Landscape Ecology (BIOL 4330) & Advanced Landscape Ecology (BIOL 5330) - Fall 2015


Lecture on Tu 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Biology 106

Lab on Th 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Biology 405 (controlled-access computer lab)

Dr. Nancy E. McIntyre
Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University

420 Biology Bldg.

Office hours: call (806-834-7977) or email ( to set up an appointment

Landscape ecology is the study of the effect of spatial patterns on ecological processes and how those processes in turn create environmental patterns. This field represents a new awareness among ecologists that spatial patterning can no longer be ignored nor environments assumed to be homogeneous for logistical convenience; rather, spatial patterning is now recognized to be a dynamic force in ecology and not just a statistical nuisance. Fundamental principles of landscape ecology serve as foundations for decision-making and problem-solving in conservation biology, natural resource management, and other sustainability endeavors. 

"The emergence of landscape ecology as a discipline has catalyzed a shift in paradigms among ecologists…Having now seen the faces of spatial pattern and scale…we can never go back to the old ways of viewing things."

(John Wiens, 1999)

Expected learning outcomes: Upon successful completion of course requirements, students will be able to quantify spatial heterogeneity and its effects on biological processes affecting individuals, populations, and communities (including dispersal, risk of extinction, and diversity), and to discuss why such skills are necessary to conservation and natural resource management (e.g. in terms of reserve design and placement).  There will be a weekly computer lab session, where students will conduct hands-on exercises; after successfully completing this class, students will be able to perform the most common methods of data analysis used in landscape ecology, including neutral landscape modeling and spatial statistics such as semivariance and autocorrelation analyses, using software packages that are standards in the field, such as Fragstats, ArcMap, and QRULE

Methods for assessing learning outcomes: (1) student performance on lecture exams, (2) student performance on weekly lab exercises, (3) student performance on cumulative lab exam, (4) student performance on cumulative lecture final exam, (5) student questions and participation in in-class discussions, (6) graduate students only: evaluation of the primary literature based on discussions and targeted test questions on every lecture exam


Topics to be covered, assignments, and dates – updated 21 August 2015


10% on exam 1
10% on exam 2

10% on exam 3
30% on cumulative final lecture exam

40% on lab (details below)

I make heavy use of essay questions to gauge your mastery of the concepts presented.  Your mastery should demonstrate factual knowledge as well as the ability to synthesize different topics.  Please consult this guide for examples of A, B, C, D, and F answers to a sample essay question in landscape ecology.



Lab T.A.: Lucas Heintzman, 424 Biology Bldg.,


From its origins, landscape ecology has had a strongly quantitative focus, and so we have a lab portion to this course.  In lab, students will learn how to measure spatial heterogeneity and analyze its effects on plants, animals, and humans.  Students will work through exercises to gain first-hand proficiency with the questions asked in landscape ecology and the methods used to answer those questions.  The lab for this course is designed to minimize overlap with other courses on campus that deal exclusively with aerial photo interpretation, remote sensing, and GIS (which require separate courses to truly learn and master—there are courses in Natural Resources Management and Geosciences that cover these topics).  Instead, this course’s lab will focus on spatial statistics, an important way of quantifying and analyzing landscape patterns.  Lab will also deal with techniques and software that are used primarily or exclusively by landscape ecologists (including neutral landscape modeling and pattern quantification).


Lab will be held in Biology 405.  Access to that room is via a key code, which will be given out in class.  Absolutely NO food or drinks of ANY kind (including water) are allowed in this room.  


Lab counts for 40% of your total course grade.  The lab grade is composed of the following:

            75% on laboratory exercises and worksheets (due weekly) - always show all work!

            25% on cumulative final lab exam


Things needed for lab:

·         A 1GB (minimum size) flash drive and/or access to a cloud-based storage service (e.g. Dropbox, BOX, SpiderOak, etc.)

·         Calculator

·         Ruler (metric)


Requirements for graduate students (BIOL 5330):  Grad students will be expected to exhibit a thorough and synthetic mastery of the subject, including materials from the primary literature.  Here is a list of papers about which you may expect in-class discussion questions and exam questions (available either online or as PDF files - click on links below).  When you read the assigned discussion papers, this should not simply be a passive exercise.  Instead, you must make it active, which will cement your learning.  To be an active reader, you must have your computer or paper and pencil at hand, to jot down notes, questions that come to your mind, and so forth.  For each paper, you should be identifying the following:

1.      What is the main point of the paper?

2.      What study organisms were examined?

3.      Where was the study located?

4.       Were any specialized terms used?  What do they mean?  (Use a dictionary if you don't know them.)

5.      What kind of study was performed: An experiment?  In lab or field or both?  Were there adequate controls, replication, and randomization?  Or was there no experiment, “just” observation?

6.      How strong was the evidence presented?  Was it presented as words, graphs, tables, or some other format?  Did it convince you of the author’s claims?  What would you do differently to make a more convincing case?


For exam 1:


Flather, C.H, and J.R. Sauer. 1996. Using landscape ecology to test hypotheses about large-scale abundance patterns in migratory birds. Ecology 77:28-35.


Turner, M.G. 1989. Landscape ecology: the effect of pattern on process. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 20:171-197.


Turner, M.G.  2005.  Landscape ecology: What is the state of the science?  Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 36:319-344.


Wiens, J.A. 1989. Spatial scaling in ecology. Functional Ecology 3:385-397.


Wiens, J.A. 1992. What is landscape ecology, really? Landscape Ecology 7:149-150.


