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Organismal Biology and Ecology

Applicable for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Organismal Biology and Ecology Website

Professors EBERSOLE, HATHAWAY, KELSO, LINKHART, SNYDER; Associate Professors GRAY, HESCHEL, WILSON; Visiting Associate Professor DRUMMOND; Visiting Assistant Professor BRANDLEY

Organismal biology integrates studies of structure and function at the level of the organism and plays a central role in answering questions about ecology and evolution. This broad field encompasses cross-disciplinary approaches such as physiological ecology, evolutionary ecology, systematics, and biogeography, which all provide complementary insights into the processes of evolutionary diversification and adaptation to life on earth.

Our research foci include botany, animal ecology, comparative physiology, conservation biology, and molecular ecology. We strive to perform cutting-edge research and include students in these opportunities.

Download the Major's Handbook for Organismal Biology and Ecology for all information pertinent to our major.

Major Requirements

THE OBE MAJOR: A SHORT GUIDE TO REQUIREMENTS

  1. Two units in Introductory Organismal Biology: BE105 and/or BE106 and/or BE107
  2. Ecology: BE208
  3. Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology: MB131
  4. Population genetics or genetics: BE280 or MB201 or MB231
  5. Three units in chemistry: CH107 and CH108 and CH250
  6. Two units in mathematics: one unit of calculus and one unit of statistics OR mathematical modeling
  7. Five approved OBE electives
  8. Senior capstone experience
    1. Attend 3 OBE-approved seminars and write abstracts
    2. Take the ETS exam
    3. Complete a senior capstone course

THE OBE MAJOR: THE FULL GUIDE TO REQUIREMENTS

1. Two units in Introductory Organismal Biology:

  • BE105 Biology of Plants
  • BE106 Biology of Animals
  • BE107 Biology of Microbes

Note: AP/IB credit may count towards a lower level elective or as credit for MB131 (see below), but cannot replace these organismal courses.

2. BE208 Ecology

3. MB131 Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology

An IB-HL score of 6-7 fulfills this requirement or may count as one lower-level elective credit; a Biology AP score of 5 does not fulfill this requirement but does count as one lower-level elective credit.

4. BE280 Population Genetics OR MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics OR MB231 Genetics

Note: In order to take MB231, a student should consult with an MB faculty member to determine if their background is sufficient for this genetics course.

5. Three units in chemistry:

  • CH107 General Chemistry I
  • CH108 General Chemistry II
  • If you have Chemistry AP or IB credit on your transcript, you may obtain OBE credit by receiving a high score on your bypass exam for CH107 or CH108. While some students are able to bypass CH107, skipping CH108 is rare and not recommended because the lab experience in CH108 helps greatly in future classes. Contact Ted Lindeman (tlindeman@coloradocollege.edu) in chemistry for more information; also, ask the Department of Chemistry to notify your OBE advisor about your score on the bypass exam. 
  • CH250 Structures of Organic Molecules

Note: Graduate schools often require BOTH CH250 and CH251 Reactions of Organic Molecules.

6. Two units in mathematics:

  • One unit of calculus from:
    • MA126 Calculus I
    • MA127 Calculus I and II, accelerated
    • MA129 Calculus II
    • AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar

Note: choose your calculus course carefully so that you avoid doing mostly review and do not take a course without adequate preparation.  The  Department of Mathematics recommends the following: 

    • If you have Calculus AB credit on your transcript, take Calculus 2 and not Calculus 1.
    • If you have Calculus BC credit, do not take Calculus 2. If you want to take more math, take a computer science class or a higher-level math class (ask your advisor for recommendations).
    • If you have IB credit, talk to the Department of Mathematics.
    • If you took calculus in high school but do not have AP or IB credit, talk to the Department of Mathematics.
  • One unit of statistics or mathematical modeling from:
    • BE220 Biostatistics and Experimental Design
    • MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology
    • MA117 Probability and Statistics
    • MA217 Probability and Statistical Modeling
    • EV228 Analysis of Environmental Data
    • AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar in statistics.

Note: While the statistics/modeling requirement is fulfilled by AP credit in statistics, students with this AP credit will benefit from taking BE220.

