Humboldt State University

Jeff Black, PhD, DSc

707 826 3439

Wildlife 311 - Course Outline

All my course information is now housed on the campus online course system (Moodle) that is accessible to enrolled students. The links and information below are from older course offerings, providing prospective students a rough idea of course content.

  • Credits & classes: 4 units (2 lectures, 1 Discussion, 1 Lab) (Fieldwork required)
  • Location: Lectures (please check schedule), Disc and Labs (either WLDF 166 or 230)
  • Instruction by: Jeff Black
  • Office: WFB 260. I look forward to seeing you during office hours. Please check hours posted on my office door.

Course Goals

  • Introduce some field, lab, computer and analytical techniques used in wildlife studies.
  • Encourage hands-on field situations to practice wildlife techniques.
  • Emphasis on techniques to do with formulating research questions and study designs, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting findings in the form of a scientific manuscript.
  • The course prepares wildlife majors for more advanced courses that will require the completion of an intensive, independent research project - from the hatching of an idea for a field project to collecting and analyzing the data to the final written report.

WLDF 301 (and all prerequisites for 301) & BIOM 109 (Statistics).


Check out Wildlife 311 web pages will keep you informed and offer helpful hints..

Required Textbooks

  • Sutherland W 2006 Ecological Census Techniques
  • Braun CE 2005 Techniques for Wildlife Investigations and Management

Useful Gear

Everyone should consider obtaining these.

  • Calculator with standard deviation and standard error functions.
  • 8x40 (or better) binoculars
  • x45 zoom (or better) spotting scope
  • Write-in-the-rain field notebook

Learning Assessment

Students are assessed on performance via exams, lab exercises practicing various techniques, data collection and recording skills, project proposals, progress reports and final manuscripts. Here is an example of point distribution:

  • Lecture exams: (2) 75 pts each
  • Final exam: 125 pts
  • Lab exercises: 90 pts
  • Preliminary proposal: 25 pts
  • Progress report: 50 pts
  • Research paper: 100 pts
  • Dream project: 75 pts
  • Participation: 10 pts
  • Mark-resighting extra credit 50 pts = Extra pts available!!!

Overall assessments would be ranked as follows: exams (44%), project design & reports (40%) and field and lab skills (14%).


Grades will be base on a straight percentage.

100%-90% = A, 89%-80% = B, 79%-70% = C, 69%-60% = D, <60% = F

Provisional Schedule

this is an example for web site only


Lecture Topics
Lab Topics

Aug 28,29,30

Describing natural phenomenon, hypotheses, predictions, tests, objectives and questions, dependent (response) variables & independent variables.

Topics from lecture – preparing to do a field-based research project

Marsh trip: sampling technique

Canada goose sampling techniques

Natural history notebooks

Sept 4,5,6

4th Sept Labor Day – off

Designing a study, writing a proposal The art of writing research reports.

No Disc: readings only

READ: CH 1 in Bookhout (1996)

CH 1-6 and Appendix 1 & 3 in Davis (1997)

No Lab: readings only:

READ: CH 1 in Bookhout (1996)

CH 1-6 and Appendix 1 & 3 in Davis (1997)

Sept 11,12,13

Population surveys, counts, estimates, point sampling, indexes, decision making.

Journal format: Ratti & Smith (1997)

Identifying hypotheses, predictions, and variables

Writing an introduction; reviewing a sample study from the literature – exercise.

Writing a methods section.

Computer lab I: Planning for field work (check sheets, protocols & timelines)

Writing a literature cited section.

Sept 18,19,20

18th Sept DUE Preliminary Proposal

Animal sampling, assumptions, confounding variables, indexes, sample size issues

READ: CH4 in Davis (1997); CH 5, 7, 8 in Bookhout (1996)

Conducting a literature review.

Library trip & exercise

Sept 25,26,27

Estimates, surveys (ground & air)

Resighting & mark recapture

Age and sex techniques

READ: CH11 & Appendix 2 & 8

in Davis (1997)

Reviewing expectations for progress reports.

Goose data entry on web.

Writing a results section.

Computer lab II: Data handling, analysis Tables & Figures



2nd Oct DUE Progress report

Capture, animal handling and ethics.

Trap styles and techniques. Benefits of individual marking schemes.

Animal welfare & Section 5 policies

READ: CH 4 & 9 in Bookhout (1996)

Class project assessment.

Animal (bean) lab: sample size issues, Kelker's, Index control & Petersen



9th Oct EXAM #1


Final protocol session and sign-up for data collection

Consensus session on Marsh project protocol

Consensus session on Marsh project protocol



Map systems

Maps, GPS

READ: Kuyper (1991) handout

Literature critique & project review

Map systems, compass (inside)



Experimental design (scale issues).

Habitat sampling.

READ: CH 22 in Bookhout (1996)

Literature critique & project review

Mapping & location (outside)



Nov 1

Plots, transects stands, adequate sample sizes, variance in data.

Literature critique & project review Preparing for topic signup

Stats lab: correlation, contingency tables, test of population means



Vegetation % cover, density, canopy cover, etc.


Sampling practice in a Redwood forest



DUE 13th Nov Final Manuscript &

DUE 15th Nov 1st Mark-resightings – extra credit

Variable plots, plotless, line intercept variance and sample size issues

DREAM PROJECT topic signup Review expectations for Dream project

1st vegetation sampling board exercise









Telemetry & tracking

29th Nov EXAM #2

READ: CH 15 in Bookhout (1996)


2nd vegetation sampling board exercise



Problem species management.

Endangered species management.

Conflict resolution issues in wildlife management.

READ: CH 18, 19 & 20 in Bookhout (1996)

Literature critique & project review

Radio telemetry practice



DUE 13thDec Dream Project Proposals & 2nd Mark-resightings – extra credit

Giving a paper at a conference.

Presenting a poster

MS Powerpoint software

Wildlife senior project (thesis) requirements.

READ: CH 17 & Appendix 13

in Davis (1997)

Home range models

Dec 20

Wednesday at 0800-0950….. FINAL EXAM (cumulative)

Assignment Due Dates

special events and point allocation - this is an example for web site only

28th 29th Aug Field trip to Arcata Marsh and Bottoms -
18th Sept Preliminary Proposal 25 pts
25th Sept Initiate extra credit mark-resightings -
2nd Oct Progress report 50 pts
9th Oct EXAM #1 75 pts
11th Oct Final protocol session and sign-up for data collection -
13th Nov Final Manuscript 100 pts
15th Nov 1st Mark-resightings – extra credit 20 pts
13th-14th Nov DREAM PROJECT topic signup -
29th Nov EXAM #2 75 pts
13th Dec Dream Project Proposals 75 pts
13th Dec 2nd Mark-resightings – extra credit 30 pts
Dec 20 Wednesday at 0800-0950 FINAL EXAM 125 pts

Lab Exercises

Lab exercises are due at the Discussion session one week after the lab when particular lab topics are practiced (web site example only). These exercises are designed to enable you to practice some lab and analytical skills that wildlife biologists should master.

  • Proposal set up exercise (20 pts)
  • Library exercise (10 pts)
  • Mark recapture exercise (10 pts)
  • Maps exercise 1 (10 pts)
  • Maps exercise 2 (10 pts
  • Forest sampling (10 pts)
  • Veg sampling 1 (10 pts)
  • Veg sampling 2 (10 Pts)