All course information is listed within this syllabus.

EMGT 810: Ecosystem Monitoring (3 credits). This course provides students with an overview of ecosystem monitoring methods and analyses. Students completing the course will have the ability to apply a quantitative approach to the monitoring of ecosystems. Students will learn about monitoring planning, various sampling designs, and specific measurement methods used to accomplish monitoring objectives associated with ecosystem management. Students will be able to apply specific sampling, measurement, and data analysis methods for monitoring vegetation, wildlife, water quantity and quality, and soils, and they will have a statistical foundation for evaluating the various types of data that are collected. Specifically, students will be able to calculate reliability measures, trends, and indicators of ecosystem change, and apply hypothesis testing to these measures to determine their statistical significance. Specific sampling designs will be presented, such as simple random sampling, stratified random sampling, systematic sampling, and cluster sampling.

Prerequisite: STAT 500

Instructor

Instructor for EMGT 810

Marc McDill
Associate Professor of Forest Management

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
310 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Office Phone: 814-865-1602
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Research Interests

Forest management, forest management planning, forest inventory, deer-forest interactions, oak regeneration

Course Overview

This course provides students with an overview of ecosystem monitoring methods and analyses.

Course Objectives

After successfully completing this course, a student will be able to:

  • describe the role of sampling, measurement, and monitoring in making natural resource management decisions
  • describe a variety of quantitative approaches to sampling and monitoring
  • apply fundamental statistical principles and common sampling designs to design and implement an ecosystem monitoring plan
  • describe various measurement, sampling, and monitoring approaches for different natural resources, including vegetation, water quantity and quality, soils, and wildlife

Course Outline

Module 1: Designing a Monitoring Program

  • Introduction / Why Monitor Ecosystems
  • Planning a Monitoring Program
    • Design Steps
    • Basic Techniques

Module 2: Assessing the Precision of Information with Statistics

  • Sampling distributions, estimation and measures of reliability
    • Populations, Samples, sampling distributions
    • Estimation, standard errors and confidence intervals
  • Hypothesis Testing and Change Detection

Module 3: Sampling Design

  • Simple Random Sampling
  • Stratified Random Sampling
  • Other designs (Systematic; Cluster)

Module 4: Vegetation Monitoring and Sampling

  • Sampling for presence/absence of vegetative taxa of varying frequencies and sizes and quantifying the abundance and size of vegetation
  • Sampling for trends in presence/absence, abundance, size and demographics of vegetation

Module 5: Water Quantity Monitoring

  • Methodology
  • Analysis

Module 6: Water Quality Monitoring and Sampling

  • Collection Methodology
  • Analytical Methodology
  • Interpretation

Module 7: Monitoring Wildlife

  • Estimating Probability of Detection
  • Special Techniques for Monitoring Wildlife

Module 8: Soil Sampling and Monitoring

  • Collection Methodology
  • Analytical Methodology

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Most World Campus courses require that students purchase materials (e.g., textbooks, specific software, etc.). To learn about how to order materials, please see the Course Materials page. You should check the World Campus Course Catalog approximately 3–4 weeks before the course begins for a list of required materials.

Required

Elzinga, C. L., Salzer, D. W., & Willoughby, J. W. (1998). Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

(This textbook will be provided for free within library reserves.)

Or

ISBN: 978-0632044429
Elzinga, C. L., Salzer, D. W., Willoughby, J. W., & Gibbs, J. P. (2001). Monitoring Plant and Animal Populations. Wiley-Blackwell.

For pricing and ordering information, please see the Barnes & Noble College website.

Materials will be available at Barnes & Noble College approximately three weeks before the course begins. It is very important that you purchase the correct materials. If your course requires one or more textbooks, you must have exactly the correct text required (edition and year).

E-Reserves

This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. You can access these materials by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, or by accessing the Library E-Reserves Search and searching for your instructor's last name.

Assignments

Course assignments include calculation exercises and writing assignments (e.g., writing a monitoring plan for an ecosystem resource of your choosing).

There will be quizzes upon completion of modules. Students also take two synthesis quizzes (similar to exams)—one at the end of Module 4 and one at the end of Module 8.

Final Exam

There is no final exam.

Late Submission Policy

Students are responsible for any of their missed work. The instructor will not inform students of any missed work. Each module builds upon one another and the time frame of each one is planned to be two weeks. Assignments can be submitted at any time during this time period, but will not be accepted for full credit after the date and time indicated. To ensure a reasonable turnaround time of approximately 1 week, you must submit on-time. For weekly contributions to discussions, quizzes, and the final project, no credit will be given if submitted after the due date.

For the weekly reading assignments and peer review, if the deadline is missed, you can achieve up to 50% credit by turning in prior to the next quiz. After that quiz date, no credit will be awarded.

Grading Policy

Grading Criteria
Requirement Weight
Within-Module Exercises 25%
Monitoring Plan (1) 10%
Module Quizzes (7) 35%
Synthesis Quizzes (2) 30%
TOTAL: 100%
Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the Internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the Internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the Internet.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas.

Netiquette

The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

If you experience technology problems of any kind in Canvas, please select the Help icon and select "Report a Canvas Problem," "Chat with Support," or "Call Support." It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance. Try to include information such as: the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Penn State Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to-date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class for each semester and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures and the Code of Conduct).

Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias webpage.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their web privacy statement. Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff webpage for information regarding its rules on governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 814-863-0395
  • Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
  • Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741
  • Mental Health Services

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.