Fall 2003

SCIE 613
Biology of Birds


09/08/2003 - 12/13/2003
Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Science Tower 137

Special Schedule: One-week immersion, August 8-12 (Monday-Friday) 7:00 am to 3:00 pm

Why study birds? Part of the appeal of birds lies in their color and beauty, interesting behavior, and impressive flight abilities. Bird study can provide an excellent education in many broadly applicable ecological principles. An interest in birds yields almost unlimited opportunities for discovery wherever one might be. For many non-biologists, watching birds is an important way to renew one's connection with the natural world.

This course goes into avian biology with considerable depth, but discussions are geared toward students with little or no training in biology. The major topics to be covered include evolution, biogeography, ecology, behavior, flight, migration, sensory abilities, basic anatomy and physiology, reproduction, research techniques, and conservation. Some of the specific questions to be investigated include: What does the fossil record tells us about the evolutionary origin of birds? Are birds really feathered dinosaurs? What do geographic patterns of avian diversity tell us about the history and future of birds? What changes in basic quadruped form and function have occurred in conjunction with the evolution of flight? How do birds cope with the environmental extremes of deserts and polar environments? What roles do vision, hearing, olfaction, and geomagnetic sensitivity play in the different aspects of a bird's life? How and why do birds sing? How flexible is bird behavior? What are the relationships among feeding ecology, reproductive behavior, and migration? Certain bird species appear to be declining in abundance, even in intact habitats. Why? What is the evidence? How do biological characteristics of birds help or hinder conservation efforts?

Geoffrey Hammerson (B.S. University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder) is a research zoologist at NatureServe and is author of more than 70 reports and publications, most recently, The conservation status of the world's reptiles (Biological Conservation, 2013, with M. Bohm et al.) and Rapid assessment of plant and animal vulnerability to climate change (in Wildlife Conservation in a Changing Climate (University of Chicago Press, 2012, with Young et al.) Click here to read an article about Geoff and his GLS courses.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Field Studies

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 19

Texts to purchase for this course:

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