General Course Information

Course Lecturer Name(s): Paula Spiniello

Course Director Name: Paula Spiniello

Course Lecturer(s) Contact Information:

Course Director Contact Information: 

Course Lecturer(s) Office Hours:  by appointment 

Course Director Office Hours: by appointment

Course Lecturer(s) Office Location: Caribbean House, 2nd floor/Online

Course Director Office Location: TBD

Course Support: Anna Neckles-Thomas,, x3435

Course Management tool: To learn to use Sakai, the Course management tool, access the link

Course Curriculum Information
  1. Develop an ecological intuition based on a deep understanding of the processes and interactions that lead to ecological patterns. 
  2. Describe and integrate basic information related to ecology including ecosystems, their structure and function; population growth and the factors influencing this growth; communities and their emergent properties; and ecological succession and the role of environmental disturbance in this process. 
  3. Understand the types of questions that ecologists ask, how they relate to one another, and how we go about answering them.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Please see Course and Session Learning Outcomes document in the Resources folder.

Technical Skills Outcomes: 

TSO-BIOL310-1-Use of word processing and presentation software to display and communicate data.  

Program Outcomes Met By This Course:

MWC-PLO1. KNOWLEDGE: Apply knowledge of the biological and physical components of life, and use this knowledge to understand the interrelationships of organisms with each other and their physical environments. 

MWC-PLO2. APPLICABILITY: Analyze key global ecological and conservation issues to promote long-term species viability and health of marine and terrestrial environments, with an emphasis on the Caribbean. 

MWC-PLO4. COMMUNICATION & CRITICAL THINKING: Use relevant scientific literature and demonstrate independent, critical thinking while communicating scientific knowledge effectively in different media.

SAS Grading Scale: Grades will be assigned as follows:

A  = 89.5% or better

B+ = 84.5 - 89.4%

B  = 79.5 - 84.4%

C+ = 74.5 - 79.4%

C = 69.5 - 74.4%

D = 64.5 - 69.4%

F = 64.4% or less

Course Materials:

Class materials and selected readings will be taken from the following books:

Begon, M., Townsend, C.R. and J.L. Harper. 2006. Ecology – From Individuals to Ecosystems. 4th Edition. Blackwell Publishing. 759 pages.

Smith, R.L. and T.M. Smith. 2015. Elements of Ecology – 9th edition. Pearson Publishing. San Francisco. 704 pages. 

Supplementary Readings/Resources: 

Additional reading materials and resources will be posted on Sakai. 

Course Grading Requirement:

Student learning will be assessed by: 

  • Two (2) Group Topic Presentations:15% x 2 = 30%
  • Four (4) Exams 15% x 4 = 60%
  • Two (2) Assignments 5% x 2 = 10%
  • TOTAL: 100 %

Course Requirements:


Course Schedule




1 (01/17-20)

Introduction to the course, syllabus, groups, grading, and assignments.

Ecology and Ecological systems

2 (01/24-27)

Climate as an expression of physical environment.

The Aquatic and the Terrestrial Environments

3 (01/21-02/03)

Topic Presentations:

1) Soil Erosion as a threat to agricultural sustainability. 2) Genetic engineering and its application

Adaptations and Natural Selection

4 (02/07-10)

Exam 1

Population Properties

5 (02/14-17)

Population growth

Life History

6 (02/21-24)

Intraspecific Competition/Regulation Submission assignment 1

Interspecific Competition

7 (02/28-03/02)


Topic Presentations:

  1. Habitat loss and population declines and extinctions.
  2. Urban Ecology: Ecology in the context of human environment.

8 (03/07-10)

NO CLASS – Exam 2

9 (03/14-17)

Parasitism and Mutualism

Community Structure

10 (03/21-24)

Factors influencing community structure Submission assignment 2

Community Dynamics

11 (03/28-31)

Topic Presentations: 

  1. Restoration Ecology and its approaches
  2. Reforestation 

Landscape dynamics

12 (04/04-07)

Ecosystem Energetics

Exam 3

13 (04/11-14)

Biogeochemical cycles

Terrestrial Ecosystems

14 (04/18-21)

Aquatic Ecosystems

Coastal and Wetlands Ecosystems

15 (04/25-28)

Patterns of Biological Diversity

Topic Presentations:

  1. Ecological Corridors enhancing conservation
  2. Dead zones in coastal waters

16 (05/2-5)

NO CLASS – Exam 4

School of Arts and Sciences Master Syllabi — Info for All Sections

Plagiarism Policy

Academic Integrity

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Plagiarism is regarded as a cardinal offense in academia because it constitutes theft of the work of someone else, which is then purported as the original work of the plagiarist. Plagiarism draws into disrepute the credibility of the Institution, its faculty, and students; therefore, it is not tolerated” (p. 48).

Plagiarism also includes the unintentional copying or false accreditation of work, so double check your assignments BEFORE you hand them in.

Be sure to do good, honest work, credit your sources and reference accordingly and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. Plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with very seriously following the university’s policies on Plagiarism as outlined in the Student Manual.

Your work may be subject to submission to plagiarism detection software, submission to this system means that your work automatically becomes part of that database and can be compared with the work of your classmates.

Attendance Requirement

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Students are expected to attend all classes and or clinical rotations for which they have registered. Although attendance may not be recorded at every academic activity, attendance may be taken randomly. Students’ absence may adversely affect their academic status as specified in the grading policy. If absence from individual classes, examinations, and activities, or from the University itself is anticipated, or occurs spontaneously due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, proper notification procedures must be followed. A particular course may define additional policies regarding specific attendance or participation” (p. 9).

Examination Attendance

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

All matriculated students are expected to attend all assigned academic activities for each course currently registered. Medical excuses will be based on self-reporting by students. Students who feel they are too sick to take an examination or other required activity on a specific day must submit the online SAS medical excuse, which is available on Carenage. Students are only allowed two such excuses a year. Upon consultation with the Director of University Health Service, the third excuse will result in a mandatory medical leave of absence. The policies regarding make-up examinations are at the option of the Course Director” (p.46).

For additional specific examination policies and procedures, refer to the St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020), pages 31 through 37.

Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services Policy

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

A student with a disability or disabling condition that affects one or more major life activities, who would like to request an accommodation, must submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to the Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) located in the Dean of Students Office. It is highly recommended that students applying for accommodations do so at least one month before classes begin to allow for a more efficient and timely consideration of the request. If a fully completed application is not submitted in a timely fashion, an eligibility determination may not be made, and accommodations, where applicable, may not be granted prior to the commencement of classes and/or examinations” (p. 8).


It is the responsibility of the student to read and understand the policies, laws, rules and procedures that while they could affect your grade for a course, have not been specifically outlined in the course syllabus. These are contained in the St. George’s University Student Manual.