Courses

 

BIO 162. General Zoology . General principles of zoology are presented in an evolutionary context. Emphasis is placed on the anatomy, behavior, and ecology of animals. Students are introduced to evolutionary and ecological principles of biology. I usually teach this class during both Fall and Spring semesters. My approach is a lecture format with student questions and discussion encouraged. I typically start lectures with “Biology in the News”, where students are encouraged to bring recent news reports about biology to the class for discussion. I use PowerPoint slides and some videos in my presentations.

 

BIO 470. Animal Behavior. This course involves the study of both the mechanisms and functional explanations of behavior. Experimental approaches to addressing questions about animal behavior are emphasized. Topics typically include behavioral genetics, neuroethology, migration and navigation, habitat selection, foraging, communication, social behavior, reproductive strategies, and human sociobiology. This course has a two-hour laboratory each week in which field studies and independent projects are integral components. There is one compulsory Saturday field trip. The prerequisites are a minimum grade of C in BIO 161/111 and 162/112, and Junior standing. The class is writing enhanced with several lab reports, one major group project and essay style tests. I teach this class in the Fall semester. I use a combination of PowerPoint lectures and videos as well as Weekly Student Discussion Groups to teach this class.

 

BIO 410/411. Undergraduate Seminar. The purpose of this class is to provide opportunities for students to gain skills involved in the presentation, discussion and critical evaluation of scientific research. The format of this class is student led group discussions. Students are expected to attend scientific seminars outside of designated class times. I periodically teach this class during either the spring or fall semester.

 

BIO 584 Advanced Ornithology . This graduate-level course provides the student with a theoretical and practical background to Ornithology, the scientific study of birds. Topics covered typically include: 1) the anatomical and physiological characteristics that separate birds from other animals; 2) hypotheses on the origin of birds and flight; 3) how birds communicate with one another both vocally and visually; 4) the breeding biology and ecology of birds; 5) the annual cycle of birds and the biology of migration and navigation; and 6) conservation issues involving both tropical and temperate bird species. I use a combination of PowerPoint lectures and discussions of current literature to teach this class. The class is usually taught in alternate years during the spring semester.

In the lab students will learn to identify common bird species found in east Texas and the Gulf Coast by sight and sound, recognize and identify orders of birds of the world, and identify morphological and anatomical features of birds. Students will also gain some experience in the capture, handling, and banding of birds in the field and in the preparation of museum study skins.

Field trips will focus on bird identification. Students will have an opportunity to observe birds in the their natural habitats. Field trips will take place during the lab period or on weekends. Destinations will be dependent on weather conditions and bird activity. Two possible weekend trips are to Rockport to see endangered Whooping Cranes on their wintering grounds and to High Island to observe spring migrants. We also spend several lab periods at Huntsville State Park and the university field station.

 

BIO 580. Advanced Ecology: Topics in Behavioral Ecology. The field of Behavioral Ecology explores functional questions about animal behavior. In this graduate level class students explore current topics in the field of Behavioral Ecology with the use of the primary literature. There is no text for this class. Students are expected to participate and in some cases lead class discussions. I typically teach this class in alternate spring semesters.

 

BIO 580. Advanced Ecology: Field Ornithology . In this graduate level class students learn practical skills in field ornithology including: capture and banding techniques, the recording and archiving of bird sounds, survey methods, and observation methods. Students learn to identify through sight and sound bird species of eastern Texas and the Gulf Coast . The class involves considerable field time at the Center for Biological Field Studies as well as some weekend field trips. Some classroom time is spent examining study skins and photographic slides to facilitate identification but most class time is spent in the field. Students are expected to work independently on class projects both within and outside of class time. This class is typically taught during the spring semester according to student interest.