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Bio 405: Introduction to Field Biology Laboratory

Scientific methods and experimental design. Intensive field research conducted during spring break at the Archbold Biological Station in Florida. Design, implement, analyze your own research project. Travel to ecosystems discussed in class.


Now accepting applications for Spring 2019!!

Fill out the application form to be considered.
If you have questions about the course, see the FAQs below or contact Dr. Segraves.

Important Course Links

Archbold Biological Station


Photo Galleries

2017 Photos coming soon
2016 Photos
2015-I Photos

2015-II Photos
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2010 Photos
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Click here for an example course syllabus.  Students currently enrolled in Field Biology should access the most up to date version on Blackboard.

Lecture topics

Scientific Method
Experimental Design
Basic Statistics
Field Sampling Methods
Florida and the Lakes Wales Ridge
Coral Reefs

Exam & Quiz Information

An easy way to determine if material is going to be on a quiz or exam is to consider the following questions:

  • Was the material discussed or presented in class?
  • Was the material assigned as homework or reading?
  • Was the material included in an exercise or experiment conducted in class?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the material is fair game for the quiz or exam. With rare exception, I will let you know if something is optional.

The following links are downloadable example questions for each quiz. Quizzes are comprehensive (i.e., all material up to the quiz date is fair game).

Example quizzes
Quiz 1
Quiz 2
Quiz 3
Experimental units examples

Trip Information

The field trip to Archbold Biological Station is required. Students unable to attend the trip must drop the class.

I include a packing list here for students who are planning ahead for the trip. Remember that we will be outside in the field irregardless of the weather!


Is there a course fee?
Yes. The fees range in cost depending on airfare, but are typically from $1050-$1500.

What do the course fees cover?
The fees cover nearly all the expenses of the trip including airfare, housing, travel in Florida, gear rental, and food. It does not cover your breakfast and a few dinners out. Most students spend less than $100 on the trip and this is generally on souvenirs or extra food.

Can I get financial aid?
Need-based financial aid is available. The amount varies depending on the level of aid you currently receive. Please contact the Financial Aid office for details about your specific situation.

How does this course fit into my Biology degree?
For Biology majors, Bio 405 counts as a 3 credit lab (it is actually a 4 credit class), an Ecology & Evolution course, and a Communication Skills course. This course will also provide honors credtis for those students in the Honors Program. Contact your advisor if you have specific questions about the Biology requirements you need to fulfill.

What if I can't swim?
Several activities on the trip require that you be physically in the water. Swimming lessons are strongly recommended.  While you don't have to be a strong swimmer, you should feel comfortable in the water.

I dislike the outdoors, is this the course for me?
No. We will be outside, in all weather conditions for 8-10 hours per day for the duration of the field trip.

I haven't taken any ecology or evolution courses. Can I still enroll?
Yes. Students who have taken Bio 345 and 305 will have an advantage, but if you're willing to put in the time, students with a basic biology background (e.g., have taken intro Bio or AP Biology) will do fine.

Where do we live when we're in Florida?
We'll stay at the Archbold Biological Research Station. The field station has dorms, a cafeteria, and research facilities that we use as our home base.

Will I have cell phone access?

Can my friends and I drive down to the station instead of flying?
No. For legal reasons and the fact that the trip is relatively short, we will all travel together by airplane.

A family member (or friend) lives in Florida. Will I have time to visit?
No. You will be traveling or conducting field research for ~10 hours per day. This will not leave enough time to visit with friends or family.

I'm only a freshman, can I apply?
Definitely! As long as you have taken Intro Bio (Bio 121) or AP Biology, you will do fine.

How do I apply?
Download the Application Form. Use Word to fill it out by clicking on the grey boxes and typing in your information or selecting the appropriate option from the pull down menus. For yes/no answers, simply click on the box by the appropriate response. Email this form along with a copy of your unofficial transcript to Dr. Segraves at ksegrave@syr.edu. Once your application has been received and passed the initial screening, you will be invited for an interview.

The class is closed. How do I register?
Waitlist the class and send in your application materials. When you have been accepted for the class, Billie Trapani will contact you with a permission number to enroll with. She can answer all logistical questions about how to use the permission number to enroll in the class.

Do I need special equipment/gear for the trip?
No. Specialized equipment will be rented. You are welcome, however, to bring your own gear (e.g., snorkel gear). You will need to bring appropriate clothing, jackets, and footwear. See the packing list and the recommended purchase list for lists of suggested items to consider.