This syllabus has been modified from the original.

EEOB 370—Extinction

Exploration of the causes of, and possible solutions to, the present-day global extinction event.
Winter 2010 Prerequisites: 5 credit hours of biological science coursework.
Meets T-TH 3:30-4:48 Pomerene 306


Dr. John Cooley 414 Aronoff 614-292-0126
Office Hours: W 1-3 PM or by appointment


Amy McKinney 356 Aronoff 614-292-9373
Office Hours: Tu 1-3 PM or by appointment

Course outline

Extinction is a topic we hear about in the news—for example, gloomy statistics about how the rate of extinction due to tropical deforestation exceeds several extinctions per hour. What does this mean? Is this cause for concern?
This course will be an exploration of the topic of extinction from several perspectives. We’ll start by exploring European colonization of North America, and how sudden and significant changes to the North American biota forced the issue of extinction into the forefront. We’ll look at the rise of the conservation movement in the early 20th century, and early efforts to counteract extinctions. Then, we’ll step back and do something that 19th and early 20th century conservationists could not have done—we’ll look at the nature of species, species formation, the generation of biodiversity, and the elimination of biodiversity from a scientific perspective, and consider how our thinking about extinction has changed from an esthetic concern to a scientific endeavor. At the end, we’ll try to bring it all together and ask whether our efforts are likely to be any more or less successful, or more or less misguided, than the efforts of the early conservationists.
This course will have several written assignments (see Course Schedule), a midterm, final, and a final group project presentation. The first assignment will be assigned on January 7 and due on January 14, so don’t miss the early classes!
Scheduled class meetings will involve participatory quasi-lectures, seminar-style discussions, break-out groups, etc.
During the early portion of the course, we will rely primarily on the quasi-lecture mode. However, as the class gains a general level of proficiency, we will explore some topics through alternative approaches (listed above). It is important that you come to class prepared!

Lecture Topics/Course Schedule

Lecture topics, readings, and course schedule are detailed in a separate document titled “Course Schedule.” Be aware that the schedule may change over the course of the quarter.

This Syllabus

Since we’ll be talking about carbon footprints later in the quarter, please don’t print out this syllabus or the various PDF readings—they will remain on Carmen throughout the quarter. If you must print something out, then just print out the course schedule (see above).

Course textbooks

Most of the readings will be from primary scientific literature or other sources and will be provided as PDF documents on Carmen. Some useful books have been placed in the Course Reserves section of Thompson Library.
There are also two books from which readings will be assigned, and which you will find helpful for doing background reading. I’m arranging for them to be stocked in the bookstore, but you are welcome to purchase them anywhere.
(Raup 1991) is an older book, and it points a somewhat rosy view of the current state of scientific consensus concerning extinction. However, it’s still a valuable book, and it is broken down into small units that provide good background material.
(Ward 2007) is a recent book discussing global warming. It’s a popular account of the topic- that is, it is not primary scientific literature, but it is readable, and gives some indication of the complexity of the topic of extinction. It presents a good model for hypothesis-driven research (p. 4), and it also offers some pointed criticisms of (Raup 1991).
Finally, (Wilson 1988) is a highly recommended edited volume. Although it’s not stocked in the bookstore, you should be able to find inexpensive, used copies. Copies are also placed on reserve in Thompson Library. This is an older source, but it’s a good jumping off point for the literature, and you can make use of the library skills you’ll learn to find more up-to-date literature on the topics covered in this book.
For most lectures, additional, optional readings are listed (for instance, all readings in (Wilson 1988) are optional). These readings are not required, but they may help you understand background materials or alternative viewpoints, and they may give you an entry point for literature searches.
Complete citations are included in the separate document “EEOB 370 Bibliography.” This document is not a list of required readings for the course; rather, it is intended as a resource to help you in your library searches.

Grading and assignments

Assignments are listed below and on the Course Schedule; there is generally something due each week of the quarter. Grades will be based on the following scheme. Final grades may be adjusted based on relative performance, but students with a composite score equaling or exceeding 90%, 80%, or 70% can expect to receive a grade no lower than A-, B-, or C-, respectively.

Assignment Due Point Value
Survey 12 January 5
5 Paragraph Essay 14 January15
Peer Review 21 January10
Library Search 16 February10
SPAR Assignment 4 February25
Midterm Exam 11 February100
Presentation Prospectus 16 February25
Carbon Footprint Assignment 25 February25
Bushmeat Assignment 2 March25
Student Presentations 9 March50
Final Exam 17 March100
Class Participation 10
Total 400

Grades will be based on exams, assignments and in-class discussions. Exams may include any or all of the following: Assessment of extinction rates/risks, population growth rates, written critique of primary literature, analysis/interpretation of extinction risk, peer review, etc.. Exam questions will be in a variety of formats.
“Class Participation” refers to meaningful participation in all in-class activities and may include written preparation for in-class discussions. Consistent preparation and active participation are expected.
Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date noted on the class schedule. Unless there is prior arrangement, assignments turned in late will lose 10% of their point value for each day late, to a maximum of 50%. The due dates are designed to give us the chance (with a little luck) to get assignments graded and back to you with plenty of time for you to review your grades. We cannot guarantee our ability to grade and return late assignments quickly (even if you have made special arrangements).
If you wish to submit a grade appeal, you must do so in writing no later than one week after your graded work is returned to you. Please feel free to use (and cite) supporting details from the course readings or other legitimate sources in your appeal—it will help us work through your appeal quickly.

