CCOG for BI 141 Summer 2024

Course Number:
BI 141
Course Title:
Habitats: Life of the Forest
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Examines the structure and function of forest ecosystems with a focus on the Pacific Northwest. Covers distribution and interactions of plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as physical factors such as climate, soil, and water. Emphasizes plant identification, field sampling, and environmental testing in laboratory component. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

1. Fieldwork Statement

Fieldwork is a professional competence in many areas of Biology. Standard field practices include measurements of abiotic and biotic components. Fieldwork includes use of all the senses to make observations in natural and built environments. Field training may include developing skills in site characterization, measurement and data collection, application of key terms and concepts, species identification, and observation. Certain protocols may require use of equipment, chemicals, and expensive gear. Field training is experiential often leading to unique sets of observations/data in particular locations. Fieldwork may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, off-trail work with map & compass, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel, stress, etc.). Fieldwork can be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or unusual means to field points, carrying field equipment (as well as food, water, and safety equipment), taking measurements under duress (learning new protocols, requiring remaining in an unusual posture or position for a length of time, timing pressures for certain procedures, holding organisms, variable weather, etc.), survival skills, orienteering, and so on.

2. Evolution Statement

To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Science Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

A. Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, a dogma, nor a myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.

B. The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation “science” is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation “science” is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

Science instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Biology Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Apply basic ecological principles to describe forest structure and function.
  2. Use key characteristics to identify organisms common to Pacific Northwest forests and understand their natural history.
  3. Apply an understanding of the complex interactions between humans and forest ecosystems and how those interactions influence forest management practices.
  4. Work individually and in groups to effectively collect and analyze data related to biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of forests.

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

Forests are essential to life on earth, and these ecosystems are under great pressure. This class investigates the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of these systems, as well as the complex relationships between humans and forest resources. Students will spend time outside in forests, deepen their understanding of the natural environment, and develop their ability to reason quantitatively by performing data collection and interpretation. Students explore the biodiversity and complexity of forest communities, as well as human societies’ dependence and impact on forest ecosystems.

Aspirational Goals

Develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of forests that translates into action that supports healthy forest ecosystems.

Course Activities and Design

Course activities may include:

  1. Lectures
  2. Field trips
  3. Active learning approaches such as relevant case studies
  4. Laboratory sections may include fieldwork and laboratory skills such as: proper use of equipment, sampling techniques, data collection in the field, data analysis, use of dichotomous keys to identify common forest species, and soil analysis
  5. Written lab reports
  6. Written papers
  7. Oral presentations

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  1. Exams and quizzes which may include multiple choice, matching, true-or-false, short-answer, identification, and essay questions
  2. Written lab reports and/or lab notebooks
  3. Written assignments
  4. Oral presentations

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts and Themes:

  1. Fundamentals of ecology

  2. Energy relationships and biogeochemical cycles 

  3. Biodiversity of forest ecosystems

  4. Forest land, soil, watershed, and atmospheric systems

  5. Stream-forest interactions

  6. Human impacts on forests 

  7. Identify common PNW forest organisms


  1. Endangered species 

  2. Invasive species 

  3. Fire 

  4. Climate change 

  5. Disease 

  6. Forest management

  7. Urban forests 


  1. Use dichotomous keys to identify common organisms

  2. Perform field sampling

  3. Use equipment to collect data related to environmental parameters 

  4. Analyze data related to environmental parameters and present conclusions 

  5. Practice scientific literacy by locating and accessing reliable information and use this information to draw logical conclusions

  6. Collaborate with peers and work effectively within groups

  7. Clear written and oral presentation of information and data