Biology 3315L Syllabus

Fall 2004

Instructor: Dr. Ron Matson
Lecture Room: NU 112 (*see lecture syllabus)
Office: SC 310
Lecture Time: MW 9:30- 10:45
Office Hours: M 11:00 - 12:00
Laboratory: SC 245
W 11:00 - 12:00
Lab Time: W: 2:00 - 4:00
Others by Appointment
Office Phone: 770.423.6508


Lab Manual 1
W.25 Aug.
I. Video 1 -- The Ultimate Journey
Preface and Lab 1
W. 01 Sept.
II. Non-Vertebrate Chordates
Lab 2
W. 08 Sept.
Video 2 -- The Coastal Naturalist: Fish
W. 15 Sept.
III. Agnatha & Chondrichthyes
Lab 3 & 4
W. 22 Sept. 
IV. Osteichthyes
Lab 5
W. 29 Sept.. 
Video 3 - Frog Skin
W. 06 Oct.
V. Amphibians
Lab 6
W. 13 Oct.
Video 4-- EternalEnemies: Lions & Hyenas
W. 20 Oct.
VI. Mammals
Lab 8
W. 27 Oct.
Video 5 -- Snakes
W. 03 Nov.
VII. Squamata and Chelonia
Lab 7
W. 10 Nov.
Video 6 -- Crocodiles: Here be Dragons
Lab 7
W 17 Nov.
VIII. Archosaurs; Limited Review for Practical
Lab 7
W. 24 Nov.
No Lab
W. 01 Dec.
Practicum (starts @ 6:00 PM)
W. 08 Dec.
No Lab Scheduled

1 Lab Manual: Gergus, E. W. A., and G. W. Schuett. 2000. Labs for Vertebrate Zoology: An Evolutionary Approach, 2nd Ed.. Cooper Publishing Group, LLC.

Additional laboratory material will be assigned; bring it to lab with you.

(NB: The web-based version of the Biology 3315 (lecture) syllabus has links to taxon specific web sites. It can be accessed here).


BIOL 3315L. Vertebrate Zoology Laboratory. 0-2-1. Prerequisite: BIOL 2107, 2108. Corequisite: BIOL 3315. Laboratories will emphasize the identification of North American vertebrates as well as examine the relationships between morphology and taxonomy.


This is the laboratory course associate with Biology 3315 (Vertebrate Zoology). Vertebrate zoology is an upper level course designed for biology and related majors. Prerequisites for this course are 10-quarter hours or 8 semester hours of majors level introductory biology. The lab is co-requisite for the lecture and the lecture is co-requisite for the lab. That is, you must be enrolled in both lecture and lab. Students without these prerequisites, or who are not enrolled in both lecture and lab, will be administratively withdrawn from the class.

The major emphasis of lectures will be on the evolution of vertebrates and on vertebrate biodiversity. Coverage of each taxonomic group will include discussion of characteristics, systematics, taxonomy, evolution, paleontology, biogeography and unique morphological, physiological, ecological and/or behavioral "adaptations." The laboratory will be dedicated primarily to learning basic vertebrate anatomy and to identifying selected vertebrates (with emphasis being placed on taxa from Georgia and the Southeast). A video will be shown discussing the biology of each major vertebrate taxon. By the end of the semester, you should be able to identify the major groups of vertebrates, have an appreciation of their ecological adaptations and discuss their evolutionary relationships.

Please be aware that this syllabus is tentative. There is so much to talk about in such a course and not everything can be covered. If we decided to spend more time on a topic of interest at the expense of another, so be it! Furthermore, dates and total points are subject to change if there are circumstances, deemed by me, to be extenuating. If changes are made, you will be notified via the "Class Information" section of the Biology 3315 homepage.


Attendance in the laboratory is REQUIRED. We will spend time learning about vertebrate anatomy and identifying specimens. Some of the time will be spent viewing videos that cover selected topics of vertebrate biology that cannot be covered in lecture. DO NOTbring people (friends, relatives etc.) into the lab. Please handle all specimens with extreme care. Turn off all cell phones, pagers etc.

Examinations and Grades: Your grade in the lab will be based as follows:

1) There will be three (3) REQUIRED enrichment activities dealing with vertebrate zoology. I will have a birdwatching trip to Kennesaw Mountain. The others are on your own.  Fulfilling the other two (2) required activities can be accomplished by attending the second field trip and/or by engaging in a pre-arranged activity that is acceptable to me and by completing and returning the enrichment activity form. (Copies of these forms are attached to this syllabus. If you need extra copies, click here). Examples of acceptable enrichment activities would include (but are not limited to): a) attending seminars sponsored by the Department of Biology; b) visiting Zoo Atlanta; c) visiting the Tennessee Aquarium; visiting the Anniston Musuem of Natural History; or e) visiting the Fernbank Museum.

2) Approximately every other lab will entail the showing of videotape. This will allow me to show you some live vertebrates and observe species and/or behaviors that we could not otherwise observe. You will be expected to provide a two page, TYPEWRITTENsummary of the video and answer any questions that have been given to you. All of these video reports are due the next lab period. No late reports will be accepted. You must view videos in lab; I will not loan my videos to anyone.

3) At the end of the semester there will be a timed, practical exam. This exam will require you to "spot" identify the taxa studied; identify anatomical features; provide information about distribution or ecology etc. Material from videos shown either in lecture or lab can be incorporated into exams.

Points are distributed as follows:

Enrichment Activities
30 pts.
Video Summaries: 6@ 20 pts each
120 pts.
100 pts.
250 pts.

