You may submit up to four extra credit essays – a maximum of two of each of the options listed below…

Extra Credit Option 1 – Journal Article Response

Total points possible: 10

Due at the end of finals period

Objectives:
1. Connect the content of this course with active research areas in the expanding, dynamic field of population ecology.
2. Engage with original scientific literature in this field of study.

Select a peer-reviewed journal article on a topic relevant to population ecology.

  • The article should develop a population model to address a conservation or management question - The article could present newly collected data that were then analyzed to parameterize a population model, OR could present an analysis of already existing data to develop a different population model than has already been developed for the species/system. - For an example of the type of article you should look for (PDF is in the “Files” folder on WebCampus and linked to the assignment page):

Crowder, Larry B., Crouse, D., Heppell, S., and Martin, T. 1994. Predicting the impact of turtle excluder devices on loggerhead sea turtle populations. Ecological Applications 4(3):437–445.

Write a response to the article you select:

  1. No more than 2 pages, double-spaced, size 12 font.
  2. Use essay format: write in complete sentences and coherent paragraphs.
  3. Three main elements to write about:
    • Summarize main methods and results
    • Identify how the research was applied to a particular conservation or management issue, and describe the relationship between the research and the contents of this course.
    • Provide your personal response to the article - why did you choose to read it, what did you like about it, and what did you learn?

Upload your written response and a PDF of the journal article to WebCampus by May 9.

Extra Credit Option #2 – Population Ecology Talk

Total points possible: 10

Due at the end of finals period

Objectives:

  1. Augment the course by learning directly from other experts in the field of population ecology.
  2. Engage with researchers and/or methods of scientific communication beyond textbooks and peer-reviewed literature to gain a better understanding of applications of population ecology to conservation or management issues.

Attend (in-person or online) a talk or seminar on a topic relevant to population ecology.

  • The talk, presentation, or seminar should directly discuss population model(s) and the application to a conservation or management question
    • The list of suggested online or in-person talks to attend will continuously be updated throughout the semester on the Discussion thread on WebCampus.
    • If you discover a talk you’d like to attend that is not on the list, please obtain prior approval to make sure it will be accepted for this assignment (and let your fellow classmates know about the opportunity on WebCampus!).
    • The talk/presentation should be a minimum of 20 min long.

Write a response to the talk you attended:

  1. No more than 2 pages, double-spaced, size 12 font.
  2. Use essay format: write in complete sentences and coherent paragraphs.
  3. Three main facets to write about:
    • What themes/models/dynamics were discussed that are directly related to what you’ve learned about in class?
    • What was the conservation or management issue that the researcher(s) addressed? What surprising or novel findings did the researcher(s) present?
    • Provide your personal response to the talk - why did you choose to attend, and what did you like about it? Was there anything that was unclear or that you would like to learn more about?

Upload your written response to WebCampus by May 9.

Grading Rubric, option 1:

Criteria Details Points.Possible
Article selection Provide complete citation of journal article at the top of your written response: 1
(1) Peer-reviewed NA
(2) Topic relevant to course NA
Summary One or two paragraphs: 3
(1) Identify main research question or hypothesis. NA
(2) Accurately summarize relevant methods NA
·         How were data gathered? NA
·         What analyses were performed to estimate model parameters? NA
·         How was the final model selected? NA
·         Note: Do your best to use plain English for this summary, highlighting what makes sense to you in terms of what we’ve gone over in class. NA
(3) Accurately relay main findings, conclusions, and/or importance of findings in an ecological context. NA
Describe application of research to conserve-ation or management One or two paragraphs 3
(1) How does this article apply the principles of population ecology to a relevant management or conservation problem? NA
(2) How could these methods/approaches be applied to a similar (or different!) system, conservation problem, or management issue? NA
(3) What, if anything, was novel or unusual about this approach or method? Does this article advance the field of population ecology or our understanding of the particular ecological system? NA
Personal response One or two paragraphs 3
(1) Why did you select this article? NA
(2) What relevance does this article have for either your work in this class, your degree program, and/or your present or future career? NA
(3) If you were to perform this same study, would you keep everything the same? What would you change? NA
(4) What did you find particularly interesting, intriguing, or surprising about this study? NA
#### Grading Rubric, option 2:
Criteria Details Points.Possible
Talk selection Provide complete information about the talk you attended (speaker, title, location/institution, website (if applicable). 1
(1) Topic relevant to course
Concepts relevant to course One or two paragraphs: 3
(1) Identify specific concepts discussed in the talk that we’ve been learning about in class.
(2) How were these concepts presented in the talk?
·         What was familiar about how the concepts were discussed?
·         What, if anything, did you learn about these concepts that you hadn’t considered before or that you were unaware about?
(3) Identify one concept in the talk that either (a) has not been discussed in class, or (b) has been discussed in class but you’d like to learn about it in more depth.
Describe application of research/ information to conserve-ation or man-agement One or two paragraphs 3
(1) What management or conservation problem was the talk primarily concerned with?
·         Explain the management or conservation challenge.
·         Summarize how the researcher attempted to address the challenge using population ecology.
(2) Do you think the researcher’s approach could be generalized to other systems or species? Why or why not?
(3) Are you satisfied that the researcher(s) solved the problem? Why or why not?
Personal response One or two paragraphs 3
(1) What did you find particularly effective about this talk?
·         For example: was the researcher a particularly dynamic speaker? Did the audience ask a really insightful question that left you thinking more about the talk? Were the visuals provided effective at communicating essential information?
(2) If you had to summarize the talk’s “take-away” message in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
(3) If you were to give a similar presentation to a similar audience, what would you choose to borrow from this talk in order to be an effective communicator? Is there anything you would do differently to make your message more clearly understood?
(4) What did you find particularly interesting, intriguing, or surprising about this study?

Suggestions for how to search online for relevant peer-reviewed journal articles:

Note: A “peer-reviewed journal article” is an article that has been reviewed by experts in the topic area as part of the journal’s formal editorial and publication process. To determine whether your article is “peer-reviewed”, go to the Ulrichs database (available through UNR’s Knowledge Center: http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com/) and search for the journal’s name in the search box. On the results page, click on the title of your journal. In the “Basic Description” table that appears, look for the “Refereed” field – if “Yes”, that means the journal is peer-reviewed.

Through UNR’s Knowledge Center:

Search strings to consider:

population ecology AND [taxon or genus or species name]
demographic model AND [taxon or genus or species name]
population growth AND conservation
population dynamics AND management
population model AND harvest
stage-structured population
(The “” acts as a wildcard, meaning the search will return results with either “population” or “populations”. This works in Web of Science, but won’t do anything in Google Scholar because Google Scholar automatically searches for results containing the same root but different word endings.)
metapopulation dynamics AND (endangered species OR “species of concern”) predator-prey dynamics