Bio 550 (Section 05) 1 cr


E. E. Serrano

January 9-March 20
2:30-3:50 pm
Foster Hall 235

updated 01/09/03 ees


Instructor Dr. Elba Serrano
Ph. D. Stanford University
Associate Professor of Biology, NMSU
Research Interests: Neuroscience, Biophysics, Sensory Systems
Office Foster Hall 337D
Office hours Monday 12:15-1:15 pm and by appointment
Telephone 646-5217
Appointments Sign up on sheet outside FH 337D
OR make appointment for other times via email or phone
  • The Acoustic Sense of Animals (1983),   by William C. Stebbins,  Harvard Univ Press , ISBN: 0674003268
  • The Science of Sound & Music by Levine and Johnstone  (2000),  Sterling Publications  ISBN: 0806971835
  • Additional reading:
  • On reserve in Foster 234
  • Textbook Vendors Textbooks can be obtained at the bookstore or online from vendors such as Amazon and ecampus or Best Book Buys
    Jan 9 Introduction and course organization  
    Jan 16 Introduction to acoustical physics
    Overview of the sense of hearing
    Animal bioacoustics: 
    Terrestrial mammals
  • Before class, complete the Sound Waves Tutorial posted online at The Physics Classroom LINK
  • Stebbins Ch 1, Sound and Hearing
  • Stebbins Ch 5, Terrestrial mammals
  • Kandel et al., Ch 31 Sensory Transduction in the Ear
  • Jan 23 Sound reception  Human ear structure 
    Cochlear structure and function
    Mechanoreception by hair cells 
    Auditory perception Central pathways
  • Zigmond et al. Ch 27, Audition
  • Kandel et al., Ch 30, Hearing
  • Jan 30 Animal bioacoustics: Insects &  fish
  • Stebbins Ch 2, Insects, the audible invertebrates
  • Stebbins Ch 3, The enigmatic fishes

    Feb 6 Animal bioacoustics: 
    Amphibians, reptiles &  birds
  •  Stebbins Ch 4, Amphibians, reptiles &  birds
  • Feb 13
  • Animal bioacoustics:
    Aerial &  aquatic mammals
  •  Stebbins Ch 6 Aerial &  aquatic mammals
  • Feb 20 Animal bioacoustics:
  •  Stebbins Chapter 7, The discriminating primates
  • Feb 27 Inner ear development
  • TBA
  • Mar 6 Evolution of the inner ear
  • TBA 
  • Mar 13 Hearing loss: Environment &  genetics
  • TBA
  • Mar 20 Frontiers of auditory neuroscience: Perception of music 
    Sound therapy
  • TBA 
  • May 8 Final 3:30-5:30 pm  

    Earning your grade:
    In class participation: (300 pts) Based on your contribution to class discussion, and activities as presenter,
    Grade Scale:
    A 90-100 %
    B 80-89 %
    C 70-79 %
    D 60-69 %
    F < 60 %
    S (Satisfactory) requires a B-
    Note: The grade scale may be curved at the end of the semester at the discretion of the instructor.
    Late assignments. 10% of the total points will be deducted for each week the assignment is late. Assignments will not be accepted if handed in more than 2 weeks after the due date.
    Attendance: Debate and discussion are essential components of this class, therefore, students are expected to attend all classes except for a documented university business, medical emergency etc.  Documentation must be submitted if you are absent and it is best to inform the instructor in advance if possible if you will need to  miss class.
    25 points will be deducted from your overall points for each unexcused absence.
    S/U Option: Students must meet all requirements of the course.  A grade of C- is required  to receive an S in an Honors course.

    Withdrawals: It is your responsibility to withdraw from the course. The instructor will not automatically drop you from the course for failure to attend class or to complete exams or assignments.

    Incompletes, academic misconduct, and make-up work:  Incompletes will be given only if a student has passed the first half of the course and is precluded from completing the course by a documented illness or family crisis.  Make-ups of assignments for excused absences must be discussed with the instructor within one week of the due date of the assignment. There are no provisions for extra credit work.  The penalty for plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct (as defined in the Student Code of Conduct) is failure of the course: no exceptions.

    Important dates:

    Mar 20         Term paper  due

    Exam week:  Final exam Class will meet for two hours May 8

    GUIDELINES FOR CLASS DISCUSSION: During the semester,  opinions will be voiced in the class. You may strongly disagree with some of these, or you may find them amusing. Outbursts can be misinterpreted or counterproductive to meaningful and thoughtful debate. Therefore, it is important that you exercise self-discipline and self-control, and treat all members of the class with the courtesy that you are entitled to receive in turn. The key words are: respect and courtesy. Please turn off cell phones and beepers while in class.       Thank you!

    SYLLABUS MODIFICATION: The instructor reserves the right to modify this syllabus during the semester as considered necessary to enhance the quality of the instruction, to meet the needs of students in the class and to achieve course objectives. Any changes to the syllabus [or to the course schedule] will be announced in class and you are responsible for being aware of them.

  • STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES:   Additional information is available at
  • If you have or believe you have a disability and would benefit from any accommodations, you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office  located at Garcia Annex (phone: 646-6840).
  • If you have already registered, please make sure that your instructor receives a copy of the accommodation memorandum from SSD within the first two weeks of classes.  It is your responsibility to inform either your instructor or SSD representative in a timely manner if services/accommodations provided are not meeting your needs.
  • If you have a condition which may affect your ability to exit safely from the premises in an emergency or which may cause an emergency during class, you are encouraged to discuss any concerns with the instructor and/or Ms. Jane Spinti, SSD Coordinator.
  • Feel free to call Ms. Elva Telles (EEO/ADA and Employee Relations Director) at 646-3333 with any questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  All medical information will be treated confidentially.
  • XEROX and/or BACKUP all assignments before submitting them to the instructor.

    SAVE xeroxes of all graded assignments and exams from this course at least until you have received your final grade.

    BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT :     The  Department Chair is  Dr. Laura Huenneke. The Department office is in Foster 234, 646-3611

    ont face="Arial Narrow">SAVE xeroxes of all graded assignments and exams from this course at least until you have received your final grade.

    BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT :     The  Department Chair is  Dr. Laura Huenneke. The Department office is in Foster 234, 646-3611