Kerry Woods, Dickinson
143, 440-4465, firstname.lastname@example.org,
office hours Tues, Wed and
times: Monday 2:00-4:00, Thursday 2:00-6:00
148 (and 146 for lab)
This class is an exploration of plant biology with two primary
foci. The class will serve as an introduction to the
plants -- particularly of the local flora -- and the concepts and tools
necessary to become a competent field taxonomist. At the same
time, we will look at how plants make their living in the natural world
and how the diversity of plant adaptations can be understood in the
context of environmental adaptation and species interactions.
While there will be some necessary discussion of the underlying
plumbing (physiology, development, genetics, evolution), the focus will
be primarily on the natural history of the whole organism, and on
development and refinement of observational skills -- how to see
will be a lot of lab and field work
-- the practicum of
'seeing' -- both as a class and
individually, on your own.
will be a variety of field and
lab exercises and assignments, maybe some short quizzes or question
sets, and two larger
individual projects/papers. For those requesting grades,
two projects will account for about 40% of your grade; smaller
exercises and assignments about 40%; and other evidence of
participation and engagement the remainder.
Most importantly, since observation,
exploration in the field and lab are central to the purposes of the
class; general engagement and initiative is
important and will count for a lot. To do well in the class
engage in independent work outside of class time as well as be
present and engaged in the class and lab. If you miss classes
(more than 2-3 times) your evaluation will be affected, and absences
may lead to failure. Attending
scheduled LABS is
essential, and timeliness is important, especially for
field labs, where late arrival may mean missing the trip.
You'll be expected to spend a substantial amount of time in individual,
independent observation and exploration. This is essential to
gaining comfort and expertise as a naturalist (just as any
with tools or instruments requires practice), and it will be obvious
whether you've been doing it!
time will be spent in various mixes of classroom, lab, and field.
EVERY THURSDAY, unless otherwise informed, you
to class prepared to go outside, possibly into rough terrain, with
appropriate clothes and footwear
as well as field-guides, lens, and field notebook. Several
Thursdays will involve off-campus field-trips. When we have off-campus FIELD
TRIPS, we'll use the FULL THURSDAY
MEETING TIME for
field trip -- from 2:00 (or maybe earlier) to 6:00 -- so you MUST be on
detailed schedule later, but expect these from mid-April onwards
BOOKS AND READINGS AND
is no required general textbook for this class, but I recommend
that you acquire a general botany/plant bio text for
reference/background purposes. The best, in most people's
opinion, is "Raven
by Evert and Eichhorn (earlier editions are
just called "Biology of
Raven is first author). It's currently in 8th edition, I
think. You should be able to get a used copy at a reasonable
of the last couple of editions would be fine. There are also
good web resources for general
reference, including some free online textbooks (see below).
What IS required is
you have books for identification of plants in the field.
combinations are possible, but a good starting combination might
include the first two on this list:
Field Guide to Eastern Trees.
Both of these are
user-friendly, illustrated, and include taxonomic KEYS (essential) --
but they are not totally complete
- A more technical and complete guide to
WOODY plants (including vines and small shrubs) is Muenscher's Keys to Woody
It's very complete
and up to date, but
- A bulkier, but very thorough regional
flora is Flora Novae
published by the New England Wild Flower Society. I'll have a
couple of copies available in the lab.
- NEWFS also supports a web-based plant
you SHOULD use this -- but it's only going to be available when you
have internet access.
You must also each have:
- A good hand-lens
-- at least 10X. The Bausch & Lomb 'Coddington' is a
standard, but there are a cheaper ones. Real plant geeks will
also carry a 14X or 20X lengs (e.g., Bausch & Lomb 'Hastings
Triplet') as well. All available on Amazon (and maybe in
- and a field notebook
(something that's tough enough to take rough
treatment and wet weather, and convenient for carrying and writing or
in the field). You'll want to use PENCIL in the field.
people like to have two notebooks -- one for rough notes and sketches
in the field, and one into which all of that is transcribed in neater
more organized fashion. You can use whatever you
Field-people often use the 'Rite in the Rain' waterproof field notebook
series; they come in many sizes and shapes.
WEB RESOURCES (including
Finally, here are some potentially useful web resources:
- Go Botany
is New England Wild-flower Society's on-line, interactive plant ID/key
tool. It's excellent
- Here's an online
intro botany text
by Alexey Shipunov that has some good material; a lot of it focuses on
physiological/cellular stuff, but it is current ,has a good glossary
and good illustrations of a lot of stuff we will cover
- Here's another
which is basically a compilation of Wikipedia articles
- Wikipedia is actually a pretty good
taxonomy and evolution of plants; look up particular species, families,
etc. It's not so good for more ecological stuff.
online botany text
that's in the process of translation from German. Very
but not all available in English yet. Very good for
illustrations, definitions, material supporting some of the background
- Botanical Society of
- A dictionary of botanical
from the California Flora project
- and another
the Missouri Botanical Garden (a top place; explore their website...)
- a large archive of
illustrations, photos, micrographs
of many plant types and
strucutres from Univ. of Wisconsin
- a website about botanical art
, more of same
- Three of the most important botanical
These are just a beginning; explore.
This is approximate, and will very likely change (chapters from recent
Raven's Biology of Plants if you wish...)
lab will be a mix of “survey” work -- getting acquainted with plant
anatomy and taxonomic groups -- and exercises focused on plant function
Expect to spend the full lab period, particularly on field
ALWAYS bring a notebook to lab,
INCLUDING FIELD TRIPS, and assume that ANY LAB MAY BE OUT-DOORS unless
I say specifically otherwise in class before-hand. SO, EVERY THURSDAY
come dressed and
prepared for the weather even if it's wet or cold. For only moderately
nasty weather, dress warmly or bring rain gear as appropriate.
Good FOOTWEAR is important; expect wet ground and off-trail walking.
should be suitable for use
outside (or get a separate field notebook) – easy to carry, robust,
attractive because other people may
see it. I recommend waterproof notebooks (e.g.,
‘Rite-in-the-rain’; the bookstore will have some), but you can always
stick it in a clear plastic bag. BRING
A PENCIL TO LAB; ink runs when it gets wet.
ALSO ALWAYS BRING
plant book(s) for first few weeks; wildflower book starting April.
You may want to get some sort of field bag to carry
all this stuff, and for bringing back souvenirs or plant material for
Lab schedule will be flexible, dependent on weather and
projects, but first weeks of term, THURSDAYS will be a mix of
lab, and field time on campus. After Long Weekend, we'll
the FULL THURSDAY 2:00 - 6:00 IN THE FIELD, often off campus.
AND there MAY BE one weekend field-trip in early-mid May.
This trip is will not
-- but it
will be fun and a great opportunity to expand your botanical horizons.
Here is the evolving schedule for now:
structure and identification: use of keys, winter
In adition to the keys in your field guides, check out:
keys and PHOTOS of buds and twigs, as well as leaves and other materials
A simple twig
and bud key
be a good back-up for common species with links to good bud and
Continuing with above and time in
lab, with microscopic and prepared materials, getting acquainted with
general plant structures and anatomy.
Mix of lab
and on-campus field-work, touring major plant groups and their main
of term: Mostly
field-trips on and off-campus.