Syllabus is now set

The course syllabus is now set. The lecture schedule may change a bit as the semester proceeds, but the basic requirements for the course as described on the Overview and Peer evaluation pages. Please look everything over before lecture on Monday.

The notes for the first week of lecture will be available by Sunday evening, if not before. I'll post a notice here when they're ready.

Just about there

Holly and I are meeting tomorrow morning to go over final details for the class. By tomorrow afternoon or evening, I'll have the due date of the final paper posted. Once that's done everything is set and ready to go. I look forward to seeing you bright and early (8:00am) on Tuesday in TLS 301.

Getting ready for Fall 2015

If you're stopping by looking for information on the Fall 2015 edition of EEB 5310, welcome. I've just started updating the course website. The lecture schedule and course overview are in reasonably good shape, but everything is still in a state of flux. It will be a week or two before it all settles down.

What that means for you is that the materials you see here give a good general guide to what the course will be like, how it will be structured, what the requirements are, and what the schedule looks like. Just keep in mind that all of it is subject to change. I'll make another post here when I'm confident that the requirements and schedule are solid, even if the contents still need some editorial work.

By the way, if you're on Twitter, you don't need to remember to check the website regularly to find updates. You can either follow me (@keholsinger) or the hashtag #EEB5310. I've set things up so that every announcement that appears here is cross-posted to Twitter after a short delay.

Just in case you're still listening

There's an interesting (and brief) article in today's Nature that I highly recommend: Conservation: the Endangered Species Act at 40. It consists of brief reflections from four scientists who have been involved with endangered species protection and has some valuable insights. You can bet that I'll be referring to this article when I teach Conservation Biology again in 2015.

Final grades posted

I just posted final grades to PeopleSoft. I managed to grade all papers that I received, so if you submitted your final paper, you should be able to see your final grade very soon. I won't have time to send back papers until Friday or possibly even Saturday. If you have any questions about your final grade, please wait until you've received your final paper before contacting me.

Thank you for a great semester. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

I know the semester is over, but

If you're reading this you might be interested in a pair of papers in Trends in Ecology & Evolution that were just made available as corrected proof:

A horizon scan of global conservation issues for 2014:

What is the future of conservation?

Your evaluations of me

Please don't forget to fill out the online evaluation of this course when you have a chance. Right now only 3 of you have responded. I'm hoping for 100 percent. (Keep in mind that I won't be able to see the results of the survey until after I've turned in your grades. So be as brutally honest as you think you need to be. There's no way it could affect the grade I'll assign.)

Final class discussion

As you'll recall, our final class meeting is next Tuesday, 3 December. We'll spend the first 45 minutes discussing Project #3, the reserve plan for Tejon Ranch. Then I'll have to leave for a Deans' Council meeting. Laura will lead a discussion of two papers for the last half hour. You'll find a link to the papers on the lecture detail page for Tuesday (link).

The Thomas paper is a commentary on the paper by Vellend et al. Vellend and his co-authors make a provocative claim based on their meta-analysis of local-scale species diversity in plant communities:

A major advance of the last 20 y at the interface of biological, environmental, and conservation sciences has been the demonstration that plant biodiversity positively influences ecosystem function. Linking these results to applied conservation efforts hinges on the assumption that biodiversity is actually declining at the local scale at which diversity-function relationships are strongest. Our compilation and analysis of a global database of >16,000 repeat survey vegetation plots from habitats across the globe directly contradict this assumption. We find no general tendency for local-scale plant species diversity to decline over the last century, calling into question the widespread use of ecosystem function experiments to argue for the importance of biodiversity conservation in nature. (emphasis added)

Please come prepared to discuss these results and what they mean for conservation biology.

Peer evaluations for Project #3

Peer evaluations for Project #3 will be due at 5:00pm on Monday, 2 December - the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The first 45 minutes of the lecture on 3 December will review Project #3. Laura will lead a discussion for the last 30 minutes. I hope to post 2-3 relevant readings later this week or early in Thanksgiving week.

If you are traveling over Thanksgiving, please travel safely.

Global forest cover change

A paper in yesterday's Science descries construction of a high-resolution map for forest cover change worldwide. The image above is a screen shot of the area around UConn, with areas in red showing where forest cover was lost from 2000-2012. Here's the abstract from the paper:

Quantification of global forest change has been lacking despite the recognized importance of forest ecosystem services. In this study, Earth observation satellite data were used to map global forest loss (2.3 million square kilometers) and gain (0.8 million square kilometers) from 2000 to 2012 at a spatial resolution of 30 meters. The tropics were the only climate domain to exhibit a trend, with forest loss increasing by 2101 square kilometers per year. Brazil's well-documented reduction in deforestation was offset by increasing forest loss in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, and elsewhere. Intensive forestry practiced within subtropical forests resulted in the highest rates of forest change globally. Boreal forest loss due largely to fire and forestry was second to that in the tropics in absolute and proportional terms. These results depict a globally consistent and locally relevant record of forest change.

You can explore the data at