7. Five approved OBE electives:

  • Three of the electives must be upper-level (numbered 300 or higher). Two of these must be BE or BY upper-level courses (one of these must be a capstone course taken during the last 8 blocks before graduation - see capstone options below). The remaining upper-level elective may be a non-BE class at the 300-400 level.
  • All BE courses except BE100 may count as electives. BE280 may count as an upper-level elective if taken after MB201/MB231.
  • All MB courses, excluding non-majors courses, may count as electives. MB109 (FYE) counts as one elective.
  • The following Human Biology & Kinesiology courses may count as electives: HK204, HK304, HK306 and HK321.
  • One unit of elective credit may be CH382, GY205, GY300, EV422, AN201, AN207, or AN306.
  • No more than 2 research blocks (BE309/BE409/BE499) may count as electives.
  • AP/IB credit may count as one unit of lower level elective credit (ask your advisor).

Note: this list is not exhaustive and you may petition the department to consider other courses to count as electives (there are often new courses during a given year that might count as OBE electives – ask your advisor).

8. Senior capstone experience

Before the end of your senior year, you must:

  • Complete attendance at three OBE-approved seminars, summarize each in an abstract (see example abstract on the website), and submit each abstract electronically to both Donna Sison and your advisor no later than the first Monday of the block following the block in which the seminar occurred. Students are strongly advised to begin turning in abstracts before their senior year.

During your junior and senior years, you must:

  • Successfully pass the Biology ETS exam or the Biology GRE exam
    • Register to take the 2-hour ETS Major Field Test in Biology early in Block 3 or early in Block 6, the only two times OBE offers the exam.  It is best to take the ETS exam in Block 3 in case you do not pass the exam. See the “Senior Capstone” section on the website for advice to prepare for this exam and links to sample questions. 
    • Alternatively, you can take the Biology GRE in the fall, but we strongly recommend that you take the ETS exam instead. You must list Colorado College as a recipient of the GRE scores. 
    • Complete a senior capstone course (this also counts as one of your five electives) in the last two semesters prior to graduation), in one of the following ways:
      • BE499 Senior Thesis
      • BE409 Advanced Research in Biology (if it meets the requirements described in the section on “Senior Capstone” - ask the faculty member supervising your research). Capstone course options vary from year to year. The current list of approved OBE capstone courses is: BE308 Advanced Ecology, BE365 Plant Physiology, BE366 Comparative Animal Physiology, BE367 Animal Ecology, BE370 Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Ecology, BE390 Ecology and Biogeography of Patagonia, BE410 Ornithology, BE412 Entomology, BE415 Evolution, BE421 Conservation Biology, BE475 Techniques in Molecular Ecology.
      • MB capstone courses may also be used to meet the capstone requirement (ask your advisor).

Courses

Organismal Biology & Ecology

BE100 Studies in Organismal Biology and Ecology

Presents students not majoring in organismal biology and ecology with inquiries into contemporary issues and phenomena in the biological sciences. Activities include lectures, readings, discussions, and laboratory or field experiences. May not be counted toward a OBE major. (May meet the laboratory/field requirement for critical perspectives.)

1 unit — Gray

BE105 Biology of Plants

The study of plants with an emphasis on the flowering plants. Relationships between form and function, growth and development and evolutionary and ecological relationships are examined with attention given to the chemical bases of plant life, the fundamentals of metabolic pathways, and the integrative nature of plant structures from cellular to ecological levels. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement.

Prerequisite: Strong high school Chemistry highly recommended.

1 unit — Heschel

BE106 Biology of Animals

An introduction to the biology of invertebrate and vertebrate animals. Evolution and functional architecture of animal body plans, patterns of structure and function, survival strategies, principles of animal ecology and evolution, and phylogeny of animal groups examined through lab, discussion, and investigative activities. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement.

Prerequisite: Strong high school chemistry highly recommended.

1 unit — Brandley, Gray, Linkhart

BE107 Biology of Microbes

An introduction to the world of Bacteria, Archaea, microscopic Eukarya and viruses. Emphasizing the role of microbes as causal agents of major human disease (TB, AIDS, malaria); as essential components of the human microbiome; as critical elements in biogeochemical processes; and as tools in agriculture, industry and food production. Lecture, discussion, student presentations and laboratory projects. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement.

