Forest Biology and Dendrology

FOR 2314 Syllabus


Dr. Seiler

Dr. John Seiler

(540) 231-5461

230J Cheatham Hall

Office Hours: Any time, unless I am in class, a meeting, or out of town.


Forest Biology and Dendrology lecture is taught with the understanding that each enrollee has previously taken freshman biology. Should you not meet this requirement, it is necessary that you obtain consent of the instructor. Please do so during the first week of class.

Course Objectives

The course objectives are to provide the student of forestry a basic understanding of the biology of trees. This includes knowledge of their morphology, anatomical and reproductive attributes, patterns of variability, species associations, silvical characteristics, and basic physiological processes important to tree growth and management.

Expectations of Students


The course grade will be determined by three formal exams: Wednesday, September 23, Monday, October 26, and a comprehensive final exam Monday, December 14, 3:25 a.m. to 5:25 p.m.. The first two exams will count 25% each, and the final exam will be worth 30% of your course grade. The final exam will primarily cover material from the last third of the semester, but a few questions will test your comprehensive understanding of tree biology. A paper will be required, and it will count as 10% of the final grade, due on November 2. Four announced quizzes will be given, which will account for the remaining 10% of the grade. Final grades will be based on the following breakdown:

Numerical GradeCourse Grade
93 or aboveA
59 or belowF

The Virginia Tech Honor system is in effect at all times. More information on the Honor system


Your class textbook is available as a web app. You will have an opportunity on the first day of class to sign up for access to the web app.

Documented Paper

Writing is going to be a major part of what you do during your careers. One of the best ways to become a better writer is to practice. During your careers you will be asked to provide brief reports on a wide variety of topics. For this assignment, you are to choose a topic which addresses the broad area of tree biology. The specific topic you choose may deal with an aspect of pathology, entomology, urban forestry, ecology, genetics, physiology, or silviculture, but must relate to trees.

Your term paper organization can be whatever you want. Be sure your headings and subheadings make a contribution to your presentation, and include a separate title page. Please just staple your pages together. There is no need to use a binder.

Your paper can be no more than four typed (double-spaced) pages. You must have a minimum of three pages (exclusive of literature citations and title page).

The paper will be graded using the following criteria:

  1. Technical depth and accuracy.
  2. Literature cited (scientific journal articles will be preferred over "popular" and lay-book references). Five technical references are expected.
  3. General readability and audience suitability.

Audience: Assume you are writing an article for a publication that is read by an audience composed of well-educated lay professionals, woodlot owners and landowners, and professional foresters (including industrial, non-industrial, and urban foresters). 

Outline: As a preliminary exercise, you should prepare a topic prospectus. This should be in the form of an outline. This will help you focus on a specific thesis and force you to organize your paper. A good prospectus will set the boundaries of discussion, allowing you to do a credible job in the space limitations of the assignment. Major topic headings in your outline will likely be the major headings in your paper.

Due Dates: TBA

Should you have questions or need guidance during the preparation of your paper, please contact me.

The Virginia Tech Honor system is in effect at all times.