University of Guelph
College of Biological Sciences
Department of Integrative Biology
Specific topic: Scaling of Physiological Responses in Response to Global Change
General course description
'Special Topics' courses are taught by different faculty each year and the focus will vary
from year to year. Each course offering will be identified as a section with its own title.
This information will appear on your transcript, and this will allow students to participate
in multiple offerings for these courses, since they will be identified as different sections,
covering different course materials.
Course description specific to topic
Increasingly physiologists are being called upon to make sense of data that spans
different levels of biological organization in order to both interpret and predict the effects
of disturbances in the environment. With advances in the omics toolbox, scientists
commonly measure the responses of animals at the molecular and cellular levels of
organization. Similarly, techniques are increasing available to assess animals at higher
levels of organization including organs and tissue responses, whole organism
performance and even responses at the level of populations of organisms. Despite this
deluge of information, it is often challenging to make sense of this data in the context of
understanding: 1) the pathways and process networks are effected by environmental
factors; 2) how to predict the effects of environmental factors on physiological function;
and 3) how to extrapolate the applicability of results in one species to other species and
situations? In this course we will explore these questions in the context of Global Change
Biology which can be defined in the broadest sense as any consistent trend in the
environment - past, present or projected - that affects a substantial part of the globe. In
this context, students will explore the physiological responses of organisms to a range of
stressors such as global climate change, rising tropospheric, ozone, carbon dioxide and
sulphur dioxide concentrations, changing global radiation and stratospheric ozone
depletion or contaminant and pollutant impacts of global relevance. Students will then
use the Adverse Outcomes Pathway approach to organize the data and to help weigh the
evidence in making conclusions of cause and effect relationships and to critically identify
inconsistencies and data gaps.
Glen Van Der Kraak
Office: 3477 SSC
Office hours: drop in
Learning outcomes
By the end of this course, students will:
1) Critically evaluate the quality and significance of primary research papers.
2) Demonstrate advanced scientific writing proficiency.
3) Search and evaluate citation data.
4) Understand the value and responsibilities of peer review and practice peer
5) Demonstrate the ability to organize and present information orally and
engage an audience.
Course schedule: a two-hour time slot once per week Time: TBD
Week (Date)
Week 1 (Jan 7-11_
Class introduction and orientation
Week 2 (Jan 14-18)
AOPs and Weight of Evidence
Week 3 (Jan 21-25)
Presentation 1
Week 4 (Jan 28-Feb 1)
Presentation 1
Week 5 (Feb 4-8)
Presentation 2
Week 6 Feb (11-15
Presentation 2 and Criteria to critically assess the
primary literature
Week 7 Feb (18-22)
Study break No class
Week 8 (Feb 25- March 1)
Critical review of papers
Week 9 (March 4-8)
Critical review of papers
Week 10 (March 11-15)
Feedback on final presentation
Week 11 (March 18-22)
Feedback on final presentation
Week 12 (March 25-29)
Final presentation 1
Wek 13 (April 1-5)
Final presentation 1
There will be a series of assignments that will be assessed:
Presentation 1 and 2; This will include both and oral and written summaries of current
research papers that examine the impacts of Global Change on physiology of animals.
Students will be expected to pick two separate papers that examine how the response to
the selected stressor(s) has been shown to act multiple levels of biological organization.
The emphasis here is on communication skills and how the students can effectively
convey the salient parts of a research being investigated.
Critical review of papers: After receiving instruction in class, students will be expected to
critically evaluate the quality of one of the research papers they have selected using
criteria that evaluate the quality of the methods and the relevance of the response. The
assessment will include both oral and written components.
Final presentation: Students will use the Adverse Outcome Pathway framework to
describe and critically review the evidence that a Global change scenario affects the
physiological fitness of an organism. In conducting the evaluation. The students are
expected to describe the linkages that make up the AOP including:
1. Stressors
2. Molecular Initiating Event
3. Key Events
4. Adverse Outcome
5. Relationships Between Two Key Events
6. Network View
7. Life Stage Applicability
8. Taxonomic Applicability
9. Sex Applicability
From this students will develop an overall assessment of the AOP including:
1. Domain of Applicability
2. Essentiality of the Key Events
3. Weight of Evidence Summary
4. Quantitative Considerations
Methods of assessment
% of Grade
Presentation 1: Oral and written
Presentation 2: Oral and written
Critical review of paper
Adverse Outcome Pathway: Oral and written
Participation, oral communication and professionalism
Course and University Policies
When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement
When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or
compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a
teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact, and be prepared to
provide supporting documentation. See the graduate calendar for information on
regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:
Assignments that are submitted after the deadlines indicated on the assignment will not be
accepted and the distribution of course marks will not be altered for any student unless
Academic Consideration for illness or other compassionate grounds has been approved by
the course instructor.
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This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and
the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning
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ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Centre for Students with
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For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email
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The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic
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much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph
students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic
misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the
responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to
remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other
means of detection.
Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not
relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not
excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before
submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be
construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.
The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Graduate Calendar:
E-mail Communication
As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <> e-mail
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Drop Date
The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is the 40
day. To confirm the actual date please see the schedule of dates in the Undergraduate
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Copies of out-of-class assignments
Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be
asked to resubmit work at any time.
Recording of Materials
Presentations which are made in relation to course workincluding lecturescannot be
recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a
classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that
course unless further permission is granted.
Grading will follow the criteria outlined by the Graduate Calendar and as follows.
Outstanding. The student demonstrated a mastery of the course
material at a level of performance exceeding that of most
scholarship students and warranting consideration for a graduation
A- to A
Very Good to Excellent. The student demonstrated a very good
understanding of the material at a level of performance warranting
scholarship consideration.
Acceptable to Good. The student demonstrated an adequate to
good understanding of the course material at a level of
performance sufficient to complete the program of study.
Minimally Acceptable. The student demonstrated an
understanding of the material sufficient to pass the course but at a
level of performance lower than expected from continuing
graduate students.
An inadequate performance.
Campus Resources
The Academic Calendar is the source of information about the University of Guelph’s
procedures, policies and regulations which apply to undergraduate, graduate and diploma
If you are concerned about any aspect of your academic program:
make an appointment with a program counsellor in your degree program.
If you are struggling to succeed academically:
There are numerous academic resources offered by the Learning Commons
including, Supported Learning Groups for a variety of courses, workshops related to
time management, taking multiple choice exams, and general study skills. You can
also set up individualized appointments with a learning specialist.
If you are struggling with personal or health issues:
Counselling services offers individualized appointments to help students work
through personal struggles that may be impacting their academic performance.
Student Health Services is located on campus and is available to provide medical
For support related to stress and anxiety, besides Health Services and Counselling
Services, Kathy Somers runs training workshops and one-on-one sessions related to
stress management and high performance situations.
If you have a documented disability or think you may have a disability:
The Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD) can provide services and support for
students with a documented learning or physical disability. They can also provide
information about how to be tested for a learning disability. For more information,
including how to register with the centre please see:
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