Prerequisite: Strong high school Chemistry highly recommended.

1 unit — Wilson

BE202 Field Botany

A field course involving collection, identification, and preservation of vascular plants, emphasizing evolution, ecology and biogeography. Takes advantage of the major ecosystems of the Pikes Peak region. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 105.

1 unit

BE208 Ecology

The analysis of distributions, abundances, and interrelationships of organisms. Populations, communities, and ecosystems are investigated, and implications for humans considered. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement.

Prerequisite: Chemistry 107 and 1 unit from Organismal Biology and Ecology 105, 106, 107 Geology 130 or 140.

1 unit — Brandley, Ebersole, Linkhart, Snyder

BE220 Biostatistics and Experimental Design

Emphasis on application rather than theory or derivation. Topics: measures of central tendency and variability, correlation, regression, t-tests, Chi-square, analysis of variance, selected non-parametric methods, statistical inference and experimental design. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Prerequisite: At least 1 college organismal biology and ecology course or consent of instructor. No Credit after Economics 200 or Mathematics 117.

1 unit — Ebersole

BE240 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology

Special topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology not offered on a regular basis.

1 unit — Wilson

BE244 Histotechnique

Students will acquire the basic knowledge necessary to prepare animal and plant tissues for examination by light microscopy. Theoretical aspects of fixation, paraffin embedding, sectioning techniques, and the art of staining will be emphasized. Interpretation of results will be facilitated through lecture/discussion sessions highlighting the basics of histology. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 105 or 106 recommended.

.5 to 1 unit

BE249 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology

(Not offered 2016-17).

1 unit

BE280 Population Genetics

Classical genetics as it applies to understanding the evolution of populations. This course examines the following topics: genetic issues of small and isolated populations, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, factors affecting allele frequencies, variance and F-statistics, molecular methods, and quantitative genetics. This course also includes discussions of contemporary issues in applied population genetics and laboratory investigations.

Prerequisite: Molecular Biology 131, Organismal Biology and Ecology 208, and Chemistry 108; or consent of instructor.

1 unit — Heschel

BE302 Advanced Field Research Methods in Botany

This class will build upon the introductory field botany skills acquired in BE202 and BE208. Using local environments and field problems, the class will investigate local and regional issues of plant diversity, conservation, and biotic interactions. We will focus on expanding botanical skills in plant identification, vegetation assessment, and biodiversity documentation that are valuable for research, internships, and job applications, and employ these skills in the context of answering questions related to field-based botanical issues. The class will involve extensive field, laboratory, and herbarium work, as well as the development of an individual field-based research project. Local and regional field trips, some possibly overnight with camping. Students should be prepared for long hours under sometimes inclement weather conditions. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 105 & 106 and Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 or Environmental Program 209.

1 unit

BE308 Advanced Ecology

Field studies and theoretical topics selected to illustrate the research process and ecological thought. Will include use of ecological literature.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor or Organismal Biology and Ecology 208.

1 unit — Ebersole

BE309 Research Problems in Organismal Biology and Ecology

Independent research projects based on laboratory or field investigation. Experimental studies completed away from campus must receive prior departmental approval. (Class, laboratory or field activities arranged.) (Only 2 units from 309, 403, 409 or 499 may count toward the OBE major.)

Prerequisite: consent of instructor & 2 from Organismal Biology and Ecology 105, 106, 107 or Molecular Biology 131 (total 3) & arranged 1 block ahead.

1 unit — Brandley, Ebersole, Gray, Heschel

BE330 Parastic Protozoa

The biology of parasitic protozoa in humans and other animals. Lecture, laboratory and readings will focus on host-parasite relations, life histories, morphology, and physiology of parasitic protozoa. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 106 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE331 Parastic Helminths

The biology of worms parasitic in humans and other animals. Lecture, laboratory and readings will focus on host-parasite relations, life histories, morphology, and physiology of parasitic helminths. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 106 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE332 Animal Behavior

A comparative study of the diversities of behavioral systems of animals. Lecture, laboratory and field work include ethological theories and methods, emphasizing observation, denotation and analysis of behavior.

