Pollinator Biology and Habitat

STOCKSCH 397 PB Online

December 26, 2017 – January 24, 2018

Instructor:                     Sonia Schloemann, Lecturer

Contact:                          sgs@umass.edu

To Register

sweat bee on strawberry flower (2)In this course we will study the basic biology of pollinators commonly found in North America.  We will learn about their importance in both wild and managed ecosystems and what the essential features of those ecosystems are that support pollinator health.  We will likewise learn about both wild and managed pollinators, what they have in common and what makes them different.  While students will be introduced a wide range of pollinators (from hummingbirds to Syrphid flies), the main focus of the class will be on bee species (from honey bees to sweat bees).  Students will have an opportunity to do an in-depth investigation of a pollinator of their choosing (i.e., a 2-3 page pollinator profile), to share with the class.

Topics will be covered in units, which will include:

  1. Unit 1 – Basics of pollination (botany) and pollinators (biology)
  2. Unit 2 – Overview of types of bee species that are important for pollination in North America
  3. Unit 3 – Overview of the basic features of pollinator habitats (nesting and forage), assessment tools and conservation practices
  4. Unit 4 – Review of the current knowledge about major threats to pollinator health in North America


Each unit will consist of an online lecture presentation and accompanying notes or a set of specific and required readings, which will be posted at the start of that unit and remain available for the duration of the class.  Each unit will run for one week.  Supplemental reading materials or video resources and a study guide will be posted along with the lecture presentations.

Assessments (quizzes) will be given for each unit.  These will be relatively short (10 questions) and focus on the most important topics in each unit.  The quizzes will be posted by 5:00 pm (EST) on Thursday and will remain available until the end of the course.  This will allow flexibility for students to pace themselves through the course.  However, once started, the quiz must be completed within 60 minutes.

In addition to completing all quizzes, each student will be responsible for researching and completing a short pollinator profile assignment (2-3 pages following a template that will be provided) for a pollinating species of their choosing.

 Overall Course Goals

  1. To help students acquire knowledge and skills pertaining to pollinator biology and habitat
  2. To encourage student interest and self directed learning about pollinator biology and habitat
  3. To support student development and creative use of acquired knowledge and skills for pollinator conservation

Learning objectives

  1. Understand pollination
  2. Understand the value of pollinators to managed and wild ecosystems
  3. Understand the role of both wild and managed pollinators in these systems
  4. Understand the threats to pollinator health and how to mitigate some of them
  5. Understand the value of pollinator habitat conservation and enhancement

 Required Textbook: None, but each unit will have a list of readings that will be available to read online or as downloadable pdf files.

 Format:  This class is a lecture format delivered via an on-line environment with unit assessments (quizzes) and an independent assignment for each student. This course is worth 1 credit and is an overview. The instructor will monitor online activity daily and be available for questions and support to the class throughout the week, but will not be available “24/7”.   While there is some flexibility, it is important to move along with the class, so as not to fall behind.  There are 4 units in the class.

Technology: To view the material, make sure you have the ability to access Adobe Connect (info here).  The technical requirements for the class are listed here.

Exams and Grades:  There will be no exams in this class.  Your grade will be based on successful completion of quizzes, submission of an independent assignment during the last week (unit) of the class.   Points are assigned as follows:

Grading categories % of Final Grade
Quizzes (4 quizzes) 75%
Individual pollinator profile assignment 25%

Grades will be given using these ranges:

Final Grade Percentage of total
A 95-100
A- 90-94
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 73-76
C- 70-72
D+ 67-69
D 63-66
F < 62

pollinator nesting tubes - 1-2 (2)

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