Science & Technology
Course Code
BIOL 3305
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
A study of the interaction of living organisms with biotic and abiotic aspects of their environment. Population, community and ecosystem ecology are examined along with a consideration of topics in evolutionary ecology such as life history theory, mating systems and social behaviour. The course also investigates conservation of biological diversity and the impact of human activities on natural systems.
Course Content

1. Introduction to Ecology

  • The scientific method
  • Ecology and the levels of the biosphere
  • Ecology, evolution and adaptation

2. Biotic and abiotic aspects of the environment

  • The abiotic environment
  • The biotic environment
  • Terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems

3. Life history theory

  • The principal of allocation
  • Life-history trade-offs
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Senescence

4. Evolution of sexual reproduction

  • Sex ratios
  • Female choice and mating systems
  • Sexual selection

5. Social behaviour

  • Costs and benefits of social behaviours
  • Kin selection and altruism
  • Game theory and cooperative behaviour
  • Parent-offspring conflict and/or sexual conflict
  • Evolution of eusociality

6. Population ecology

  • Characteristics of populations
  • Estimation of population density
  • Exponential and logistic growth
  • Age structure and life tables
  • Density-dependent and -independent factors

7. Predation, parasitism and herbivory

  • Adaptations of predators (parasites, herbivores) and prey (hosts, plants)
  • Prey location, selection, capture and assimilation
  • Predator avoidance, escape and defence
  • Predator-prey population dynamics
  • Stabilizing mechanisms in two-species models

8. Competition

  • Interspecific and intraspecific competition
  • Competitive exclusion
  • Resource partitioning
  • Exploitation and interference competition
  • Logistic model and competition

9. Mutualism

  • Obligate vs. facultative mutualism
  • Effect on individual fitness
  • Effect on communities and ecosystems
  • Coevolution

10. Community ecology

  • Community structure
  • Food webs
  • Abundance-diversity indices
  • Ecological succession

11. Ecosystem ecology

  • Food chains and trophic levels
  • Food webs
  • Ecological efficiency
  • Nutrient cycling and regeneration
  • Biogeography and climate diagrams

12. Biological diversity

  • Global patterns of biological diversity
  • Landscape ecology
  • Species area-relationships
  • Island biogeography theory
  • Metapopulation theory
  • Conservation of biological diversity

13. Environmental issues and resource management

Topics may include:

  • Environmental impact assessments
  • Persistence and toxicity of pollutants
  • Integrated pest management
  • Toxic waste, acid rain, air pollution
  • Global warming

14. Ecological field and lab techniques

  • Design of manipulative field and lab experiments
  • Habitat characterization (e.g. stream, forest, meadow, salt marsh)
  • Plant/animal identification
    Techniques may include:
  • Quadrat/point quarter sampling
  • Transect sampling
  • Random/systematic sampling
Learning Activities

The methods of instruction for this course include some or all of the following: lectures, tutorials, laboratory activity, field trips, and textbook and scientific journal readings.  

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy.  The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.  Evaluation will be based on the following:

Class Tests & Assignments 10-20%
Lab & Field Trip Reports 10-20%
Term Project 10-20%
Midterm Examination 20-30%
Final Examination 20-35%
Total 100%

Note: A student who achieves less than 50% in either the lecture or laboratory portion of the course will earn a maximum P grade.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the successful student wil be able to:

  1. Characterize and distinguish biotic and abiotic components of terrestrial, marine and fresh water environments.
  2. Employ an evolutionary ecology approach to analyze life histories, sexual reproduction, sex ratios, mate choice, and social and altruistic behaviour.
  3. Describe population structures and growth, and identify the factors that limit the distribution and abundance of populations.
  4. Describe community structure and the dynamics of community organization and change including the process of ecological succession.
  5. Illustrate the flow of energy through ecosystems with reference to trophic levels and ecological efficiency.
  6. Illustrate the cycling of nutrients through ecosystems, then compare and contrast ecosystem energy flow with nutrient flow.
  7. Compare and contrast the effects of competition, predation, and mutualism on individual life histories and behaviour, population growth, community structure and ecosystem function.
  8. Analyze human impacts on ecosystems using the general principles of ecology.
  9. Describe the principles of field sampling and conduct field research using a variety of sampling techniques.
  10. Interpret field results, perform simple statistics and write reports.
  11. Research an ecological topic and communicate the results in a written report, oral presentation and/or poster.
Textbook Materials

Consult the Douglas College Bookstore for the latest required textbooks and materials. Example textbooks and materials may include:

Relyea, R and Ricklefs, R.E. The Economy of Nature, current edition. W.H. Freeman and Company Publishers, New York, NY, USA.


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for BIOL 3305
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO BIOL 228 (4)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU BIOL 2322 (4)
Langara College (LANG) LANG BIOL 2480 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU BISC 204 (3) & SFU BISC 2XX (2)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) DOUG BIOL 3305 (5) & DOUG BIOL 3610 (5) = SFU BISC 204 (3) & SFU BISC 2XX (1) & SFU BISC 306 (4)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU BIOL 2170 (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO BIOL 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV BIOL 230 (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC BIOL 201 (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV BIO 210 (4)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC BIOL 215 (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU BIOL 202 (3)

Course Offerings

Winter 2023