Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | BIOL133 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Field Studies in Biology
IAI CODE(S): L1 905L

A non-major environmental biology course that focuses on the interrelationships between humans and nature. Topics include general ecology, biodiversity, resources, pollution, global change, and environmental ethics. The laboratory component will consist of fieldwork studies, conducted mostly outdoors at various locations around the Vermilion and Champaign County. Bus transportation will be provided from the DACC campus for all labs.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Understand why environmental problems are complex and interrelated.
  • Identify how environmental problems involve social, ethical, political, and economic issues.
  • Describe how organisms have an impact on their surroundings.
  • Define what is meant by an ecosystem approach to environmental problem solving.
  • Describe ways that humans significantly modify natural ecosystems.
  • Describe the value of, major threats of, and ways to improve biodiversity.
  • List three conflicting attitudes towards nature.
  • Explain the concept of ecological footprint and the factors that are involved in the calculation.
  • Describe common attitudes towards the environment in modern society.
  • Understand that matter is made up of atoms and describe the basic structure and location of subatomic particles.
  • Identify the different types of chemical bonds and how these bonds rearrange during a chemical reaction
  • Compare and contrast different forms of energy.
  • Define the roles of producer, consumer, and decomposer.
  • Distinguish among the following kinds of consumers: herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and parasites.
  • Describe why some organisms are considered to be keystone species.
  • Describe energy flow through an ecosystem.
  • Relate the concepts of food webs and food chains to trophic levels and energy flow.
  • Describe the basics of the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles and how humans impact these cycles.
  • Recognize the difference between primary and secondary succession and describe the process of succession from pioneer to climax community.
  • Identify major environmental factors that determine the kind of community that develops in an area.
  • State major biotic and abiotic characteristics of various terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • List the major terrestrial and aquatic biomes and the major characteristics that define those biomes.
  • Describe the human impact on biomes.
  • Describe ways that two populations of the same species could differ.
  • Describe ways that different species interact.
  • Understand the basic concepts and terminology associated with population dynamics.
  • Distinguish between density-dependent and density-independent limiting factors.
  • List characteristic differences between K-strategies and r-strategies and relate them to survivorship curves.
  • Recognize that humans are subject to the same forces of environmental resistances as other organisms.
  • Understand the implications of over-reproducing.
  • Explain how women's age distribution and educational status affect population projections.
  • Describe the relationship between stage of economic development and rate of population growth.
  • Explain why all organisms require a constant input of energy.
  • Describe the different sources of energy.
  • Describe the major categories of energy use in countries.
  • Describe actions countries take to alter how energy is used.
  • State the major causes of biodiversity loss.
  • Give examples of genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity.
  • Describe the major threats to biodiversity.
  • Describe what is meant by threatened and endangered species.
  • Describe the techniques that foster the sustainable use of wildlife and fisheries resources.
  • Describe the difference sources of air, water, and soil pollution.
  • Describe what is meant by global climate change.
  • List the potential consequences of climate change.
  • Discuss how different nations are addressing climate change.
  • Describe how health of an ecosystem is rated.

Most labs to take place off campus at nature centers, nature preserves, or county/state parks within Vermilion and Champaign County. Bus transportation will be provided from the DACC campus.
  • Describing a Population: Seining for Shiners (4 hours).
  • Estimating Population Sizes: Mark-Recapture Technique (2 hours).
  • Tree Demography: A Study of Campus Trees (2 hours).
  • Investigating Niches: Birds at a feeding station (4 hours).
  • Spatial Patterns: Duck distribution around a food source (2 hours).
  • The Prairie Biome: Investigations into Biodiversity and soil quality (4 hours).
  • The Forest Biome: Investigations into Biodiversity and soil quality (4 hours)
  • The Marsh Biome: Investigations into Biodiversity and water quality (4 hours).
  • The Pollinatarium: A study into pollination, insect physiology, animal behavior, crop sciences and conservation. (4 hours)
  • Investigating Water Quality: Examining the composition of Macroinvertebrates in the Vermilion River (4 hours)
  • Practicing Stewardship: Bluebird nest box monitoring (2 hours)
  • Impacting the Land: Human Land Use: Building a community on Dragonfly Pond (2 hours)

Enger & Smith. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships, Custom Edition. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2013.

Brown & Loveless. Field Studies in Environmental Biology, custom lab manual and lecture note packet. 2013.

Field Notebook

See bookstore website for current book(s) at

4 quizzes:
Midterm Exam:
Final Exam:
Laboratory Exercises:
Field Notebook:

Grading Scale:
A= 90% - 100%
B= 80% - 89%
C= 70% - 79%
D= 60% - 69%
F= 59% and below


Membership in the DACC community brings both rights and responsibility. As a student at DACC, you are expected to exhibit conduct compatible with the educational mission of the College. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, is not tolerated. A DACC student is also required to abide by the acceptable use policies of copyright and peer-to-peer file sharing. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as contained in the DACC Student Handbook. The Student Handbook is available in the Information Office in Vermilion Hall and online at:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

Fall 2019

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