Avian Evolution
Population Regulation
NE Extinctions
Annual Cycle 

Biology 4242 – The Biology of Birds

Biology 4242/5242 - Ornithology

Professor: Rob Bierregaard

2010 Class and Lab Schedule

Syllabus v 1.0.1 

Click here to download an MSWord file with this syllabus

Text: Ornithology by Frank Gill, 3rd Edition
Introductions: The prof, students, birds, course requirements and expectations. What is Science? Why study birds?
The contributions of ornithology to modern biology
The Diversity of Birds (Chapter 1)
The design of a flying machine--
      The Evolution of Birds and Adaptations for flight (Chapters 4 (part) & 5)
Adaptive radiations— Birds of the world – Orders and Families
Form and Function: Anatomy and Physiology (Chapter 6)
Reproduction & Development
Reproduction and Development - the amazing egg.
Annual cycles/Molt/Migration
Demography and Conservation
Social behavior
Communication - Vocalizations
Song and song learning
FIELD TRIPS (optional)
            Zoo trip-Asheboro (Date flexible)
            Huntington Beach St. Park 23-25 Apr
Office Hours Tues. & Thurs.11-1 or by appointment
704 333-2405(h); 704 516-4615(c)
Dr. B’s email: rbierreg@uncc.edu
Dr. B’s webpage: http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard
4000 level: 5% Twitter; 40% two mid-term exams (around Feb. 17 and March 26), 20% conservation paper, 35% final (8 May 11:00-1:45).
5000 level: 30% mid-terms and 30% final exam, 20% term paper, 20% conservation paper and presentation.
            The final exam will be cumulative. It will be about 50% on new material, covered after the second exam, and 50% review. Because of this, short-term learning (i.e. cramming the day or so before each of the in-term exams) is not the most efficient way to study for this (or any) course. I will try to help with this by asking questions that you should know the answers to as we go through the semester. But if you just cram for each of the exams, you’ll just have to cram again for the whole semester’s material before the final. Learn as you go along.
Term paper guidelines:
     The term paper will be due April 15th. To help you avoid procrastination, the title page, checklist, and draft bibliography will be due on April 1st. The term paper must be on a conservation topic. You can write about one species that is either threatened or endangered (or used to be—success stories are always nice), or a topic such as the effect of global warming or West Nile virus on bird populations. Possible term paper topics are on the website. If you want to do a paper on a topic not on the list, check with me first.
     If you’re writing on a species, your paper should begin with a review the natural history (=biology) of your species. The best place to start here is the Birds of North America Project, which is available on-line in the library. Then discuss the conservation threat to the species. What research has been done to document the problem or problems the species face? What efforts have been taken to restore the species? What is the current status of the species? Were the efforts undertaken effective? Why or why not? So, your paper will have five sections: Introduction, Conservation Problem, Conservation Efforts, Current Status, and Literature Cited.
     To get to the Birds of North America Database, log onto the Atkins webpage. Under “Find Information,” click on ‘Articles, Papers, Reports.’ Then click on ‘Title,’ then select ‘B,’ and finally scroll down to ‘Birds of North America (BNA) Online.’
     To find additional literature on your species or topic, try one of the scientific search engines. Again, in the Atkins webpage, click on ‘Biology’ under Subject. Try the Web of Science or JSTOR (second page). JSTOR has the advantage of providing PDF files of the entire papers that show up after your search.
     Write the paper in the style of a scientific journal (see example) not a popular magazine article. Don’t write about the tragedy of extinction, or the beauty of this or that species. The following (taken from a term paper submitted a few years ago) is inappropriate for a scientific paper:
“The citizens of our country need to know about these majestic creatures, and grasp how important the Bald Eagle is not only to the United States as a symbol of our pride, and freedom, but to the world as a symbol of hope and search for excellence.”
    Whenever you make a statement that is not general knowledge, you need to cite the scientific source of that information. You don’t need a citation if you’re saying that the Bald Eagle has a white head, but you do need one if you say that when European Settlers came to North America there were 100,000 Bald Eagles nesting in what would become the US.
     Why do we include citations? For two reasons: the reader needs to have confidence that you didn’t just pull a number out of the air; and so that a reader can find your source and read more details about the facts.
     The format of your in-text citations and bibliography should follow standard scientific style. In text a citation can take two forms: “Puerto Rican Parrots suffered significantly from Hurricane Hugo (Snyder 1993).” Or: “Snyder (1993) found that Puerto Rican Parrot populations were decimated by Hurricane Hugo.”

     If you have several citations for one point, they should be listed by date of publication, not alphabetically: “Most Ospreys migrate to South America in late summer or early fall (Poole 1987, Martell et al. 1999)”
     If there are two authors in a paper, the citation in text is: Bierregaard and Stouffer (1997) found that …. or …(Bierregaard and Stouffer 1997). If there are three or more authors, the citation in text is Bierregaard et al. (1999) found that …. Or "Habitat fragmentation has a profound effect on understory birds in tropical rainforests (Bierregaard et al. 1999)."

