BIO 131 General Botany, Department of Biological Sciences

Catalog Description

Prerequisite: BIO 121. Structure and function of vascular plants; morphology, classification, life histories, ecology and evolution of autotrophs, plantlike protists, and fungi. 3 Lec/3 Lab.

When and Where

Lectures, Moore 123:
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 to 10:45
Labs, Moore 202:
Tuesday 12:30 to 3:15
Wednesday 8:00 to 10:45
Thursday 11:00 to 2:45


Plant Biology, second edition, Graham, Graham and Wilcox
This book is required, as readings will be assigned to accompany the lectures.
A photographic atlas for the botany laboratory, fifth edition, Rushforth, Robbins, Crawley and Van De Graaf
This book is recommended, as the illustrations may be useful during the lab exercises.

Contacting the Instructor

In general, email will be the best way to reach me. If you want to meet with me, ask me after class, or by email, and I'll set up a time that suits both our schedules.

I don't post set office hours. In general, outside of class time I will be in my office (229 Beckham) or in the lab (Moore 202). You may be lucky enough to catch me either place, and I will try to post my whereabouts on my office door each day so if you need me in a hurry that's the place to start.


This course has two related learning objectives:

  1. Understanding the structure and function of flowering plants
    • Growth and development
    • Reproductive structures and strategies
    • Ecological and environmental relationships
    • Economic importance
  2. Understanding the diversity of plants and plant-like organisms
    • Evolutionary relationships
    • Key innovations
    • Life history and biology
    • Ecological roles
    • Economic importance

Several themes unite these concepts:

Ecological trade-offs:
Living is expensive; using resources for something (e.g., growth) means having less resources available for something else (e.g., reproduction).
Structure follows function
Natural selection favors structures that efficiently serve their function.
The evolution of key innovations lead to ecological expansion:
Photosynthesis freed organisms from dependence on rare inorganic resources.
A series of innovations allowed plants to colonize progressively drier environments.

In order to effectively achieve these objectives, students will have to come to terms with a large volume of information. It is possible, but not desirable, to achieve this through brute-force memorization. Science progresses by two inter-related processes: the accumulation of data, and the development of theoretical frameworks to organize those data. In the botanical realm, evolutionary classification and ecological principles provide us with the tools necessary to arrange our rapidly accumulating data into a logical framework. This makes it possible for us to learn a few related, logically consistent and very interesting stories as we process what would otherwise be an imposing quantity of information.


The schedule that follows provides the rough outline for this course. I will revise it as the course progresses, but the basic order will remain the same. Note especially that, unless I notify you otherwise in class or via Blackboard, the dates of the quizzes, reading assignments, lab and lecture exam dates will not change.

The last drop day for Fall 2010 is October 29.

Lecture and Lab Schedule
(subject to change!)
Aug. 24 Introduction, plant chemistry Chapter 3 Tree identification
Aug. 26 Plant Cells Chapter 4
Aug. 31 Photosynthesis Chapter 5 Plant distribution Part I
Sept. 2 Photosynthesis Chapter 5
Sept. 7 Growth and development Chapter 8 Plant distribution Part II
Sept. 9 Stems Chapter 9
Sept. 14 Lecture Test 1 Chapters 3-5, 7-9 Plant distribution Part III
Sept. 16 Secondary Growth Chapter 9
Sept. 21 Secondary Growth, Wood Chapter 9 Anatomy part I: Cells and Tissues
Plant distribution lab report due
Sept. 23 Leaves, photosynthesis and transpiration Chapter 11
Sept. 28 Roots Chapter 10 Anatomy part II: Shoots and Leaves
Sept. 30 Roots and Soils Chapter 10
Oct. 5 Anatomy part III: Secondary Growth
Oct. 7
Oct 12 Fall Break, no class No labs this week
Oct. 14 Lecture Test 2
Oct. 19 Anatomy part IV: Roots
Oct. 21
Oct. 26 Anatomy Test
Oct. 28
Oct. 29 Last day to drop
Nov. 2 Classification
Nov. 4
Nov. 9 Bacteria and Protists
Classification report due
Nov. 11 Lecture test 3
Nov. 16 Seedless Plants and Gymnosperms
Nov. 18
Nov. 23 No labs this week
Nov. 25 Thanksgiving
Nov. 30 Angiosperms
Dec. 2
Dec. 7 Diversity Test
Dec. 9
Dec. 16Lecture Test 4, 8-10 AM

Student Learning Objectives

  • Understand the structure and function of flowering plants:
    • anatomy
    • reproduction
    • physiology
  • Understand the ecological importance of the key innovations leading to the evolution of vascular plants:
    • photosynthesis
    • endosymbiosis
    • cuticle
    • vascular tissue
    • lignin
    • ovules
    • pollen
    • ovaries



60% of your final grade will be based on lectures. There will be four lecture tests, as shown in the schedule above. Each test is weighted equally, and the lowest of the four will be dropped for the final grade. In other words, each of your best three lecture tests will be worth 20% of the final grade. Tests may include anything covered in class. Unless I have said otherwise, everything in class may be on the tests.


35% of your final grade will be based on labs. There will be four short quizzes worth a total of 5% (i.e., 1.25% each), and the lab midterm and final will be worth 15% each.


5% of your final grade will be based on four reading assignments, each worth 1.25%. The textbook for this course if very comprehensive. So much so, that some students find it intimidating to use. I have assigned readings for all lectures, but it is important to understand that the lectures are what's important - if you understand what we cover in class, you do not need to struggle with the material in the text to succeed in this course. I have indicated on the schedule above four readings which I want you to complete in advance of the classes where we will cover the material. My intention is for you to use the textbook to introduce yourself to the material, and not worry about understanding all of the details. Each of these four readings will have short, easy!, multiple-choice quizzes, available on Blackboard. You must complete these quizzes prior to the class for which the readings are assigned. You may do the quizzes while reading the book, you may do the quizzes working in teams. The only requirement is that you do the quizzes before the deadline.

Extra Credit

There will be no extra credit in this course.


Attendance at all classes and labs is mandatory. The readings may change somewhat from the schedule above, with any changes announced during class. Also, some of the readings are long and detailed; we will discuss which aspects of each reading are most important. The lab quizzes and tests will require students to recognize and interpret structures from fresh and preserved specimens. It is not easy to do this unless you have already examined specimens during the preceding labs!

If you need to miss a lab or lecture for any reason it is crucial that you tell me as early as possible. If we have a few weeks' notice, alternative arrangements can likely be made. My flexibility declines with the amount of notice you give me, and if you miss a lab or test without making prior arrangements you will not be able to make it up without a valid, documented excuse.


If you are registered with the Office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities, please make an appointment with the course instructor to discuss any academic accommodations you need. If you need academic accommodations and are not registered with with the Office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities, please contact the Office on the third floor of the Student Services Building, by e-mail at or by telephone at (859)622-2933 V/TDD. Upon individual request, this syllabus can be made available in alternative forms.

Academic Integrity

Students are advised that EKU's Academic Integrity policy will be strictly enforced in this course. The Academic Integrity policy is available on the Academic Affairs website. Questions regarding this policy may be directed to the Office of Academic Integrity.