Your grade for this course will be based on the following percentages: A = 250-225 points; B = 224 - 200 points; C = 199 - 175 points; D 174 - 150 = points; F = < 149 points. There is no extra-credit." The final grading scale may be adjusted at the discretion of the instructor. If you have any questions about the grading of an exam, please discuss the situation with me immediately after receiving the graded exam. If I decide to regrade an exam, the entire exam will be regraded, not just a specific part. Grades can go up, down or remain the same upon being regraded. Exams or other assignments will not be regraded at the end of the semester. Papers, assignments etc. that are turned in late will have 5 points per day (including holidays & weekends) deducted from the total. NO assignments will be accepted more than three (3) calendar days after their due date and no assignment will be accepted after the last day of lecture. All assignments must be STAPLED (not paperclipped, folded etc.; you will loose points if they are not stapled).  Any material not picked-up by the end of the semester will be discarded within 60 days of the end of the semester. I reserve the right to adjust the point totals for this course if the need arises. You will be notified of such changes in lecture and/or via the web (click here).

GRADES WILL NOT BE POSTED at the end of the semester. Please check Owl Registration to view your grades.

GRADES WILL NOT BE POSTED at the end of the semester. Please check Owl Registration to view your grades.

Accommodations: Any student with a documented disability or medical condition needing academic accommodations of class-related activities or schedules must contact the instructor immediately. Written verification from the KSU disAbled Student Support Services is required. No requirements exist that accommodations be made prior to completion of this approved University documentation. All discussions will remain confidential.

Academic Honesty: Every KSU student is responsible for upholding the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, as published in theUndergraduate and Graduate Catalogs. Section II of the Student Code of Conduct addresses the University's policy on academic honesty, including provisions regarding plagiarism and cheating, unauthorized access to University materials, misrepresentation/falsification of University records or academic work, malicious removal, retention, or destruction of library materials, malicious/intentional misuse of computer facilities and/or services, and misuse of student identification cards. Incidents of alleged academic misconduct will be handled through the established procedures of the University Judiciary Program, which includes either an "informal" resolution by a faculty member, resulting in a grade adjustment, or a formal hearing procedure, which may subject a student to the Code of Conduct's minimum one semester suspension requirement.

You are expected to follow the regulations as stated on pages 244-248 of the 2004-2005 of the Kennesaw State University Undergraduate Catalog. Plagiarism and cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. This includes copying papers and not providing proper literature citations. Any violations of the Student Conduct Regulations will be handled through the University Court.

Withdrawal Policy: Effective Fall 2004, there is a new withdrawaly policy in effect. The withdrawal policy as stated on page 42 of the 2004-2005 Kennesaw State University Undergraduate Catalog will be followed; see also the current schedule of classes. For this semester, the last day to withdraw without academic penalty is 18 October 2004. Make certain to follow all procedures if you decide to withdraw; failure to do so will result in your being assigned a grade of  "F" for the course. If you withdraw from this course, make certain to withdraw from Biology 3315L as well (they are corequisite to each other and you must be enrolled in both). Please note, that while there is no academic penalty for withdrawing, there can be financial and other types of penalties. For example, a grade of "W" does count against hours attempted for Hope scholarship purposes. A pattern of withdrawing can hurt you in your attempt to get a job or into graduate/professional school. Do not make a habit out of withdrawing.

Recycling Policy: REDUCE WASTE AND RECYCLE. If possible, please use (purchase) recycled goods. On campus, paper can be recycled in the bins found in the front of each classroom and aluminum cans can be recycled in theappropriate containers in the hall.  Please do not mix waste with the materials to be recycled. It's your planet, your campus, your health and well being and your economy -- help them all by recycling.  See page 252 of the current catalog for the KSU Position Statement on Environmental Awareness.

URL: Copies of this syllabus, along with other material relevant to this course, can be found on the course Homepage. The URL for the course Homepage is:

Click here to find web sites related to this course. You will be required to utilize this web site to obtain course materials. See me if you have any trouble accessing this web site. I will post messages relating to any changes to this syllabus on this website (click here). You are responsible for any changes posted.

Office Hours: My office hours are listed on the first page of this syllabus. I encourage you to avail yourself of them.  If you cannot make it to any of these scheduled hours, please make an appointment. I'm certain that we can find a mutually acceptable time to meet. Furthermore, note that my e-mail address is on the top of the first page. Feel free to e-mail me. I will respond as soon as possible.

Your continued presence in this course signifies your acceptance of the policies and procedures outlined above.


Make certain to bring your lab manual to every lab. Here are some more detailed instructions as to what you should learn in lab. Notice that not all of the lab manual will be covered. Furthermore, I will have some specimens (primarily fossils) that are not illustrated in the text. You should be able to identify any specimen to the taxonomic level indicated. You should be able to find ANY of the anatomical structures (or their homologs) listed below on any appropriate specimen. You are NOT responsible for any structure not explicitly listed below. You may safely skip any of the pages and/or figures that I have explicitly stated for you to skip.

I have listed questions from each chapter that you should be able to answer. These will give you something to think about and, by answering them, you will know if you are really learning something in this lab. Such questions are fair game on the final lab practical. However, you DO NOT have to turn these in to me. These questions WILL NOT are graded. If a question is not listed, don't worry about it.

In your studies, you will be looking at specimens from the KSU collection or from Fernbank Science Center. Please handle all specimens with care. For the ones in bottles, you will need to take them out of the bottles. Just make certain that specimens are placed back into the bottles from which they came!!!! Drawing pictures and taking notes on characteristics you observe will help you remember these organisms for the practical.

If you misplace your hard copy of this document, you can obtain replacements by clicking on the lab number (in Roman numerals) on the on-line version of the syllabus.