BIOLOGY R155L; Principles of Botany Lab (31528); 1 Unit


Spring, 2016

Meeting time & Place

Lab = F 1:00-3:50 PM (LS-4)


Dr. Michael Nicholson

Contact information

Office = Liberal Arts Building, South Wing, room T

e-mail = -or-

web page =

Office phone = (805) 678-5197 -or- (805) 498-8451

Office hours

TBA early in spring semester


Description from course catalogue:  This course involves laboratory and field studies of the characteristics and relationships of selected plants from the major divisions. Students will learn the principles of taxonomy, and will gain practice in identification of species by means of keys. This course will offer an introduction to the basic experimental techniques and instrumentation used in the investigation of plant physiology.


Lecture and Laboratory are separate for grading purposes.  Lecture must be scheduled separately.  Lab will be comprised of hands-on and virtual (computer-based) laboratory work with predesigned experiments and exercises, as well as presentations, brief lectures, and discussions.  Presentations will most likely be video or physical demonstrations of experiments.    Field trips may be required.


Objectives/SLOs:  At the end of the Laboratory course, students should be able to identify plant structures and functions across a diversity of plant, fungal, and photosynthetic protistan groups using macroscopic and microscopic methods; identify the major plant, fungal, and photosynthetic protistan groups by sight and be able to use dichotomous keys to identify land plants to the genus level; explain trends in development and evolution between major groups of plants, fungi, and photosynthetic protistans, and with specific plant structures and features; and provide evidence of competence with various laboratory techniques employed by the plant biologist, including basic chromatography, free-hand sectioning of samples for microscopic analysis, and simple staining techniques for lignin and cellulose.  These learning objectives will be evaluated during the semester.


Texts:  The required text for this class is:


Bidlack, J., & Jansky, S.. Laboratory Manual for Stern's Introductory Plant Biology, 13 ed.. McGraw-Hill (required)


The lab manual may be obtained at a significant discount online through used book vendors.  The previous edition of the manual is not significantly different from the required version, and may be used instead. Not everything in the manual will be completed in lab.  Please make it a point to review the lab material prior to lab, so that you have some indication regarding what will be accomplished.  Handouts will be provided for some labs, though not always in advance of the lab itself.  For some labs, neither the book nor lab handouts will be provided, and students will be expected to maintain a record of the laboratory independently.


Grading:  There will be up to 12 lab quizzes, each worth up to 20 points.  Although each quiz is likely to focus exclusively on the most recently covered laboratory material (from the past week), some of the questions on quizzes may be cumulative in nature.  DO NOT MISS THE QUIZZES because there are no make-ups.  Most quizzes will be graded, however, parts or all of some quizzes may directly evaluate learning objectives, and may therefore be dependent upon performance under observation, or participation during the lab.  Graded quizzes will be given first thing during laboratory, and will require no more than 10 minutes.  Graded quizzes will generally be short-answer, though some may be fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice.  The lowest graded quiz grade will be dropped.  Missing or doing poorly on a specific graded quiz (for any reason) will not hurt your grade.  Trends in missing quizzes, graded or performance-based, will ultimately ruin a grade.  There will be a comprehensive final exam at the end of the semester (the last laboratory date).  The final will be comprised of multiple-choice, short-answer, and fill-in-the-blank questions, and will be worth 50 points.


There will be a maximum of 270 points available.  Grading will be scaled with 10% brackets (i.e. 90+% is an A, 80-89% is a B, 70-79% is a C, etc).


Attendance:  Positive attendance definitely contributes to the grade, since participation in lab is integral to experiencing the lab material.  Missing a single lab/quiz will not impact a grade.  However, repeatedly missing labs, quizzes, and participation point opportunities will quickly erode a grade, as well as the point value of the lab manual (missed labs cannot be recorded in the lab manual).  If a student misses 1/9 of the course, every effort will be made to automatically drop the student from the course; alternatively, a failing grade may be awarded. Failure to attend is NO GUARANTEE of being dropped!  To avoid receiving a failing grade, students who stop coming to class are urged to drop the course on their own, instead of expecting to be automatically dropped.  Again, labs, quizzes, and participation opportunities are only offered one time, so failure to attend class will result in an automatic zero grade for the lab, assessment, or participation opportunity, since make-ups are not offered.


Academic Honesty:  Cheating is not tolerated and any student found cheating will receive a summary grade of zero on the material at hand.  Academic Dishonesty Reports will be filed as appropriate for a student who performs any acts of cheating.


Cell Phones and Other Distractions or Disruptions:  Cell phones and electronics cannot be used during laboratory and must be muted or otherwise silenced during laboratory.  Use of cell phones is permitted for taking micrographs only, when instructed to do so, and any other use of cell phones or electronics in the lab will result in loss of laboratory participation points.  Recognizing that emergencies can occur and that some students may have a specific responsibility, if an incoming call MUST be answered, please exit the laboratory to do so.  During assessments and quizzes, cell phones must be turned off, so students with responsibilities to others must prepare for a temporary break in communications at these times.  Other disruptions may be interpreted as (to name a few examples) excessive attention to or reliance on messaging/paging, texting, distracting casual conversation during laboratory, dining in the classroom, and using electronics for purposes not directly related to the course material at-hand.  Students who choose to ignore electronics/cell phone rules or who decide to engage in distracting or disruptive activity may be summarily dismissed from the laboratory, and may therefore miss points as a result of the forced departure.


Laboratory Safety:  Students are required to follow laboratory safety guidelines as described by the instructor, as well as in the lab manual.  Specific directives may be given for specific labs.  Failure to follow safety guidelines is justification for summary dismissal from the laboratory.


Educational Assistance Center (EAC):  Students with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or psychological, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class, are encouraged to contact the EAC as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.  Authorization, based on verification of disability, is required before any accommodation can be made.  The phone number for the EAC is (805) 986-5800 ext 5830 and they are located in the Student Services Building (behind business office and admissions and records).




Lab quizzes will be offered at the start of each lab only, and though the lab quizzes may be comprehensive in nature, the subject focus for any specific lab quiz will be the subject matter that was covered in the lab from the previous week.





Lab Subject




Introduction & the Microscope

Introduction & Exercise 1



The Cell & Mitosis

Exercise 2 & 3




Exercise 4



Stems & Leaves

Exercise 5 & 6




Exercise 10



No Class

Exercise 10



Water in plants; Respiration; Digestion

Exercise 11



Domain & Kingdom Survey

Exercise 13



Domains Archaea & Bacteria; Kingdom Protista

Exercise 14



No Class spring break



Kingdoms Fungi & Plantae (lower plants)

Exercise 15 & 16



Kingdom Gymnosperms

Exercise 17



Kingdom Plantae: Angiosperms

Exercise 18



Fruits, Spices, & Survival Plants

Exercise 19



No Class




Exercise 20



Final in lab




Finals start