     The paper must include at least 3 citations from peer-reviewed journals. Citations from peer-reviewed journals must outnumber internet citations. Do not cite popular magazines, such as Natural History, National Wildlife Magazine, Audubon Magazine etc. While these sources are reliable, they are reporting the results of someone else’s work. Readers want to be able to go back to the original study that reported the data or results you present.
     Internet sources must have some scientific credibility. Here are three totally inappropriate citations that students have used on termpapers:
1. http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/articles/20060329/Feature1.asp
2. “The Flag of the United States of America. http://www.usflag.org/baldeagle.
3. http://www.lifeinthefastlane.ca/why-women-live-longer/humour-humour
     Your Literature Cited section will consist of the sources of the information cited in text. This is, for a journal article:
Smith, J., and D. Jones. 1999. Causes of House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) decline. Wilson Bull.   88: 112-116.
[Authors. Year. Title. Journal Volume: pages.]
For individually authored papers in an edited volume:
Bierregaard, R. O., Jr., and P. C. Stouffer.  1997.  Understory birds and dynamic habitat mosaics in Amazonian rainforests.    In W. F. Laurance and R. O. Bierregaard, Jr., editors, Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management and Conservation of Fragmented Communities.  Univ. Of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.
            Pay attention to your grammar. No paper that is poorly proof-read or with sloppy grammar in general will get an A. Proof reading includes making sure your citations match the format presented above.
            DO NOT put this off until the last week. You have all semester to do this paper and there will be NO extensions. I say this every year, and every year I have students asking me to borrow a book for reference material 3 days before the end of the semester. If you have grandparents still alive, write the paper a couple of weeks early, so that when they pass away just before the paper is due, you won’t have a problem with an overdue paper. (Grandparents seem to be at high risk of death or serious disease just before exams and paper due dates. You might make sure your car insurance is paid up as well, as students also seem to get into car wrecks just before exams. See this site for details: http://www.cis.gsu.edu/~dstraub/Courses/Grandma.htm)
     Aside from the health of your relatives, another incentive to get working on the paper ASAP is that you may have to request journal articles through interlibrary loan. The Atkins selection of ecological and natural history journals is pretty good, but chances are high that you will need to read papers that we don’t have in the stacks. For these, you will have to request copies electronically. This is especially relevant for students writing papers on species that are not covered in the BNA database.
            When a scientist submits a paper for publication, the first step is choosing the appropriate journal. Once this is done, the author checks out the particular style that journal requires. Frustratingly, every journal has its own particular style for the title page, citations, literature cited, section headings, etc., etc. To help authors, and make the life of editors easier, a checklist is provided.
            So, as your editor, I am providing a checklist. Before you submit your paper, go through this list thoroughly and verify that your paper meets the standards of our “journal”. Cut and paste the checklist into the second page of your term paper, right after the title page. Then, use the checklist as a guide for proofreading your paper.
__1. There are at least 3 papers from refereed journals in the Literature Cited section.
__2. Journal citations outnumber internet citations.
__3. All citations in text have a corresponding entry in the Lit. Cit. section and vice versa.
__4. Citations match the format provided in the course syllabus.
__5. The passive voice is avoided where possible.
__6. You have thoroughly proof-read the paper and verified that no incomplete sentences have been left uncorrected or unfinished.
__7. There are five sections to the paper: Introduction, Conservation Problem, Conservation Efforts, Current Status, Literature Cited.
__8. The scientific name of all species mentioned is included parenthetically after the first mention of the species and not thereafter, unless scientific names are used throughout, in which case, the situation is reversed—common name parenthetically at first mention and not thereafter. Scientific names are required for all species—not just the birds.
__9. The paper has a cover page with the title, author, and date submitted, this checklist on P2, and then Intro, etc, on subsequent pages.

When I grade your paper, I’ll give it a generic grade based on thoroughness of coverage and writing style. I will then refer to this checklist and deduct 3 points for each item that was not up to checklist standards.
Each example of the following Grammar and style guidelines will cost a point:
1. Independent clauses (both clauses have subject and verb) are separated by commas, dependent clauses are not.
2. It is “1970s” not “1970’s” when referring to a decade.
3. Don’t use contractions. I mean, do not use contractions ;-).
4. Avoid the passive voice. Don’t say “A study was done by Jones (1999) showing that…” Instead, say “Jones (1999) demonstrated that …”
5. Avoid at all costs, the use of “The fact that...” I’ve rarely run into a sentence with “the fact that” in it that couldn’t be much approved by rewriting “the fact that” out of the sentence. ESPECIALLY avoid “due to the fact that….” This is just a wordy way to say “because.”
6. Be careful with ‘which’ and ‘that’ clauses. Restrictive clauses (necessary to understand the sentence) are preceded by ‘that’ with no comma. Non-restrictive clauses are preceded by ‘which’ and separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Examples:
            Goldfinches, which often come to bird feeders, are small, mostly yellow birds in the genus Carduelis.
            Goldfinches that come to bird feeders far from shelter are more likely to be captured by Cooper’s Hawks than those feeding close to cover.
            Term Papers: In the past, students have copied papers from the Internet. It usually is quite obvious when a student does this. Things that make professors suspicious are when the topic species is some weird wren found only on an island off of Madagascar (why was the student interested in that topic?) or, more typically, when a “C” student all of a sudden writes almost flawlessly, using lots of arcane and sophisticated terminology. To reduce the temptation of plagiarism, papers will be turned in via the Turnitin Website.
            Exams: A few years ago we had a cheating incident during a mid-term exam. It was very messy, and I do not want to go through the aftermath ever again. So, prior to handing out the exams, I will ask everyone to place ALL their books, bags, notebooks, cellphones, hats, etc. in the front of the classroom and I will seat people at random.

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