Spring 2010


Lecture:          Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00-11:50, BSE 225

Labs:              Thursday, 2:30-5:00, BSE 124


Instructor:      Mitchel McClaran: 112 Biological Sciences East, 621-1673, mcclaran@u.arizona.edu.

Office hours: Tuesdays 1-2PM and Thursdays 9-10AM or by appointment


Prerequisites: RNR 230 or equivalent course in plant identification and taxonomy.


Course Description: 

Lecture: Survey of western U.S. rangeland plant communities, focusing on vegetation composition, vegetation dynamics and responses to management practices.


Lab: Sight identification, geographic location, ecology and management characteristics of important plants in these communities.


Course Objectives:

Develop understanding of western U.S. rangeland plant community structure, function, and response to management practices; and improve plant identification skills.


Texts (required): 

Stubbendieck, J., S.L. Hatch, L.M. Landholt. 2003. North American Wildland Plants. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln. 


Lecture and Lab Notes containing copies of all overheads used in the course. (Available at UA bookstore)


Texts (optional):

Brown, D. (ed.). 1994. Biotic Communities of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Brown, D. (ed.). 1994. Map of Biotic Communities of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Epple, A.O. 1995. A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona. LewAnn Publishing Company, Mesa, AZ.

Mabberly, D.J. 2008. Plant Book. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.



A 10x hand lens is strongly recommended.


Course Homepage: http://ag.arizona.edu/classes/ram382/home.html, in addition, reading materials and other documents are available on our course site on D2L (http://d2l.arizona.edu/).

RAM 382

Spring 2010


Tests  and Grading:  One-third of final grade will be based on the lab, and the remainder on the lecture. In the lecture there are two 1-hour exams and one 1-hour final exam, worth 100 points each. Questions are short essay and short answer, based on the lecture and reading materials. There are seven lab quizzes covering plant identification from study mounts and questions about ecology, management, and species identification. Quizzes emphasize plants covered in the previous week, but identification will always include plants from any previous lab. The 6 highest quiz scores will be included in the calculation of the final grade.  The lab final exam will be worth about 46% of the lab grade, it will be a comprehensive plant identification exam. Attendance on 2 of the 4 field trips is required, and attending a 3rd field trip will replace the lowest lab quiz with a 100% score. All points from a lab quiz will be deducted for failing to attend a required field trip.


Letter grades will be based on the proportion of the total available points available in the course.  The letter grades will be: Grade A > 88%, Grade B 78-87%, Grade C 68-77%, Grade D 58-67%, and Grade E < 57%.


Lecture exams given in 2009 are in on the FAST COPY course notes.


Point values assigned to plant identification elements on the lab quizzes and lab final are:


                   Family or Tribe     2 points         Common name  2 points

                   Genus                   3 points         Longevity         1 point

                   Specific Epithet   3 points         Origin                1 point


Each quiz includes identification of 8 plants. Credit for the species name is given only when the genus is correctly identified.  Misspelling the family/tribe, genus, species, or common name will result in a loss of 0.5 point for each misspelled word.  Four questions pertaining to plant identification, ecological and management characteristics will account for 24 points on each quiz.


The lab point total is 1332, which combines the 720 points from the best six quizzes and 612 points from the lab final. Total lab points are converted to 150 points by multiplying by 0.1126.


Extra Credit:

Extra credit to replace one lab quiz score or one field trip is available. This extra credit can be a book review of an early exploration, pioneer settlement, or scientific endeavors in geographic areas covered in this class, or a summary of a species’ importance in an animal’s diet from three published studies. Extra credit efforts must be pre-approved by the instructor. These written efforts are due at the time of the lecture final.


In addition, two extra credit points will be given for lab quizzes when the student identifies any misspelled word on any handout given during the course.  Only the first student to identify the misspelling will be given the extra credit points.


Proportion of the Total Grade Completed by End of the Eighth Week of the Semester:

By the end of week eight (02 March), we will have completed one lecture test (1/3 of lecture total), and two field trips and three lab quizzes (about 1/4 of the lab total).  All together, by week eight we will have completed about 34% of the total points available in the course.

