Course Information and Sample Syllabus


Course meets in lecture twice weekly (Tuesday-Thursday 11:00-12:15), lab once weekly (Thursday 1:00-4:00).


class photo


Instructor and contact information:

Emily Stanley




Goals for a Zoology Major:

The Zoology major should have a capacity for critical thinking and conceptual skills that allow understanding of biological complexity and the inter-relationship of humans and natural systems.  Students should appreciate the diversity of life, having a basic understanding of genetic, cellular, physiological, ecological and evolutionary principles and a solid foundation in related disciplines of chemistry, physics, and mathematics.  Students should understand how scientific information is obtained and evaluated and understand its application to societal issues.


Goals of this course:

By the end of the class, you should:

-have an understanding of physical, chemical, and biological processes of streams and rivers and field and laboratory methods commonly used by stream ecologists

-acquire skills to conduct, and analyze scientific methods and data relevant to stream and river ecology


Students taking this course:

            -Junior or senior-level undergraduates and graduate students

-All students must have taken Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 103, 104 or equivalent), Limnology (ZOO 315 or equivalent) or have specific permission from Emily Stanley to enroll.  General Ecology (ZOO 460 or equivalent) is strongly recommended.



Laboratory exercises are designed to complement lectures and provide hands-on application of concepts, calculations, and methods used in stream and river ecology.  Because of normal winter weather, exercises at the beginning of the semester will focus on data analysis and laboratory-based methods.  Later in the semester, field methods will be emphasized during trips to local streams. 


Field trips:

There are four scheduled field trips.  Two will occur during the normal class-lab period, and the other two are required weekend field trips. These will be all-day excursions to streams in and around Dane County.  Tentatively, we will depart at 9:00 and return no later than 5:00 p.m.  If you have a pre-existing commitment and are unable to participate in one or both of these trips, please notify the instructor


Text and Readings:

There is no required text for this class.  The following texts are highly relevant will be put on reserve at the Biology Library in Birge Hall:


Allan, J.D. and M.M. Castillo2007. Stream ecology: structure and function of running waters. 2nd edition. Springer, Dordrecht.


Gordon, N.D., T.A. McMahon, B.L. Finlayson, C.J. Gippel, and R.J. Nathan. 2004. Stream hydrology: an introduction for ecologists. 2nd edition. J. Wiley and Sons, Chichester.


Hauer, F.R. and G.A. Lamberti. 2006. Methods in stream ecology. 2nd edition. Academic Press, San Diego.


Selective reading materials may be assigned during the semester; these materials will either be made available as pdf files through the class web page or passed out in class.  Lab materials will posted on the Laboratory Schedule section of the syllabus. 


Exams, Assignments, AND GRADING:

The grading philosophy in this course is to provide multiple opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the materials instead of putting lots of emphasis on a few tests.  Operationally, this translates into multiple tests, each of which covers 5-6 lectures, laboratory exercises, 1-2 in-class exercises, and occasional opportunities for supplemental credit.

Required assignments and their percent contribution to the final grade are:

-Exams (60% total; 10%, 15%, 15%, 20%)

-Laboratory exercises (30%)

-In-class exercises (5%)

-General participation (5%)




sampLE LECTURE Schedule




Hydrology I

Hydrology II

Geomorphology I- basin analysis

Geomorphology II- river forms and processes

The physicochemical environment I

The physicochemical environment II


Stream biota I- who, what, where and challenges and solutions to life in moving fluids

Biotic interactions I- community structure and species diversity 

Biotic interactions II- functional feeding groups and food webs

Biotic interactions III- competition and grazing

Biotic interactions IV- drift and predation

Energy flow I- stream metabolism

Energy flow II- energy budgets



The River Continuum excitement

Field trip preparation

Field trip 1

Nutrients I- Basic cycles and patterns

The hyporheic zone- nutrients and more

Nutrients II- Nutrient spiraling I

Nutrients III- Nutrient spiraling II

Expanded horizons II- floodplains


Field trip 2- Boulder Creek

Expanded horizons III- riparian zones

Expanded horizons IV- land use and watersheds

Conservation and management I

Conservation and management II

Conservation and management III




SAMPLE Laboratory Schedule

Laboratory exercises, assignments, and point values/assignment are described in the laboratory exercises.             


Acquisition and analysis of discharge data

Analyzing watershed and channel attributes

Exam 1- no lab

Stream biota- identification of major groups- I

Stream biota

Instantaneous organic matter budget

Exam 2- Exercise 5 follow-up: OM analysis (as needed)

Spring Break

Field trip preparation

Field trip I- Methods for stream characterization: hydrology, geomorphology, habitat

Nutrients- SRP and sediment-P relationships

Field trip preparation

Exam 3- no lab 

Field trip II Ecosystem parts and processes

Exercise 8 follow-up: analysis of samples

No lab

Review and pizza