Dr. Baxter’s section

Dr. Jim Baxter
Office: SQU 306
Office hrs: MW 9-10:30 am
Tel. (916) 278-4047

Course location: SQU 328: F 9:00 – 11:50 am, 1:00 – 3:50 pm

The purpose of this course is to enhance your understanding of and experience applying various field and analytical methods to important and relevant questions in ecology, evolution and conservation (EEC).  This semester we will focus on various field and analytical methods aimed at addressing ecological and conservation related questions. The focus of our investigations will be guided by our own areas of expertise and informed by your interests.

As instructors, our goal is not to provide an exhaustive survey of research methods, but to provide you with enough knowledge and hands-on experience using various techniques that you could apply them – or at least know when to apply them! – to your own thesis research or questions you may pursue in the future.

Each of us – instructors and students – has a unique background and expertise, as well as interests, skills and perspectives that we bring to the course.  Our goal is to tap into those respective backgrounds, experiences and interests to create a valuable learning experience in the course.

The course will be run as a workshop and you will contribute to the learning.  We will use a combination of lecture, methods application and field studies to explore selected concepts and methods in EEC and apply them to answering meaningful questions.  Your participation is essential and expected.  During the course, you will develop your understanding of the methods covered in the course in several ways.  You will deliver a short lecture on a selected method, develop testable hypotheses, design and conduct appropriate experiments, apply appropriate analytical techniques to field collected data, and deliver an oral presentation of results.

Learning Objectives

  • Become familiar with the background, theory and application of selected methods and how they can be used to answer important questions in ecology – and your own research!
  • Learn the theory behind and application of methods used in vegetation ecology, including sampling, diversity, gradients, species area, ordination, and how to apply these in selected software packages.
  • Learn to field ID common taxa/groups of plants and [RON?] in nearby ecosystems, as they apply to [RON?] and plant community structure.
  • Gain experience explaining, presenting and interpreting the results of [RON?] and multivariate analyses using appropriate statistical, analytical and graphical methods.
  • Become familiar with the ecology and conservation biology of nearby ecosystems.

Participation in course activities, discussion and contribute to student learning.
Short (20 min) lecture on a selected method in EEC.
Oral presentation of experimental results. 

Computers and software
Computers with Microsoft Office, statistical software and Internet access are available in the lab.  The software we will use include Excel, R, SPSS, PCOrd, and Prism (a graphics package).  You are encouraged to bring your own laptop for data entry, analysis and presentation.