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Mammals of the Pacific Northwest Biology 140

BIOL 140

Explanation of Assignments 

1)       Field Log—45  Points: (10 points for check one, 20 for check two and 15 for check three). 

 You will be required to keep a Field Log of all wild Northwest mammal species that you encounter during the quarter.  Since wild mammals are often elusive, it will take some extra effort on your part to actively seek some species out.  You will need to go on a few field trips of your own (i.e. short hikes and drives) to view mammals.  I will give you some suggestions throughout the quarter but you will need to take the initiative on your own too.  I suggest you carry your Field Guide (class text) and a pair of binoculars in your car with you outside of class time.  Although it can be disheartening, dead animals can give us good looks at native fauna.  You may record road kill or cat prey but captive mammals in zoos or aquariums don’t count.  You may also count signs of mammals such as droppings, tracks, nests, burrows, etc. as long as you can identify what mammal it belongs to with reasonable accuracy.  Keep in mind that many wild mammals struggle to survive and to avoid the stress of being seen by potential predators like humans.  Please don’t disturb, chase or attempt to catch or touch any mammal that you encounter whether it is dead or alive.  This is an “observation only” exercise.  I love to see the animals you have been fortunate enough to observe so if it is possible and safe, take a picture of your observations.

I will give a preliminary grade for your Field Logs.  The first Field Log check is in week three and is worth 10 points.   The final 35 points will be given when you hand in the Field Log at the last class period before finals week. 

Your field log must include the following information for each mammal encountered:


·         The log should not be typed—it’s a working document.

·         Latin name and common name of mammal (and page from our book)

·         Date and time seen.

·         Location (be specific; include city, county, in a house, on a trail etc.)

·         A picture is great

·         Weather conditions

·         Behavior of the mammal

·         Habitat description (brushy, deep forest, etc)

·         Discuss some aspect of the habitat.  Below are two possible discussion topics:

·         Share your reasoned opinion about this animal’s threats to survival.  For example, suppose you see a mouse in your barn.  You may write about a paragraph (it could be longer) describing his chance of eating something contaminated or the threat of a house cat.  I want you to view survival from the perspective of the mouse and comment on any threats with special attention to non-natural or anthropogenic threats. 

·         Share your reasoned opinion about this animal’s use of the habitat.  Might the animal be searching for food; seeking refuge; resting; en route somewhere, etc.  This may be part of your behavior notes.

·         NOTE: This section will be difficult early in the quarter (and I will excuse that) and you will become more proficient at assessing healthy habitat as the quarter goes on.

·         Identification notes: How did you identify it; what clues led you to decide which mammal it was?


Below are the requirements for getting a B for the different field log checks.

·         Field Log Check Number 1 is worth 10 points.

·         Four good entries will get you a B. To earn better than the B your entries must be excellent (pictures, good details, etc).  Alternatively, to earn better than a B you would need to have more entries.  Suppose a student found 7 mammals and 5 entries were excellent and earned that student the full 10 points.  I will "save" the remaining 2 entries for the next field log check.

·         Field Log Check 2 is worth 20 points.

·         Six  good entries (above those from check 1—meaning you may have 4 from check 1 and now 6 from check 2 for a total of 10) will get you a B (16-18 points). To earn better than the B your entries must be excellent (pictures, good details, etc).  Alternatively, to earn better than a B you would need to have more entries.

·         Field log check number 3 is worth 15 points

·         If you have 3 good entries, you will earn a B (16-18 points)

·        At the end of the term, if you have some good fortune and good effort you may find more than enough animals for an A.  In that case, I will give extra credit for entries with pictures that are in excess of what is necessary.

·         Any extra credit entries must have pictures because I want to reduce any temptation to fudge an entry.

·         Maximum EC points will be 5.

       Error Codes from Graded Field Logs: T=problem at the top few sections of page; H=habitat (too short?  Not a 2 part description?); L=location needs more; B=weak or too brief; I=identification (incorrect or more explanation needed).  Points will be deducted if errors are repeated.


2)      Species List—10 points

You will submit a typed list of all species encountered during the quarter.  This list is to be taken from your field log.  Mammals should be listed in the order in which they were seen; the first mammal in your field log should also be the first on your species list.  If you have more than one sighting of a species in your field log, you will only write that species once on your species list.  The list should have the species names written in proper scientific format and order.  The Species List (and the related Field Log) is due at the last class period before finals week.  The species List may look something like this:

      1. Mephitis   mephitis

      2. Odocoileus  hemionus

      3. Microtus  montanus

      4. Etcetera


3)      Presentation—20 points

Students will give a three minute presentation about some feature (behavior, natural history, physiology, superlative attribute or eccentricity) of a Northwest mammal of your choosing.  I want you to find some aspect of the animal that intrigued or fascinated you. The presentation is only three minutes so you will only be able to share one nugget of information.  My hope is that you search through a few peer review journals (a backbone of the scientific process) and that you discover some of the marvel of the animal kingdom.  The requirements of this project are:

·         Your information must be from a peer review journal.  You will copy that journal article, highlight the parts that your presentation is based on and turn it in to me the class before you are scheduled to give your presentation.  If you are unsure of whether your article is from an acceptable source, show it to me early enough that you have time to find another article if yours is not acceptable.

·         Your goal is to find something fascinating about your animal and share it with the class.  I do not want a report on the contents of your article; I want something interesting that you happened to have found in that article.

·         I will post a sign up list in the class.  Only three students may present on the same animal; when three students have signed up for a particular Northwest mammal, that mammal is closed to other presentations.

·         Your presentation to the class will be only three minutes.  Use notes and pictures if possible but don’t use your peer reviewed article during your presentation.

Grading Your Presentation: Eight points are for getting a peer reviewed article.  The remaining 12 are for your in-class presentation:


Presentation attribute


Interesting communication style (good eye contact, attempt to be engaging with audience)

Well prepared (fluent speech)

Proper time

10 to 12

Communication style had weaknesses

Topic was a bit hard to follow


Hard to hold student’s interest because of  poor communication style

Topic hard to grasp; low interest

Less than 7


4)      Latin Vocabulary Test—10 points

During the quarter, I will give you Latin word roots (for example, e.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin words exempli gratia which mean for example).  I will give a Latin vocabulary test on the same day I give the final exam.


5)      Two Additional Assignments—25 points each (50 total)

See the syllabus schedule for due dates.  You may pick any two of the assignments you wish.  The assignment list varies periodically so it is not included here.  Mr. Clark will provide you with an assignment list in the second week of class.