K. David Hambright



Department of Biology
730 Van Vleet Oval, 304 Sutton Hall
Norman, OK 73019
Phone: (405) 325-7435

Lake Texoma

Ecology of Lakes Laboratory (BIOL 4471)


Ecology of Lakes Laboratory (BIOL 4471): Spring 2014

Instructor: Thayer Hallidayschult (thayer@ou.edu)


Students must be enrolled in the lecture (BIOL 4463) or have taken it previously to be enrolled in the laboratory. Labs will meet weekly on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM and last until 11:20 AM in Richards Hall room 262. We will also have two field trips, in which we will visit the duck pond and Lake Thunderbird. The field trips will occur during regular lab times.


Ecology of Lakes Laboratory goals - By the end of the term, you will have:

  • Learned and used many sampling methods commonly used to study lakes
  • Learned to identify many different taxa of aquatic organisms
  • Gained hands-on experience in experimental design and analysis
  • Practiced critical thinking skills and applied them to topics relevant to the ecology of lakes
  • Become proficient at data management and analysis in Excel
  • Achieved a practical understanding of some of the reasons that lakes are the way they are


Lab structure: At the beginning of the term, the labs will focus on building skills, knowledge, and understanding of limnology. As a consequence, these labs will be more cookbook, with you following along with the worksheet I’ve written. Later in the term, as we develop skills and knowledge, the labs will become more open ended, and I will want your help in choosing precisely what direction we will take. Each lab will have topics, themes and a skeleton to follow, but we will all work together to decide the details. For example, there may be many different types of hypotheses we can test with the materials and methods available to us on that day, and lab will be more interesting, informative, and fun if you play an active role in lab design.



When assigned, all take home assignments will be due the following Tuesday by 8:30 AM at the beginning of lab. I will accept both electronic and hard copies of the lab report, so if you prefer working on your laptop, feel free to save a tree.


Lab 1:              14 Jan: Introduction to the course, and introduction to using Excel with lake data

Lab 2:              21 Jan: Making model lakes in aquaria to figure out how and why lakes stratify

Lab 3:             28 Jan: Learning to analyze lake data using Excel

Lab 4:             04 Feb: Phytoplankton identification, exploring community responses to nutrients

Lab 5:             11 Feb: Field trip to the duck pond to do some hands-on sampling

Lab 6:             18 Feb: Analyzing lake data from Lake Texoma

Lab 7:             25 Feb: Learning to identify zooplankton, exploring live and preserved water samples

Lab 8:             04 Mar: Zooplankton grazing experiment, setting up zooplankton nutrition experiment

Lab 9:              11 Mar: Zooplankton experiment teardown and data analysis

Spr Break:     18 Mar: No Class!

Lab 10:            25 Mar: Exploring size selective predation with fish and (hopefully) Chaoborus

Lab 11:            01 Apr: Part II of analyzing lake data from Lake Texoma

Lab 12:            08 Apr: Discussion of current issues related to the ecology of lakes

Lab 13:            15 Apr: Field trip to Lake Thunderbird

Lab 14:            22 Apr: Experimentally exploring the filtration ability of zebra mussels

Lab 15:            29 Apr: Comprehensive Final Exam (262 Richards Hall)




Grading policy:

Lab reports                  33%

Class Participation       33%

Final Exam                   33%


Note on class participation grade: Grading class participation is a very important and useful tool for a lab like this, but can often be frustrating for students. In order to be as fair as possible, we will work together to develop a strategy that we all agree to for evaluating class participation. Once we have all come to a consensus, I will formalize it and post an updated syllabus which reflects our decisions to D2L. Regardless of what we decide, attending lab is always expected and any unexcused absences or tardiness will negatively affect your participation grade.

Update: as per our discussion, I will keep track of participation based on a tally for each lab, with most of the points coming from discussions I have with you when I check in with you while you are doing the labs, and less emphasis on voluntary discussion and cold-calling.  We will also have 3-4 scheduled check-ins, where we briefly discuss your current participation grade, and address any issues from there.


Cell phone policy: You may use cell phones during lab exercises for class-related reasons (e.g. using the calculator, etc.) However, all phones should be put away while I am lecturing or we are having a discussion, and phones should not be used for reasons unrelated to class (e.g. texting friends about how you’re trapped in ecology of lakes lab). I reserve the right to hold your phone for the remainder of the lab period if your phone usage becomes an issue. Recurring problems with inappropriate phone usage will count against your class participation grade.


General expectations for the lab: As students, I expect you to have already completed any assignment from last week and read over the lab handout before coming to lab. You should arrive at the lab on time with a copy of the lab handout and any other necessary materials, actively participate in the lab, and, as far as it is possible, try to have a pleasant attitude. I’m sure we have all been in labs where we’ve worked with partners who are surly and uncooperative, and it makes lab much more difficult. If you must miss lab for a legitimate reason, I expect you to contact me beforehand when possible, and contact me afterwards ASAP if it is an unforeseen emergency.

            In turn, you can expect me to take every effort to upload all necessary materials to D2L on Friday before lab, but I will let you know if I’m unable to do that. I will arrive at the lab at least 15-30 minutes before lab begins, with all the materials prepared and the lab ready to begin. I will answer emails promptly, and return graded material in a reasonable amount of time, typically by next lab period. Just as I will let you know if you’re not fulfilling my expectations for the lab, you can and should let me know if I’m not fulfilling your expectations for the lab. If you let me know early, it can get fixed for the rest of the term and we will both be happier.


Office Hours: My office is in Sutton 107A. I will have office hours Monday and Wednesday morning, 10-11:30 A.M. I am happy to meet with students at other times as well, so just email me and we will set up a time that works for both of us. I also encourage you to email me with any questions and concerns you may have, and I will do my best to answer emails promptly.


A note on group work and academic honesty: In this lab, you will frequently be working in groups with other students, and you will be sharing a lot of information between one another. However, all assignments are graded individually, and you are expected to write using your own words and understanding of the concepts, even if you are working with another classmate. Unless I specify otherwise, you may not turn in work that is identical or nearly identical to another student’s assignment. OU has a very strict academic honesty policy, and it takes this sort of matter very seriously.

http://integrity.ou.edu/students_guide.html provides a description of the various forms of academic misconduct. If you are at all unsure about what constitutes academic misconduct, make sure you read the guide, because pleading ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for academic misconduct. I am also happy to answer any questions you may have.


Last Modified 11 January, 2019
K.D. Hambright, Department of Biology, 730 Van Vleet Oval, 304 Sutton Hall | Norman, OK 73019 | 405-325-7435 | dhambright@ou.edu