BIOL-6C: Ecology & Evolution


Biology-6C is the concluding component of the three major courses for serious enthusiasts of the biological sciences to present the foundations of life's processes and the methods for scientific investigation.

We will relate the principles of organismal biology and diversity of form and function explored in BIOL-6A to discover how organisms interact with others of its species, with other species, and with their physical environment. In turn, we will investigate how these interactions determine the distribution and diversity of organisms on different spatial and temporal scales. Further, we will examine human impacts on these interactions, distributions and diversity. We will also implement the concepts of biological inheritance studied in BIOL-6B to examine how the result of these environmental interactions can result in evolution of populations and speciation.

The field portions of the course provide hands-on experience in environmental sampling, surveying, and monitoring. You will also be introduced to the most of the specific ecosystems in our region. And last, but certainly not least, you will develop your aptitude in research and scientific methodology by conducting an independent study project.
  • Required Text: Campbell Biology, 11th ed., Urry. L.A., et al; Pearson Education, 2017.  (10th edition OK)
  • Required Field Guides:
    •  Pacific Coast Tree Finder, 2nd ed., Watts, T.; Nature Study Guild, 2002.
    •  Local Birds of the San Francisco Bay Area; Local Birds, Inc.
  • Required Software: SimBio Virtual Labs® in SimUText® version 2.11.x (PC or Mac version); the SimUText student voucher & access code may be purchased from the college Bookstore
  • Mobile Apps:
    • iNaturalist, California Academy of Sciences [free download for Apple or Android]
    • Merlin Bird ID, Cornell Lab of Ornithology [free download for Apple or Android]
  • Additional required materials:
    • A stitch-bound, unlined journal or field record book for field notes and illustrations
    • Large clips or clipboard to hold papers under windy field conditions
    • Colored pencils
    • Attire appropriate for specific field sites (especially sturdy, comfortable walking shoes); sunscreen & hat
    • Transportation to field sites — parking is often limited; carpooling is strongly urged!
    • Required field trip fees:
      • SF Bay Refuge / Charleston Slough / Baylands: $5 
        (donation to Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society)
      • San Francisco Zoo: $20
      • Monterey Bay Aquarium: $40

Catalog Information

Prerequisites & Advisories

How to Succeed in this Course!

Safety Issues

Assignments & Grading

Catalog Information

BIOL 6C: Ecology and Evolution

6 Units
Hours: Four hours lecture, six hours laboratory (120 hours total per quarter).

Degree Status: Credit course - Degree applicable
Transfer Status: CSU & UC
General Education Status: De Anza areas B & ESGC; CSU area B2; UC [IGETC] area 5-B
Grading Method: Letter Grade only

Prerequisite: Biology 6A and 6B, with a grade of C or better.
Advisory: English Writing 1A or English as a Second Language 5; Mathematics 114 or equivalent.

Principles of ecology and evolution. Includes ecology of populations, communities, ecosystems and biomes as well as evolution of populations, and the origin of species and higher taxa. The laboratory portion of the course includes a research project designed, researched and presented by students.

Course Justification
This course is the final course of a three-course series that is a major preparation requirement in the discipline of Biological Sciences for CSUs and UCs. It meets the general education requirement for CSUGE and IGETC, and it is required for completion of De Anza's Biological Sciences AS degree. This course provides students in the biological sciences with essential foundations in ecology and evolution.

Student Learning Outcome
Design and complete an independent ecological research project.

Course Objectives

A. Explore science as a process using ecological studies as examples.

B.  Discuss the characteristics of a population and examine the interactions of members of a population.

C. Discuss the characteristics of a biological community and examine the interactions of community members.

D. Discuss the characteristics of an ecosystem and examine the interactions of living and abiotic components of an ecosystem.

E. Describe the biomes of the world and compare their characteristics.

F. Explore Conservation Biology and Restoration Ecology as fields of study dedicated to mediating some of the negative impacts humans have had on the planet.