RAM 382

Spring 2010


Attendance and Late Work Policy:

Attendance is not required for lectures, except days when there is an exam. If unable to attend an exam, the student must contact the instructor prior to the scheduled exam time to make arrangements to complete the exam at a different time, otherwise there will be no other opportunity to complete the exam.  Attendance is not required for labs, but lab quizzes will only be given one time. Attendance is required for any 2 of the 4 field trips.


Conduct Policy:

Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not inhibit the learning experience of fellow students.  Therefore, all cell phones must remain off class, and those using computers to take notes must sit in the back rows to minimize disruption to fellow students. Questions and discussion in lecture and the lab sections are greatly encouraged, and will be facilitated by the instructor.


Special Needs and Accommodations:

Students needing special accommodations or special services should contact the Disability Resource Center http://drc.arizona.edu/index.html. The need for specialized services must be documented and verified by that institution. 


Academic Integrity:

Students are encouraged to discuss the course materials and their interpretations of those materials, however, work that is submitted to complete assignments and to complete exams, must be that of the individual student.  This course operates in accordance with the University academic policies on A Code of Academic Integrity, which can be accessed at http://www.deanofstudents.arizona.edu/codeofacademicintegrity.


Personal Privacy:

Graded work will be returned to each student personally, rather than left in a public area for retrieval.  Final grades will be posted on the University website within a few days after the Final Exam. Alternatively, student can provide a self-addressed stamped postcard at the time of the Final Exam and the Instructor will note the final grade and post the card. Grades will not be reported in an email message.



Students permanently leaving the course must file a drop or withdrawal form.  Students must not assume that they will be dropped after failing to attend class.






RAM 382

Spring 2010

                                   Course Outline

Date                Topic                                               


Jan 14 Th         Introduction

Lab:Introduction and Grass Identification


Jan 19 Tu         Plant Communities

Jan 21 Th         Vegetation Dynamics

Lab: Hot Desert


Jan 26 Tu         Vegetation Dynamics

Jan 28 Th         Hot Desert

Lab: Desert Grassland & PRACTICE QUIZ


Feb 02 Tu        Hot Desert

Feb 04 Th        Desert Grassland

                        Lab: Arizona Chaparral/Oak Woodland & Riparian & QUIZ


NOTE:           09 February is last day to drop classes without a grade on transcript


Feb 09 Tu        No Class Scheduled

Feb 11 Th        No Class Scheduled

                        Lab: No Meeting


Feb 16 Tu        Desert Grassland

Feb 18 Th        Desert Grassland (last lecture on First Exam)

Lab: Salt Desert and California Annual Grass, Chaparral, Oak Woodland & QUIZ


Feb 23 Tu        FIRST EXAM

Feb 25 Th        Arizona Chaparral


Feb 27 Sa (NOTE)  Lab: Field Trip - Spatial Variation in Altar Valley


Mar 02 Tu       Arizona Oak Woodland

Mar 04 Th       Riparian Woodland

Lab:  Sagebrush-grass and QUIZ


Mar 06 Sa (NOTE)  Lab: Field Trip - Temporal Variation at Santa Rita Experimental Range                   


NOTE:           09 March is last day to drop classes with a grade of “W”


Mar 09 Tu       Riparian Woodland

Mar 11 Th       California Annual Grassland

Lab: Pinyon-Juniper Woodland and QUIZ



RAM 382

Spring 2010


Mar 16 Tu       Spring Break

Mar 18 Th       Spring Break


Mar 23 Tu       California Chaparral California Oak Woodland

Mar 25 Th       California Oak Woodland (last lecture on Second Exam)

