BIOL F488/688, Arctic Vegetation Ecology: Geobotany (3 credits)

Course syllabus and materials are posted on Blackboard
Additional resources: Plant List - Plant Family Characteristics
Slideshow: Snow Ecoology Field Trip

Course information

Title: Arctic Vegetation Ecology: Geobotany
Number: BIOL 488/688
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: BIOL 115 & 116, Introduction to Plant Biology (BIOL 239) or Principles of Ecology (BIOL 271) or instructor approval
Location: 103 Irving I
Lecture: 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. T/Th
Lab: 3:40 - 5:00 p.m. Th


Prof. D.A. (Skip) Walker
Alaska Geobotany Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks
AHRB 254
Office hours: Generally available, call before coming
Students are encouraged to contact the instructor with any questions, or to clarify the lecture or the assignments.
I will be happy to review drafts of assignments and answer questions any time.

Teaching Assistant (TA)

Erin Julianus
Trailer T-7
(269) 271-4114
Office hours: Thurs 12-2 or by appointment


Summary of grading points

Undergraduate student grading (BIOL 488 students):
Attendance at lectures and labs (3 pts/class, 33 class)100
Presentation at 2 literature review sessions (50 pts each)100
Snow Ecology Field Trip200
Plant identification exam200
Plant identification notebook100
Oral presentation of research topic 200
TOTAL900 points


Graduate student grading (BIOL 688 students):
Attendance at lectures and labs (3 pts/class, 33 class)100
Presentation at 2 literature review sessions100
Snow Ecology Field Trip200
Plant identification exam200
Plant identification notebook100
Final research paper300
Oral presentation of research topic200
TOTAL1200 points

Guidelines and grading criteria for oral presentations (PDF)

These criteria may be modified somewhat as the course progresses.

Final grades will be as follows: greater than or equal to 90% = A; 80-89% = B; 70-79% = C; 60-69% = D; < 60% = F


Undergraduate student expectations and grading:

All students are expected to accomplish the following:
(a) Attend all lectures, labs and exams on time There will be no make-up for missed classes and half credit for late attendance. Good reasons for missing the classes will be accepted if cleared with the instructor before the class. (3 points for each for 33 sessions, 100 total points).
(b) Give a 30-minute oral presentation (including discussion) of a literature review of a topic of interest related to Arctic vegetation. Guidelines for the presentations and grading criteria for the presentations will be handed out early in the semester. (200 points).
(c) Attend the 3-day snow ecology field trip, describe 3 snow pits and keep field book of observations (100 points).
(d) Do the readings, study the on-line material including lecture slides and complete final lecture exam (200 points).
(e) Learn 160 Arctic plant species and take the exam (200 points).

Graduate student expectations and grading

Graduate students will be graded according to the same criteria as the undergraduate students except for the following:
(f) Write a 2000-3000-word synthetic research paper based on the primary literature on an Arctic Vegetation topic of your choice. This paper should have at least 15 literature citations and can include additional tables and figures. This can be the same topic as that of your oral presentation. Late papers will receive a deduction of 15 points of the 300 total for every day late and no credit beyond 3 days late. Students should arrange for an incomplete grade if they cannot meet this deadline (300 points).
(g) During the last 30 minutes of each lecture, graduate students will lead discussions of the required reading. Each graduate student will lead at least one of these literature discussions. Each graduate student will present an in depth oral summary of the given paper to the rest of the class. They will be expected to bring other relevant literature to bear on the topic. These overviews should focus on the principal points of the paper and major concepts and should be presented as if in a national conference (100 points).

Return to top