Biocore 301 Mini Paper #1 Goal: Prepare a briefing report for a policy maker regarding an ecological/environmental issue

. Scenario You have been hired as a scientist to prepare a briefing report to government officials, based on a question they have on a scientific topic (see examples starting on page 3). These officials are part of a committee charged to investigate an ecological/ environmental issue that they know little about but about which they are poised to create policy. Given the strength of evidence and confidence you have in the data you uncover, provide a clear position on a topic from your perspective as a trained scientist, including data as evidence and your evaluation of the strength of the evidence for the position. The goal is to explain the current thinking on a topic as presented in the scholarly literature, and the evidence/reasoning behind the information. Timetable and Procedures Select your topic and write brief summary (1 paragraph) describing two resources you have found on your topic, the quality of these resources, and what information you are looking for. Send to your Lecture TA for review, no later than September 13th Attend one of the sessions of the Library Workshop, the Week of September 16th. Submit a complete draft to your peer reviewer on September 24th so that you can discuss the review in Discussion on September 26 Revised (final) paper due before lecture on September 30th, together with the peer review draft and reviewer’s comments Post an electronic copy of the final paper to your Learn@UW Dropbox September 30th. In addition, submit the actual files from the bibliography you used. These files should be obtained/stored as pdf files, placed in the Dropbox and e-mailed to your TA, also on September 30th. Late submissions will get no credit. Library Workshop The library signup sheets are located on the Biocore Bulletin Board on the third floor of Noland. NOTE: Before you come to the workshop, be sure to complete the tutorial at Please print out the completed tutorial and hand in to your workshop instructor at Steenbock Library. You need to hand it in to earn 10 pts.


Next. and give any background that the reader needs to understand the issues. and submit a hard copy of your paper. (Assume that the policy-makers are educated non-scientists) Finally. Include an informative title—describing topic and position Address your audience by describing who this report is for and why it was requested. Font size is 11 or 12.Requirements: 1. explain the evidence and reasoning that have led you to your position. together with the peer review you received for your paper to your TA. 3. Follow the Biocore Writing Manual guidelines for citations and references. logical arguments. style and grammar. Begin with a description of the question or situation you are about to address. summarize the issues relevant to that problem (for example. Your position must be supported with scientific evidence gathered from at least 4 peer reviewed articles from the primary literature. and state the position that you will be supporting. however both types of paper stress logic and clarity. 2 . Paper must use 1. following the schedule on page 1 4. formatting. You must complete a peer review. 2. and include them in a list of references at the end. Cite the sources of information for specific supporting evidence within the body of the paper. and credible information from other sources. Use subheadings to add emphasis to the different sections of your paper. following the schedule on page 1. You must also post an electronic copy of your final paper and your bibliography files to the Dropbox. Your paper may not be more than 3 to 4 pages in length. provide different sides of an issue).5 line spacing. Format The format for this paper is different from that used for experimental research reports in scientific journals and emphasized in Biocore 302.

and vocabulary introduced in class Position is stated clearly Position makes sense/is logical and is supported by sufficient and convincing evidence and explanation appropriate to the audience Organization and Clarity Title accurately describes the topic of the report Language is clear. Leads the reader logically through the issues and recommendations Each point of argument is backed by evidence Each main point is accurately and adequately explained.Criteria that will be used to evaluate your paper: Overall Shows understanding of the relevant issues Shows evidence of careful thought. Avoids unnecessary verbiage and unnecessary repetition. illustrated. and grammar Sources properly cited in body of paper Reference section properly prepared and complete Possible Topics Restoration Ecology • Should fire be used as a management tool in prairies. reason. especially butterflies? Is the use of herbicides to control invasive exotics in the best interest of ecosystems? Is the use of biological agents to control pest species in the best interests of ecosystems? Does the origin of plant materials for a restoration matter? • • • (more topics listed on the next page) 3 . punctuation. and supported Main idea of each paragraph is clear. concepts. models. Correct spelling. ideas within a paragraph are related Each point is clearly related to the topic being addressed Technical Concise. straightforward. given the danger to wildlife. sentence structure. and common sense throughout Shows evidence of being able to correctly apply the theories. and precise throughout (but free of excessive jargon.

if so. how? Should hunting and trapping be allowed in all of Wisconsin’s Natural Area Preserves? Should all of Wisconsin’s Natural Area Preserves be open for public use at all times? Should seed collecting be allowed in nature preserves? What. but not others? Should roads or trails be allowed in natural conservation areas? • • • • • • • • • • • • 4 .Conservation Biology and Environmental Management • Do genetically modified salmon pose a threat to native populations? • • Is wildlife relocation a good strategy for saving endangered species? Is the best approach to the management of wildlands. should be done about the following invasive species? o Purple Loosestrife o Mute Swan o Asian Carp (Bighead and Silver) o Emerald Ash Borer o Kudzu Should invasive shrubs be removed if doing so will diminish songbird bird habitat? Should wetlands be returned to the mouth of the Mississippi River. and. if anything. to the extent that they existed 150 years ago? Is captive breeding of endangered species an effective conservation tool or a good use of resources? Is the reintroduction of endangered species to former parts of their range an effective conservation tool or a good use of resources? Should grazing be allowed in natural area conservation areas? Should some species be allowed to graze. always a “non-intervention” approach? What can be done to prevent the “mega” wildfires of the western United States? Should urban geese populations be controlled.

• Is the removal of a mature forest in the best interest of conservation. and what. a pest that affects the Christmas tree industry. if anything should be done to control them: o The snakehead fish in Florida o The cane toad in Australia o The Japanese beetle in the United States From an ecological environmental perspective. without causing damage to the environment? Should wolf hunting be permitted in Yellowstone National Park? • • • • • 5 . What are the environmental ecological impacts? What is the role of GMO corn? What should be done about cheat grass in California. what are the pros and cons of the State of Wisconsin allowing: o A sandhill crane hunt o A wolf hunt o A mourning dove hunt • • • • • • • • Discuss the ecological impact of each of the following. a species that is suspected to affect fire regimes in California? What should be done to control the wooly adelgid bug. should deep-ocean oil drilling continue in the world’s oceans? Are fertilizer application limits an effective way to improve water quality? Could biofuels lead to an improvement in environmental quality and biodiversity? Are organic farms more ecologically sustainable than conventionally managed farms? From an ecological environmental perspective. if we know that the site was covered by prairie historically? From an ecological environmental perspective. should the Asian oyster be released in Chesapeake Bay? Discuss honeybee colony collapse disorder. should salt be used to de-ice roads in winter? How should “herd culling” be used (if at all) by the state to regulate the white-tail deer population? From a scientific perspective.

should they be controlled at all? Considering the Future in Light of Climate Change: • Considering current models of the future climate in the Madison area. and what. why the climate is causing a change.• What are the environmental ecological consequences of raising or lowering the levels of Madison-area lakes? What levels are optimum. and ecosystem processes of the natural communities of Wisconsin change over the next 100 years? How is climate change affecting: Marine Mammals Blue green algae Malaria Sea turtles Summarize what we know. how might the composition. structure. if anything can or should be done • 6 .

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