Lab:  Ponderosa Pine-grass and QUIZ


Mar 30 Tu       SECOND EXAM

Apr 01 Th        Salt Desert

                        Lab:  Shortgrass and Tallgrass Prairies and QUIZ


Apr 06 Tu        Sagebrush-grass 

Apr 08 Th        Sagebrush-grass

Lab: No Meeting

Apr 10 Sa  (NOTE)    Lab: Field Trip - Riparian Community, Muleshoe Ranch


Apr 13 Tu        Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

Apr 15 Th        Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

                        Lab:  Mountain Meadows/Grasslands and QUIZ


Apr 20 Tu        Ponderosa Pine-grass

Apr 22 Th        Ponderosa Pine-grass

Lab: No Meeting

Apr 24 Sa  (NOTE)    Lab: Field Trip - Pinaleno Mountains


Apr 27 Tu        Mountain Meadows/Grasslands

Apr 29 Th        Shortgrass and Mixedgrass Prairies

                        Lab: FINAL CUMULATIVE EXAM


May 04 Tu       Tallgrass Prairie         



May 11 Tu       Lecture FINAL EXAM   11 AM - 1 PM

RAM 382

Spring 2010

Lecture Readings (items are on electronic reserve on Library server)

14 Jan   McClaran, M.P. and W.W. Brady. 1994.  Arizona's diverse vegetation and contributions to plant ecology. Rangelands 16:208-217.


19 Jan   Barbour, M.G., J.H. Burk, W.D. Pitts, F.S. Gilliam, and M.W. Schwartz.1999. Terrestrial Plant Ecology. Third Ed. Benjamin/Cummings Pub. Co. Pages 179-209.


21 Jan   Westoby, M., B. Walker and I. Noy-Meir. 1989. Opportunistic management for rangelands not at equilibrium. J. Range Management 42:266-74.


28 Jan   Turner, R.M. and D.E. Brown. 1982. Sonoran Desert scrub. Desert Plants 4(1-4):181-221.


04 Feb   McClaran, M.P. 1995. Desert grasslands and grasses. In, M.P. McClaran and T.R. Van Devender (eds.). The Desert Grassland. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. pp.1-30.


25 Feb   Pase, C.P. and D.E. Brown. 1994. Interior Chaparral. Pages 95-99. In Brown, D.E. (ed.) Biotic Communities and the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.


02 Mar  McClaran, M.P. and G.R. McPherson. 1999. Oak Savanna in the American Southwest. In R.C. Anderson. J.S. Fralish, and J. Baskin (eds.). Savanna, Barrens, and Rock Outcrop Plant Communities of North America. Cambridge University Press. Pages 275-287.


04 Mar  Asplund, K.K. and M.T. Gooch. 1988. Geomorphology and the distributional ecology of Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) in a desert riparian canyon. Desert Plants 9:17-27. 


11 Mar  Heady, H.F., J.W. Bartolome, M.D. Pitt, G.D. Savelle and M.C. Stroud. 1992. California prairie. In, R.T. Coupland (ed.). Ecosystems of the World. 8A Natural Grasslands, Introduction and Western Hemisphere. Elsevier. pp. 313-335.


23 Mar  Keeley, J.E. and S.C. Keeley. 1988. Chaparral. In: M.G. Barbour and W.D. Billings (Eds.) North American Terrestrial Vegetation.  pp. 165-207.


01 Apr  Branson, F.A. 1985. Vegetation changes on western range­ lands.  Range Monograph No. 2. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO. pp. 30-34. 


06 Apr  Branson, F.A. 1985. Vegetation changes on western range­ lands.  Range Monograph No. 2. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO. pp. 23-30. 


13 Apr  Romme et al. 2009. Historical and modern disturbance regimes, stand structures, and landscape dynamics in Pinon-Juniper vegetation of the western United States. Rangeland Ecology and Mnagament 62:203-222. 


20 Apr Branson, F.A. 1985. Vegetation changes on western range­ lands.  Range Monograph No. 2. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO. pp. 52-56. 


27 Apr Ratliff, R.D., M.R. George and N.K. McDougald. 1987. Managing livestock grazing on meadows of California's Sierra Nevada: a manager-user guide. University of California Cooperative Extension Leaflet 21421. 9 p.

29 Apr Branson, F.A. 1985. Vegetation changes on western range­ lands.  Range Monograph No. 2. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO. pp. pp. 6-22. 

04 May            Albertson, F.W. and G.W. Tomanek. 1965. Vegetation changes during a 30-year period in grassland communities near Hays, Kansas.  Ecology 46(5):714-720.