Ecological Restoration

I.     Course Prefix/Number: BIO 107

       Course Name: Ecological Restoration

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 3 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Laboratory course provides a broad overview of ecological restoration principles and practices by exploring the plant and animal communities found on Oakton’s campus and learning practices for restoring them to ecological health. Activities emphasize identifying and learning about native plant and animal communities and the natural and artificial processes that affect their survival, reproduction, and population dynamics. Students will participate in identifying species and assemblages; monitoring plant and animal populations; collecting and mapping spatial data; managing invasive plants; and revegetating land with seeds and plantings.
Recommended: One year of high school biology.

IV.   Learning Objectives

After successfully completing this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Assess the major plant and animal communities and ecosystems of northeastern Illinois as represented on Oakton’s campus.
  2. Analyze how humans have disturbed the area’s ecology by fragmenting habitats, suppressing fire, altering hydrology and soils, and introducing invasive species.
  3. Devise specific management objectives and plans for ecological restoration
  4. Apply key concepts of ecological restoration including responses to disturbance, keystone species, the importance of biodiversity, and the role of natural processes such as fire in ecological management to specific natural areas on Oakton’s campus.
  5. Communicate effectively with the public about protecting and restoring nature through presentations and diverse modes of writing.
  6. Critique popular myths and ideas such as “left alone, nature will heal itself.”
  7. Demonstrate a range of skills and techniques needed to restore ecosystem health through hands-on field work, including:
    1. Reading the landscape
    2. Monitoring plant and animal populations and communities
    3. Integrated Pest Management techniques (cultural, mechanical, chemical and prescribed fire)
    4. Spatial analysis for natural resource management (GIS/GPS)
    5. Harvesting, cleaning, mixing and sowing native plant seeds
    6. Greenhouse and nursery propagation of native plants
    7. Planting and re-vegetating degraded natural areas
    8. Wildlife management, species reintroductions
    9. Leading volunteers and managing contractors
    10. Discussing careers in conservation and natural areas management
    11. Researching and writing an ecological restoration management plan


By the completion of your biology courses at Oakton, you will have gained the experience to.....

  1. Think critically – identify, define, analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas, concepts, information, problems, solutions, and consequences. This includes the ability to compute and comprehend quantitative information and to engage in the scientific process.
  2. Communicate – communicate ideas, concepts, and information through written and oral means. Collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
  3. Demonstrate literacy – demonstrate the ability to read critically within content areas. Use technology to locate, evaluate, and communicate data, information, ideas, and concepts. Assess, critique, and select from a variety of information resources.
  4. Demonstrate responsibility – demonstrate an understanding of personal responsibility and ethical behavior in one’s own academic and civic life.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

Sample Lecture Outline (will vary depending on Academic Term and Schedule of Course). Example is for a Spring, 8-week Late Start Course:

Week and Unit

Topics Work due

Field Work and Workshop Topics

Week 1 – Unit 1

Introductions, syllabus, course overview,
Oakton’s natural areas

Reading the Landscape, Oakton’s natural areas, Human impacts

Week 1 – Unit 2

Management planning; conservation leaders, organizations

Land use, wetland and riparian ecosystems,
Management plans

Week 2 – Unit 3

Restoration techniques, best management practices

Greenhouse and nursery/seed workshop,
Restoration practices - seeds

Week 2 – Unit 4

Fire-dependent ecosystems

Burn plan and site analysis, Prescribed burn workshop

Week 3 – Unit 5

Prairie ecosystems

Kloempken Prairie visit, Prairies

Week 3 – Unit 6

Woodland and savanna ecosystems

Oakton’s woodlands, Woodlands

Week 4 – Unit 7

Wetland ecosystems

Oakton’s wetlands, Wetlands

Week 4 – Unit 8

Restoring Woodlands
Integrated Pest Management

Invasive plant control, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), herbicide workshop

Week 5 – Unit 9

GPS/GIS for Natural Resources

GPS/GIS workshop, Mapping communities

Week 5 – Unit 10

Special situations – ravines, ROW’s, wildlife corridors

Spring ephemerals, Restoration - special situations

Week 6 – Unit 11

Wildlife ecology

Oakton’s wildlife, Animal ecology

Week 6 – Unit 12

Watersheds and Floods

Arboretum and Lake Oakton, Watershed and flooding workshop

Week 7 – Unit 13

Restoration ecology research and practice

Plant monitoring workshop, Research/scientific articles workshop

Week 7 – Unit 14

Soils, mycology, composting and bioremediation

Soils workshop

Week 8 – Unit 15

Careers in ecological restoration and conservation

Careers in ecological restoration

VII.  Methods of Instruction

The course will be presented via three hours of lecture and three hours of lab each week.  The course will also feature audio-visual media, class discussion, quizzes, exams, extensive outdoor workshops/field labs, data analysis, and plant and animal species classification.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

May vary depending on instructor, but students are expected to:

  • attend all lecture periods
  • participate in class discussion
  • read assigned materials as scheduled
  • take thorough notes in lecture and field study experiences
  • perform other assignments as scheduled

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Text: Packard, Stephen G. and Cornelia Mutel, The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook, 2nd Edition. Island Press, 2004.
Chicago Wilderness, Atlas of Biodiversity, available online
Native plant field guide – student’s choice
Other journal articles and materials as assigned, available online
Reference on reserve: Swink, Floyd and Gerould Wilhelm, Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th Ed., Indiana Academy of Sciences, 1994, or Wilhelm, Gerould and Riricha, Laura, Flora of the Chicago Region, Indiana Academy of Sciences, 2017

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

May vary depending on instructor, but may include:

  • attendance at all class sessions
  • satisfactory classroom and laboratory participation
  • submission of all written assignments on time and in proper format
  • attainment of passing grades on examinations, quizzes, and homework assignments

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.