For exam 2:


Fahrig, L. 2003. Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 34:487-515.


Laiolo, P., and J.L. Tella. 2007. Erosion of animal cultures in fragmented landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5:68-72.


Saunders, D.A., R.J. Hobbs, and C.R. Margules.  1991.  Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: A review.  Conservation Biology 5:18-32.


Tewksbury, J.J., D.J. Levey, N.M. Haddad, S. Sargent, J.L. Orrock, A. Weldon, B.J. Danielson, J. Brinkerhoff, E.I. Damschen, and P. Townsend. 2002. Corridors affect plants, animals, and their interactions in fragmented landscapes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99:12923-12926.


Zimmerman, J.K., T.M. Aide, M. Rosario, M. Serrano, and L. Herrera. 1995. Effects of land management and a recent hurricane on forest structure and composition in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico.  Forest Ecology and Management 77:65-76.


For exam 3:


With, K.A., and A.W. King. 1997. The use and misuse of neutral landscape models in ecology. Oikos 79:219-229.


For final exam:


All of the above, plus:


Franklin, J.F. 1993. Preserving biodiversity: species, ecosystems, or landscapes? Ecological Applications 3:202-205.


Hobbs, R.J. 1997. Future landscapes and the future of landscape ecology. Landscape and Urban Planning 37:1-9.


Holderegger, R., and H.H. Wagner. 2008. Landscape genetics. BioScience 58:199-207.


Quammen, D. 1994. The Newmark warning: Why our National Parks are resembling desert isles. Pp. 81-88 in: Northern Lights (D. Clow and D. Snow, eds.). Vintage Books, New York, NY.


Academic honesty:  Any attempt by a student to present as their own work any work not honestly performed is regarded as a serious offense and renders offenders liable to consequences, including a failing grade on the assignment, failure of the course, and possible suspension from the university.  Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, falsifying academic records, misrepresenting facts, and any act designed to give an unfair academic advantage to a student.  A detailed list may be found in the Student Handbook.


Absences and missed assignments:  Because there is a causal relationship between attendance and performance, I do take note of attendance, and I encourage everyone to read this poem on attendance by Tom Wayman.  Make-up assignments will be given only in the event of a satisfactory, written excuse (e.g. doctor’s note or TTU-sanctioned absence).

Religious observances:  A student who is absent for the observation of a religious holy day shall be allow to take an exam or complete an in‑class assignment scheduled for that day within a reasonable time after the absence if, not later than the 15th day after the 1st day of the semester, the student has notified me of each scheduled class during a holy day that the student would be absent.

Students with disabilities:  Any student who, because of a disability, may require special arrangements in order to meet the course requirements should contact me as soon as possible to make any necessary arrangements.  Students should present appropriate verification from Student Disability Services.  Please note that instructors are not allowed to provide accommodations to a student until appropriate verification from Student Disability Services has been provided.  For additional information, contact the Student Disability Services office at 335 West Hall or at 806-742-2405.

Important notes: 

1.  Good note-taking during class and lab are the keys to success in this course; the course note outlines provided online are NOT substitutions for attending class and taking notes of your own while there. 

2.  All electronic devices must be turned off and newspapers put away during class time. 

3.  Questions on the weekly lab homeworks will not be answered the day of lab (i.e., the due date).

4.  Weekly lab homeworks will not be accepted by email; hardcopies must be turned in at the start of lab.



Some relevant links:


U.S. Chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE)


Landscape Ecology (journal)


Key papers from the early years of Landscape Ecology (1987-1997)



Relevant (and recommended) books at the Main Library:


QH541.15.L35T87 - Turner, M.G., R.H. Gardner, and R.V. O’Neill.  2001.  Landscape Ecology in Theory and Practice: Pattern and Process.  Springer-Verlag, New York, NY. 


QH541.15.L35F68 - Wiens, J.A., M.R. Moss, M.G. Turner, and D.J. Mladenoff.  2006.  Foundation Papers in Landscape Ecology.  Columbia Univ. Press, New York, NY.


SB472.3.D73 - Dramsted, W.E., J.D. Olson, and R.T.T. Forman.  1996.  Landscape Ecology Principles in Landscape Architecture and Land-use Planning.  Island Press, Washington, D.C. 


QH541.F67     Forman, R.T.T., and M. Godron.  1986.  Landscape Ecology.  Wiley, New York, NY. 


QH541.15.L35L33 - Klopatek, J.M., and R.H. Gardner, eds.  1999.  Landscape Ecological Analysis: Issues and Applications.  Springer-Verlag, New York, NY. 


QH75.N3594 - Naveh, Z., and A.S. Lieberman.  1990.  Landscape Ecology: Theory and Application.  Springer-Verlag, New York, NY. 


QH541.15.L35L335 - Sanderson, J., and L.D. Harris, eds.  2000.  Landscape Ecology: A Top-down Approach.  Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 


QH541.5.L35Q36 - Turner, M.G., and R.H. Gardner, eds.  1991.  Quantitative Methods in Landscape Ecology.  Springer-Verlag, New York, NY.



Career links for jobs in landscape ecology and other environmental fields:


·         A Google search on "environmental consulting jobs" yields hits from companies searching for college graduates from the life sciences.  Also search on “clean energy jobs,” “sustainability jobs,” and “green jobs.”  Many big companies (Coca Cola, Starbucks, Target, etc.) hire ecologists as part of their sustainability divisions.


Last updated: 25 August 2015