CCOG for BI 143 Summer 2024

Course Number:
BI 143
Course Title:
Habitats: Freshwater Biology
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Provides a survey of basic ecological principles related to freshwater ecosystems, including streams, lakes and wetlands, with a focus on local habitats and organisms. Discusses the interconnectedness of human societies and freshwater systems. Includes a laboratory component that explores biological, chemical, and physical aspects of freshwater systems. 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 Biology 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.

  1. Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor 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.
  2. 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).

Biology 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 the structure and function of freshwater ecosystems.

  2. Document observations and identify freshwater organisms with a focus on local habitats.

  3. Describe the interconnectedness of human societies and freshwater systems.

  4. Evaluate data related to biological, chemical, and physical components of freshwater systems.

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

Freshwater is essential to life on earth, and our freshwater ecosystems are under great pressure. This course introduces concepts, skills and scientific approaches used to study freshwater systems, including lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Students will investigate the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of these systems, as well as the complex relationships between humans and freshwater resources. In this course, students deepen their understanding of their relationship to the natural environment and develop their ability to reason quantitatively by performing data collection and interpretation. This course considers the benefits and potential dangers posed by freshwater systems, such as water supply, natural and cultural resources, and flood hazards.

Aspirational Goals

Develop an appreciation of the importance of freshwater systems and organisms and an understanding of how rivers, lakes, and wetlands are connected to human communities.

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 experiences using a variety of skills such as: proper use of equipment, data collection and analysis, and use of dichotomous keys to identify common freshwater species

  5. Written lab reports or papers

  6. Oral presentations

  7. Reflection activities

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. Introduction to physical and chemical limnology

  2. Fundamentals of ecology

  3. Structure and function in freshwater organisms

  4. Biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems

  5. Interactions between freshwater, terrestrial, and atmospheric systems

  6. Interconnectedness of human societies and freshwater systems 

  7. Importance of freshwater resources such as water, sediment, and salmon


  1. Water as a finite resource

  2. Effects of climate change on freshwater systems

  3. Endangered species

  4. Invasive species

  5. Dams

  6. Floodplain connectivity

  7. Groundwater depletion


  1. Collect data related to freshwater habitats 

  2. Observe freshwater organisms carefully

  3. Use dichotomous keys 

  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.