Eric L. Walters

Assistant Professor

Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University





BIOL 422 / 522 Field Studies in Ornithology (Previously taught: Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016; next taught Fall 2018)

Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 4 hours; 4 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL 291 (Ecology), 292 (Evolution) or permission of the instructor. A combined lecture and field study of birds with emphasis on identification, behavior, and field methods. Extensive field trips, including at least two Saturdays, are taken. Students will write grant proposals, give presentations, read peer-reviewed literature, and conduct real world assignments that will prepare them for a career as a wildlife biologist or ornithologist. By the end of the class, students will be able to identify any species of bird found in Virginia.


The class meets every Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesdays are the field day and field trips depart ODU at 0600 hrs and return by 1100 hrs. If Tuesday is canceled because of weather, we reconvene on Thursdays at 0600 hrs. If you are not a morning person, please do not sign up for this course. You will be out in the field each week where you will encounter inclement weather, biting insects, ticks, and you are likely to get dirty. If you are a fair weather biologist, this course is definitely not for you.


In preparation for the class, please make sure you have a bird field guide and a pair of binoculars. Compact binoculars are not too useful. Good hiking boots or rubber boots would also be an asset when we travel to muddy and wet areas.

BIOL 445/545 Community Ecology (Previously taught: Fall 2013, Fall 2015; Next taught: Fall 2017)

Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. Prerequisite: BIOL 291 or equivalent. The goal of this course is to introduce and evaluate both classical and emerging paradigms in community ecology. This will be achieved by examining those processes (biotic and abiotic) that structure ecological communities, and by exposing students to quantitative and theoretical aspects of these paradigms.

BIOL 708/808 Modern Topics in Statistics for Ecologists (Previously taught: Spring 2016)

Lecture 1 hour; 1 credit. The course will cover a mix of beginner and intermediate analytical techniques, from both an applied (hands-on in R and reading papers) and theoretical (reading papers) perspective. The first half of the course will focus on R basics and discussion of Information Theory and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) topics. For the second half of the course, students will choose a technique or topic that they are interested in, choose a paper that describes that technique/topic, and lead a discussion and beginner demonstration (in R, if applicable) on the topic. Possible topics could include: Bayesian approaches; a review of basic concepts such as probability and distributions; occupancy modelling; PCA or other ordination techniques; cross validation; etc., but the specific topics will depend on student interest and level of knowledge. Course website


BIOL 708/808 Statistical Misuse in Modern Ecology (Previously taught: Fall 2013)

Lecture 1 hour; 1 credit. This seminar class will examine various misuses of statistical concepts that modern ecologists continue to make. It will prepare graduate students to recognize when outdated (and typically flawed) statistical approaches should be avoided. Come learn why you should not use Bonferroni corrections,  why stepwise regression is inappropriate, or why non-overlapping error bars do not necessarily indicate statistical significance. The seminar will consist of student-led discussion, based on a list of topics provided by the instructor. Course website



BIOL 759/859 Foundations and Principles in Ecology (Previously taught: Spring 2013, 2014, 2015; Next taught: Spring 2017)

Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits. A survey of the seminal ideas and perspectives in historical and contemporary ecology. The course is designed to provide a broad overview of the important theoretical and conceptual paradigms in ecology. Because I leave for the field in March, the course meets twice per week (6 hrs total) and the class is finished by the end of February. The course requires a lot of reading. Students should expect to read at least 5-10 peer-reviewed articles per week. This course is excellent preparation for comprehensive examinations and it is expected that all first year graduate students in Ecology take the class. Many students are under the false impression that they could merely read the Real and Brown compendium and be good to go. The class goes well beyond simply reading papers and involves presentations on key ecological figures, classic concepts, and contemporary topics. The class emphasizes provenance and allows students to understand key players, debates, and lots of behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt. Course website<password protected>

BIOL 708/808 Ecological Sciences Seminar: Oak Woodland Ecology (Peviously taught: Fall 2012)

Lecture 1 hour; 1 credit. This seminar class will examine various ecological concepts associated with oak woodlands of California and Virginia. The seminar will consist of student-led discussion of the primary literature.

BIOL 405 Senior Seminar (Previously taught: Fall 2011, Spring 2012)

3 hours lecture, 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL 291, 292, 293, and 303 and at least one 300- or 400-level elective. This course offers a capstone experience in scientific writing, faculty-mentored library research, the review and synthesis of material from the primary technical literature, and oral presentation. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the purposes and types of scientific writing, the structure and interpretation of technical papers, and the oral and written communication skills appropriate to the discipline.


Eric L. Walters 2017 All rights reserved.