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Course : Araneology Lab

Course Number
BIOL 5743
Section Number
Spring 2023
Bolin Hall, 207
Days & Times
Final Exam Day/Time
Thursday, May 04, 2023 5:30 pm - 7:50 pm

Objectives in the laboratory:

  • Learn spider morphology
  • Learn to identify spiders to species level
  • Construct a properly curated spider collection
  • Promotion of field experience
  • Observe spider behavior
  • Locate spiders in the variety of microenvironments they occupy
  • Develop taxonomic skills in the use of dichotomous keys
  • Become more exposed to primary scientific literature
  • Hone skills in microscopy 

Class Prerequisite:  Graduate standing or consent of the instructor.


Class Requirements:  This class contains both a lecture and lab component to it. Spider collection required. This collection constitutes the main focus of the laboratory. Field collection of live specimens will be made and will be subsequently preserved, brought to the lab, identified to the level of species, and properly curated for submission. Upon submission, your spider collection will be retained by the Department of Biology.


Paper Presentation:  You will be required to give a 15-minute oral presentation over any arachnid-related paper (or collection of papers) on your choice of such topics as behavior, physiology, evolution, paleontology, taxonomy, biological control, etc. Please try to focus on more recent research to enlighten the class concerning more current topics in arachnology. A handout that includes an abstract of your presentation and citation of the article(s) that you are presenting should be prepared to give to your instructor and pass out to all class members on the day of your presentation. Make sure you are prepared to answer questions about your presentation topic. You are also expected to listen and ask questions when others give their presentations. In order to prevent duplications, please inform the instructor of your title as soon as you have decided on the topic/article that you want to use for your presentation.

Exams:  There will be three lab exams and one lecture exam that collectively will comprise 50% of your overall grade for the class.  The single lecture exam will be a comprehensive final exam over material primarily from the lecture textbook. This exam will consist of various types of testing formats (i.e. multiple choice, matching, true/false, fill in the blank, listing, drawing/labeling, and short answer). The three lab exams will consist of a spider anatomy exam, family identification exam and a final lab exam that involves keying down spider specimens to the species level. See “Course Grading” for a breakdown of what each testing component is worth. DO NOT MISS AN EXAM!!!!  Academic honesty must be practiced at all times. Any instances of academic dishonesty may result in a zero being assigned for a test or assignment and repeated dishonesty can result in an F as a final course grade.

Spider Collection: Students will be awarded 5 points for the 1st representative of each correctly identified family, 3 points for the first representative of each correctly identified genus, and 4 points for each correctly identified species of spider. The total number of points possible is unlimited (on average, about 350 points will usually earn an A). Points will be deducted for improper curation. Grade assignment on collections will vary due to seasonal fluctuation that affects availability of specimens.

Course Grading:  The following is a breakdown of your final course grade:

   Anatomy Exam                                        =  5%                                                  

   Family Identification Exam                       =10%                  

   Final Lab Exam (Key to Species)             =20%                                       

   Spider Collection                                      =40%                    

   Lab Grade total                                       =75%

   Paper Presentation                                   =10%

   Lecture Final Exam                                   =15%       

   Lecture Grade total                                 =25%      

   Lab Grade (75%) + Lecture Grade (25%) totals  =  Total Course Grade 100%

   The grading scale used to determine your letter grade for the course is as follows:

                                           A             =              90-100%

B             =              80-89%

C             =              70-79%

D             =              60-69%

F              =              below 60%

Class Attendance:  You are expected to attend all classes and utilize all of the scheduled time wisely.  The majority of this class entails you working with spiders directly with the aid of a microscope. A lot of time is required and devoted to the identification of spiders that you will be collecting on your own and as a class.

Late submission of spider collection will result in a 25 point deduction per day. Make sure you turn in your collection on time!!

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

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As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

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We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

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