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 and 106 or consent of instructor.

1 unit — Brandley

BE341 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

Special topics in Biology not offered on a regular basis.

.5 unit — Ebersole

BE342 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

1 unit

BE343 Special Topics in organismal Biology and Ecology

(Not offered 2016-17).

1 unit

BE344 Scanning Electron Microscopy

Basic principles of electron optical systems, image formation, specimen preparation, and photography. Individual instruction in the care, use and operation of the instrument as a research tool is emphasized. in the natural sciences.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing & prior course work in natural science.

1 unit — Hathaway

BE345 Transmission Electron Microscopy

Basic principles of electron optical systems, image formation, specimen preparation, ultramicrotomy, and photography. Individual instruction in the care, use, and operation of the instrument as a research tool is emphasized.

Prerequisite: Molecular Biology 131 or Sophomore Standing.

1 unit — Hathaway

BE348 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

1 unit

BE349 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

1 unit

BE362 Plant Ecology

Descriptive and analytical studies of plant communities and populations. Field work includes sampling techniques and their application to answer specific research questions. Readings and discussions cover the various perspectives and theories of plant ecology. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 208,BE 105.

1 unit

BE365 Plant Physiology

Whole plant physiology with an emphasis on growth and development through examination of structure and function of cells and organs, metabolism, stress biology, and phytohormones. Includes discussions of primary literature in the discipline, a laboratory investigation and an emphasis on writing a scientific paper. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: 1)BE 105;2)MB 131 and 3)Chemistry 250 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE366 Comparative Animal Physiology

A whole-animal perspective on survival and maintenance of homeostasis in variable and often stressful environments. We will focus on aspects of water balance, feeding, digestion, metabolism, respiration and circulation. Course includes field and laboratory investigations.

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 and Molecular Biology 131, and Organismal Biology and Ecology 106; or consent of instructor.

1 unit — Gray

BE367 Animal Ecology

A field course involving collection, identification, and population and life-history studies of animals of regional ecosystems. Principles of animal ecology, behavior, and biogeography, are emphasized through field case studies and discussion of primary literature. Field work includes sampling techniques and their application to answer specific research questions.

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 106, & Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 consent of instructor.

1 unit — Linkhart

BE369 Tropical Ecology

Introduction to the ecology of tropical wet forests and coral reefs, with emphasis on the high biological diversity common to these ecosystems. The course is linked to BE 370 Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Ecology, and students must enroll in both courses.

Prerequisite: Jr or Sr standing, Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 & enrollment in Organismal Biology and Ecology 370.

.5 unit — Drummond, Snyder

BE370 Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Ecology

Ecology of tropical wet forests and coral reefs taught at forest and reef sites in the tropics. Field studies, theoretical topics, and primary ecological literature will be used to explore interactions in these systems, with emphasis on selected organisms and system characteristics. The course is linked to cross-cultural experience with local people. The course is linked to BE 369 Tropical Ecology, and students must enroll in both courses. EXTRA EXPENSE. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing, BE 208, BE 369, and good swimming ability. 1 unit--Linkhart and Snyder.

Prerequisite: Jr or Sr standing, Organismal Biology and Ecology 208, 369 & good swimming ability. EXTRA EXPENSE.

1 unit — Drummond, Snyder

BE375 Environmental Microbiology

Study of the ecology of microbes in environments as diverse as deep-ocean volcanic vents; termite hind guts; the lithosphere; the human guts; plant roots; ice of the Arctic and Antarctic; and terrestrial models of extra-terrestrial environments. Emphasis on discussion of primary literature in environmental microbiology and microbial ecology. Significant laboratory component and minor field component. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 107, , Molecular Biology 131, Molecular Biology 231 and Chemistry 108; or consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE389 Patagonian Ecology and Biogeography

Introduction to the ecology and biogeography of Patagonia, including montane, steppe and coastal ecosystems. The course is linked to BE 390 Ecology and Biogeography of Patagonia, and students must enroll in both courses. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing. Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 and enrollment in Organismal Biology and Ecology 390.