G. Explore animal behavior and illustrate the relationship between behavior and ecology and evolution.

H. Explore the concepts of Darwinian evolution.

I. Investigate populations as the smallest units of evolution.

J. Discuss mechanisms of speciation.

K. Investigate field skills, laboratory techniques and statistical analysis as necessary components of ecological studies.

Lab Topics

A. Scientific investigation: Display of data: tables and graphs

B. The steps involved in scientific process: observation, research, formulating a hypothesis, experimental design, interpreting results and discussion and conclusions

C. Analysis of data: mean, standard deviation, variance, standard error, chi-square, t-test, correlation analysis

D. Measuring biodiversity

E.  Focal animal observation

F. Estimating population size and dispersion

G. Behavioral ecology

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BIOL-6C brings together and builds upon many of the concepts and vocabulary in general biology. Therefore you must have completed BIOL-6A and -6B or their equivalent to enroll in this class.

Ecology employs many algebraic and statistical computations and requires above average math skills. Intermediate algebra equivalent to Math-114 is strongly recommended.

Students will be expected to interpret and accurately follow written exercises and compose written reports with an expected eloquence appropriate for scientific professionals. Coherent composition, accurate vocabulary, proper grammar, and correct spelling DO count! English skills equivalent to EWRT-1A or ESL-5 are highly recommended.

Biology-6A/B/C is the three-quarter introduction to biology for college students majoring in biology or a related science. This series is acceptable for transfer to the University of California and California State University systems and most other colleges. This course is equivalent or exceeds the rigor and depth of the corresponding introductory biology courses at these universities. Since the precise sequence of presented topics differs among institutions, it is strongly recommended that you complete the whole series at one college. 

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The accelerated pace of conforming a 6-unit, biological science major lab course into a six-week summer session is daunting! You must be prepared to invest a substantial allotment of time and effort to this endeavor. College standards state that a student should expect to spend two hours of preparation and homework time for each hour of lecture time. Since we are scheduled for three hours of lab and two hours of lecture every day, you should be prepared to devote five hours of class time plus four hours of non-class time each day to succeed in this course!

Some keys to success and satisfaction are:

  • Be prepared! Do the text reading before you come to class. If my lecture is the first you hear of a topic, you'll likely get lost. Especially with the pace we fly through topics: unprepared = frustrated. Prepare questions for unclear material - questioning is a form of active learning.
  • Download and print out the lecture slides, when available, and bring them to class. But don't expect them to replace taking notes. Taking notes is another form of active learning.
  • Develop good study habits. Spend time studying outside of class every day. Do not let yourself fall behind! Review lecture notes after each lecture. Be able to explain the concepts for each diagram presented in your own words.
  • Construct study tools. Learning content-intensive material such as Biology often requires many steps: seeing, hearing, thinking, and doing. Create a list of terms in bold print presented in lecture. Write out flashcards and reorganize your lectures notes after each lecture as physical activities to help you process the material.
  • I do not provide study guides for exams - that's your job! I will critique them though if you wish.
  • Form a study group! Repeated experience has shown that those who study collectively do better. A study group will help you get to know your fellow classmates and provide intellectual reinforcement as well as moral support. Come prepared to a group study session by reviewing lecture material on your own first. Compare notes and test each other. Learn by teaching: an excellent way to learn how well you understand a matter is by explaining it to someone else.

Participation in this class is expected to proceed with professionalism and mutual respect. Questions and experiences you have to clarify or enlarge on the topics being discussed are welcome. Please do not be distracting to your colleagues (including me) in class. Students are expected to be familiar with the Student Conduct Code and College Policies on academic integrity and academic freedom stated in the De Anza College Catalogue.

Individuals found engaging in cheating, plagiarism, or disruptive behavior will be expelled from the class, awarding a failing grade, and reported to the administration for further disciplinary sanctions. During exams, any action that even appears to possibly be cheating - exposed papers or writing, speaking or glances or gestures at another student, etc. - is sufficient to fail that exam!

