the elevators).

Andrew Lowe, Stephen Harris, Paul Ashton. 2004. Ecological Genetics: Design, Analysis, and Application. Blackwell Science, Ltd. Malden, MA (available from book store and Book Exchange)

On Reserve in Downtown Library

Avise, John C. Molecular markers, natural history, and evolution. Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer Associates. 2004. (Av)

Beebee, Trevor J. C. and Rowe, Graham. An introduction to molecular ecology. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. (BR)

Freeland, J.R. 2005. Molecular Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, England.


Midterm: 100 pts
Final Exam: 100 pts
Term paper: 100 pts
Class Participation: 100 pts

Term papers for graduate students will consist of a 10-page grant proposal to apply molecular techniques to an ecological question of the student’s choice. Undergraduates will write a 5-page paper on a current topic in molecular ecology. A proposal, outline, and draft will all be due before the final paper, and each will be worth 10 points. Students will present their proposals to the class in the final week (15 minutes, 20 points). See Term Paper page for more details.

Our Wednesday discussions of the primary literature are an extremely important part of this course. Class participation grades will be based primarily on these discussion periods, so they will determine a substantial fraction of the final grades.  Each discussion session will cover two papers related to a topic recently covered in lecture. Discussion of each paper will be led by a student, who will give a short (5 minute) overview of the background, approach, and main findings of the paper. This will determine 25% of the class participation grade. The remainder of the grade will be based on responses to questions related to the papers. I will ask several questions each period, selecting from a randomly sorted class list, so please come prepared! A well-considered answer based upon the content of the paper will be worth up to 25 points, and I will ensure that everyone has at least four opportunities to answer questions.

Since we have more papers than students, I will give up to 25 points extra credit for students who lead more than one paper discussion.  First come, first served. Otherwise, I will lead discussions that are not claimed by a student.

Students who do not lead an extra discussion will have the opportunity to gain 25 extra credit points by reviewing a published paper. See general guidelines for paper review from Stephen Karl at U. of South Florida. Papers must be preapproved by me. I also have some suggestions.

Please inform me if you need special assistance in this course, and make arrangements as necessary either with me or through Disability Services (293 6700). The first week of the semester is the best time for these discussions, and all matters will be kept confidential. West Virginia University is committed to social justice. I concur with West Virginia University's commitment and expect to maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect and non-discrimination. Our University does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, color or national origin. Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. As defined in section of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities of Students (1987 revision), academic dishonesty includes plagiarism, cheating, and dishonest practices. Academic dishonesty will result in a zero being assigned to that component of the course (e.g., exam or term paper). This is particularly important for take-home exams, which are administered on an honor system. If a question is unclear, please come to me for clarification, not to your fellow students.