.5 unit

BE390 Ecology and Biogeography of Patagonia

On-site investigations of the ecology and biogeography of Andean mountain forests and Patagonian steppe and studies of the ecology of several marine vertebrate species at the Atlantic coast. Students will read and present original literature, meet with local scientists at their study sites, and develop hypotheses that could be tested in the ecosystems we visit. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing, Organismal Biology and Ecology 208, Organismal Biology and Ecology 389 (half-block), and consent of instructor. (taught in Patagonia) Extra Expense.

1 to 2 units

BE409 Research Problems in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

Independent research projects based on laboratory or field investigation., consent of instructor, and registration at least one block prior to the block in which the research is to be initiated. Experimental studies completed away from campus must receive prior departmental approval. (Class, laboratory or field activities arranged.) (Only 2 units from 309, 403, 409 or 499 may count toward the Organismal Biology and Ecology major.)

Prerequisite: consent of instructor & 2 from 105, 106, 107, Molecular Biology 131 (total 3) & arranged 1 block ahead.

1 unit — Brandley, Ebersole, Gray, Heschel

BE410 Ornithology

Identification, taxonomy, anatomy, physiology, behavior and ecology of birds, including field and laboratory work.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor or Organismal Biology and Ecology 367.

1 unit — Linkhart

BE412 Entomology

Evolution, taxonomy, structure, physiology, development, behavior and ecology of insects. Laboratory includes identification, dissection, experimentation, curation and field work.

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 106, and Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 or consent of instructor.

1 unit — Drummond

BE415 Seminar in Evolutionary Biology

A capstone course primarily for upper level organismal biology and ecology students. We will examine and critique classical concepts of evolutionary theory and their modern extensions through reading scientific literature and by drawing upon students' previous knowledge and experience in diverse fields of biology. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: 2 units from Organismal Biology and Ecology 105, 106, 107, and 1 unit from Molecular Biology 231, Organismal Biology and Ecology 280.

1 unit

BE421 Conservation Biology

Conservation issues of plant and animal species, habitats, and ecological systems will be examined through reading, discussion, and project-based exploration of local, national, and global examples. Core components of conservation biology theory such as habitat fragmentation, problems of small populations, rarity, genetic erosion, reserve design, and invasive species will be emphasized in the context of the local environment. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 105, 208, Organismal Biology and Ecology 106, and Molecular Biology 131.

1 unit

BE422 Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Ecology

This course explores links between the biosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere across many different scales, from the microorganism to the globe. The primary focus will be on the cycling of biologically important elements in natural and managed ecosystems with an emphasis on how these cycles will change under increased human influence. Students will gain hands-on research experience using analytical techniques in the field and the laboratory, and they will share their results in a formal scientific paper and presentation. (Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: (BE/EV 209) & (Environmental Program 155 or Geology 130 or 140) & (Mathematics 117 or Organismal Biology and Ecology 220 or Economics 200) or consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE440 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology. Special topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology not offered on a regular basis.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor & Junior or Senior standing.

1 unit — Ebersole

BE442 Special Topics in organismal Biology and Ecology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE443 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 208.

1 unit

BE446 Special Topics in Organismal Biology and Ecology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE447 Special Topics in Organismal Biology:

(Not offered 2016-17).

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

1 unit

BE475 Techniques in Molecular Ecology and Systematics

A course on the techniques employed in molecular ecology and molecular systematics, such as DNA fingerprinting, DNA sequencing, phylogenetics and 'DNA barcoding.' The class will discuss primary literature in the areas of ecology, systematics, conservation biology and biodiversity, with an emphasis on the appropriate application of molecular techniques in these disciplines and on the interpretation of molecular data. Laboratory projects will involve DNA sequencing and phylogenetics.

Prerequisite: Organismal Biology and Ecology 208 and either Organismal Biology and Ecology 280 and Molecular Biology 231 or consent of instructor.

1 unit — Wilson

BE499 Senior Thesis

Writing of the senior thesis based on data from an undergraduate research project. The thesis topic is to be chosen by the student following consultation with a member of the Biology Department faculty who agrees to serve as the project and thesis advisor. (Only 2 units from 309, 403, 409 may count toward the Organismal Biology and Ecology major; only 1 unit of 499 may count toward the major.)

1 unit — Brandley, Heschel