Any student missing more than three lab sessions for any reason will fail the class. Non-participation in lab activities, frequent late arrivals or early departures are considered equivalent to absences. Students have the responsibility to drop themselves from the class if they realize they cannot successfully complete the course. Students not dropped from the class roster through Admissions and Records by the Drop Due Date must be given a grade! — No late drops!

Science majors are also expected to have read the BHES Division Student Handbook for additional advice and standards. The Handbook may be downloaded from



The college has a wide range of support services to provide students with assistance. These services range from tutoring and special short courses in reading and writing skills to financial aid and special programs for educational transition, reentry, and disabled students. If you would like to see if any of these programs would be of help to you, please check with the Counseling and Advising office in the Registration and Student Services (RSS) building. Consult your class schedule for a list of telephone numbers, or go to the Student Services website at .

If you need a special accommodation for a physical or learning disability, please talk to me after the first class session so that I can make appropriate adjustments in the class to meet your needs. Visit Disability Support Programs & Services (DSPS) in Learning Center West, room 110, for testing, advice, assistance, and special programs.



We have designed the laboratory exercises and field experiences to restrict hazards. But we will be handling sharp instruments, heavy apparatus, specimens in preservatives, and organisms with defense mechanisms. And we will be engaging in moderately-strenuous hikes under summer weather conditions. Any student who knowingly or recklessly endangers anyone's safety, or who repeatedly violates safety rules will be expelled from the class and possibly face further disciplinary actions at the instructor's discretion. If you observe any activity or situation that you think might be unsafe, please talk to the instructor about it.

In the event of an emergency that requires the evacuation of the room, we will exit the building and regroup outside for roll call and further instructions. Be careful to avoid traffic lanes. Do not leave campus until you have been instructed to do so by your instructor or by emergency personnel!

In case of emergency on campus, call 911 on a land line, or (408) 924-8000 on a cell phone.

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Lab / Field / Virtual Lab Simulation Reports

    • Several group exercises demonstrating ecological principles and methods. 

    • Weekly SimUText/SimBio® EcoBeaker® & EvoBeaker® Virtual Lab simulations/tutorials. Simulations are generally introduced in class on Monday afternoons, and then due completed by the following Wednesday morning before class.

      (As part of our use agreement with SimUText, students not purchasing the software will not receive credit for the simulation exercise reports!)

    • Two field notebook evaluations.

Species Quizzes

Identification of specimens or pictures of plants and animals selected from our lab & field activities.

    • Plants.

    • Birds

Lecture Exams

There are three exams based upon material covered in lecture. (The final exam is Exam 3.) These exams are non-cumulative and will be composed of multiple choice and matching questions and diagram interpretations. A new (clean and unwrinkled) Scantron Form # 882-E (green) answer sheet and a #2 pencil will be needed for each lecture exam.

    • Please note the dates of all exams. If you are sick or have an emergency, contact me BEFORE the exam and special arrangements might be made in extenuating circumstances. Vacation plans are not extenuating circumstances! If a last-minute crisis occurred on the way to the exam, contact me before the end of the day.

Research Project

An independently conceived and conducted ecological research project implemented by a team of four students.


Lab/Field/Simulation Reports: Cumulative % score of all reports counts 200 points. 

Species Quizzes: Each species quiz counts 30 points. Two quizzes = 60 points.

Lecture Exams: Three exams. Each exam counts 100 points. (3 x 100 = 300 points)

Research Project: Each student shall receive a percentage of the total score based upon their contribution and participation to all parts.

    • prospectus: literature search, proposed hypotheses & experimental design = 30 points

    • technique & data analysis = 50 points

    • final project presentation = 50 points

    • individual peer evaluation = 10 points

  • Total project score = 140 points

The final class grade will be determined as a percentage of the maximum total 700 points:

92-100% = A

89-91% = A-

86-88% = B+

80-85% = B

77-79% = B-

74-76% = C+

65-73% = C

53-64% = D

<53% = F

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