Scheduling Conflicts

If you have a scheduling conflict that makes it difficult for you to complete an assignment on time, please discuss it with us as soon as you become aware of the conflict.


This course allows and encourages several avenues of communication with your instructors and your peers. We encourage in-class participation, as well as participation on the class discussion group in Carmen. We also encourage the use of email for communication with your instructors and TAs. However, you should be aware that while we will attempt to answer electronic communications in a timely fashion, pressing questions emailed after business hours the day before an exam/assignment due date may or may not receive a response before the next class meeting. Likewise, emails sent after close of business on Friday may not receive a response until the following Monday. Furthermore, certain questions/concerns may be inappropriate or too complicated to answer by email. In such cases, we reserve the right to request that you make an appointment to discuss these matters with an instructor face-to-face. In all communications with instructors and peers, you are expected to exercise common courtesy.


The instructors embrace the university‘s mission regarding diversity (visit the Dept. of EEOB’s Diversity website to learn more: We are committed to the goals of creating a welcoming climate for all students and promoting a shared, inclusive understanding of diversity. If you have any concerns about diversity-related issues, you should feel free report your concerns to:

Special Needs

We will gladly attempt to accommodate any student who may have special needs or concerns. Any student who may need an accommodation should contact the instructors to discuss specific needs. For support services, please contact the Office for Disability Services (292-3307), 150 Pomerene Hall.

Academic Integrity

The Ohio State University‘s Code of Student Conduct (Section 3335-23-04) defines academic misconduct as “Any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the University, or subvert the educational process.” Examples of academic misconduct include (but are not limited to) plagiarism, collusion (unauthorized collaboration), copying the work of another student, and possession of unauthorized materials during an examination. Ignorance of the University’s Code of Student Conduct is never considered an excuse for academic misconduct.
If we suspect that a student has committed academic misconduct in this course, we are obligated by University Rules to report our suspicions to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. If COAM determines that you have violated the University‘s Code of Student Conduct, the sanctions for the misconduct could include a failing grade in this course and suspension or dismissal from the University.
You will find that this course offers ample opportunity for collaboration and that joint efforts will often be encouraged. However, certain assignments will require that you do your OWN work. If you have any question as to whether your level of cooperation with your peers or the similarity of your work to that of others is acceptable, you must contact an instructor to discuss the matter before handing in the assignment.

Course Schedule

Day Date Topic Required Readings Assignment Assignment Due Additional Readings
Tuesday 5 The rise of the modern conservation movement Raup Chs. 1, 2 Survey
Thursday 7 The Sociology of this course, and of conservation Lyons 2009, Pfeiffer and Nowak 2006 5 paragraph essay Hardin 1968, Milinski et al. 2006, Knapp 1910
Tuesday 12 Historical Extinctions Raup Chs. 4, 5, 10; Ward Ch. 2 Survey Due WWF 2008, Raup 1988
Thursday 14 Populations Raup Ch. 3; Cohen 2003 Peer Review 5 Paragraph Essay Meffe et al. 1993, Gotelli 2008 Chs. 1, 2
Tuesday 19 Library Orientation… Meets in Thompson Library 149, 150. Library Search
Thursday 21 Species Raup Ch. 1, Handout Peer Review Due
Tuesday 26 Ecology Raup Chs. 6, 7 Slobodkin 2000, Redding and Moores 2006, Morris and Doake Chs. 2, 3
Thursday 28 Species-Area Relationships Brooks et al. 1999 SPAR assignment Gotelli 2008 Ch. 7
Tuesday 2 Biodiversity Jenkins 2003, Naeem et al. 1999, Naeem 2000, Wardle et al. 2000 Presentation prospectus Diaz et al. 2006, Fargione and Tilman 2005, Loreau et al. 2001, Pfisterer and Schmid, Naeem 2002, Ehrlich 1988, Raven 1988
Thursday 4 Metapopulations Saccheri et al. 1998 Gotelli 2008 Ch. 4
Tuesday 9 Hotspots Ceballos and Ehrlich 2006, Sechrest et al. 2002 SPAR assignment due Spathelf and Waite 2007
Thursday 11 Midterm Carbon Footprint
Tuesday 16 Economics and Bushmeat Cowlishaw et al. 2005, Rowcliffe et al. 2005 Bushmeat Assignment Presentation prospectus due, library search/annotated bibliography due
Thursday 18 Economics and fish. Avoiding situations where PowerPoint becomes a Sleep Aid. Myers 1998, Tufte (link)
Tuesday 23 Restoration Grenyer et al. 2006 Taylor 1995, Brook et al. 2000, Conway 1988, Cade 1988, Seal 1988, Jordan 1988, Zedler 1988, Uhl 1988, Todd 1988
Thursday 25 Climate Change Williams et al. 2007, Botkin et al. 2007 Carbon Footprint assignment due Midgley et al. 2002, Malcolm et al. 2006, Pounds et al. 2006, Waite and Strickland 2006, Raup Chs. 8-10, Ward Chs. 8,9, Peters 1988
Tuesday 2 Sustainability Milinski 2006, Gross 2006 Bushmeat assignment due Balmford et al 2002, Underwood et al 2008, Hanemanm 1988, Norton 1988, Norgaard 1988, Ehrenfeld 1988, Randall 1988.
Thursday 4 Deep Ecology Raup Ch. 11, Nations 1988
Tuesday 9 Student group presentations Student presentations due
Thursday 11 Student group presentations Take-Home Final Exam
Wednesday 17 Take Home Final Exam Due 3:30 PM Take Home Final Exam Due 3:30 PM