Conservation Biology

Assignment Summary

In this assignment, students will research and write a report on a threatened species of their choice. Students will use primary scientific literature, government websites, and other authoritative sources to describe the species, outline the threat status of the species under international and/or national guidelines, describe the threats that the species faces and what’s been done to mitigate those threats, and formulate further conservation action for the species. Students will submit drafts of their papers in class and will be assigned a peer’s paper to provide constructive review to. Student will then submit a final paper taking into account their peer review.

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Through this assignment, students will acquire an increased understanding of the field of conservation biology through the lens of a threatened species of their choice.

Students will also gain experience with searching for, reading, and interpreting primary scientific literature, in citing appropriate literature, and in providing constructive peer review.


Key Dates (All assignments are due at 9am)

October 3-DRAFT paper due. Must be uploaded to turnitin AND brought printed to class (10 points)

October 10-Feedback for your partner due (10 points)

October 31-FINAL paper due on Turnitin via SacCTAND brought printed to class (80 points, see grading rubric)


Details of the assignment

Choose a threatened species to write about. I recommend you choose a plant or animal and do a search of the IUCN red list to check on the conservation status of that species. Species should have a threat status of Near Threatened or higher (Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild).


Write a 2-3 page paper on the species (~750-1000 words).See the grading rubric for detailed information about how the paper will be graded.

Papers should be typed, with 1.5 line spacing, using Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins. References do not count toward the page minimum/limit or word count.You do not need to include a title page, but be sure your name is on the assignment.

Your paper should include the following:

  1. Describe the biology of the species you are writing about.
    1. Give the common name and scientific name (Genus species) of the organism(s) you select.
    2. What is the range or distribution of the organism? What habitat(s) does it rely upon? Where does it live (include a map and be sure to reference it)? Is it a migratory species?
    3. What is the biology of the organism? How many young, gestation period, etc.? What is the critical part of its life cycle? Does it display special behaviors? What are its predators? What does it eat? If a plant, how does it reproduce?
  2. What is the threat status of the species?
    1. Include information from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)- include a brief definition of what that threat status means.
      1. How was the species previously classified? Has the conservation status been worsening or improving over time?
    2. Include information on any local, national or international threat classification or protection status. In the United States, you should consider CITES, US Endangered Species Act, and any state-wide conservation status (such as the California Endangered Species Act). If the species exists in other countries, look up the threat status of the species in those countries if possible.
  3. What are the threats to this species and what conservation actions are in place?
    1. Why is it listed as threatened or endangered? The most common reasons are loss of habitat, overexploitation, invasion of exotic species, reduced population size, disease and climate change. Give specific details about the scale of the threats (e.g.,If habitat loss is a threat, what percentage of habitat has been lost? Why was the habitat lost? Etc.)
    2. What is currently being done to conserve the species? Are critical habitats protected? Are there laws in place to prevent overexploitation of the species or its resources?
    3. What do you think should be done to help this species? What are key stakeholder groups that need to participate to prevent further declines in the species? What can we as a Sacramento State community or as individuals do to help with the conservation of the species?
  4. Literature Cited (Does not count towards page/word count)
    1. You must provide AT LEAST 3 references to cite the sources you used to produce your report. These citations should be included as in-text citations (e.g. Kross 2016) and listed as the full reference in a literature cited section. This list will give credit to your sources and will give the reader a chance to read more or check on statements. A document containing information about how to include and format references is available on our course SacCT site- follow the formatting instructions carefully.




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