FANR 3800 – Spatial Analysis for Natural Resources (Fall 2018)

Spatial Analysis for Natural Resources Syllabus – Fall 2018


Dr. Tripp Lowe (
Office: WSFNR 4-514 (542-1074)
Office Hours:
Teaching Assistants:

Karuna Paudel
Office: Warnell
Office Hours: TBA

Tabby Phillips
Office: Warnell
Office Hours: TBA

Meeting Times:

Class: Building 1 Room 304, MW 8:00 – 8:50am

Labs: Building 4 Room 419, W 1:25 – 5:25pm or Th 2:00 – 6:00pm

Student Course Goals:

The purpose of this 3-credit class is to familiarize students with the technologies and methods used to collect, manage, analyze, and display spatial data commonly used by natural resource professionals. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Understand fundamental concepts of geographic information systems (GIS), including spatial data structures, map projections, and coordinate systems
  2. Understand basic principles and use of aerial photography, satellite remote sensing, and global positioning systems data
  3. Create spatial datasets through air photo interpretation and GPS surveys
  4. Use ArcGIS software to import spatial data, create custom maps, query spatial databases, and perform basic spatial analyses
  5. Apply GIS techniques and methods to address real-world natural resource, ecology, and management issues
  6. Understand how and when geospatial data and techniques would improve understanding of a research or management question.
  7. Be able to converse with others about the utility of geospatial analysis in your field of study
  8. Be able to assist others with the use and application of geospatial data

Text and Equipment:

Introductory video:

Example video: Audubon and ArcGIS

1) Required reading: Bolstad, P. 2015. GIS Fundamentals: A first text on geographic information systems, 5th Edition. Available at the University Bookstore,, and Pages for each class session are listed in the class schedule.

2) Highly Recommended: External Flash Drive (>16 GB) to store your materials

3) PDFs of all lectures and ancillary readings are posted to ELC (  Training for ELC is available here:

4) During this course you will be loaned other equipment (GPS units, surface tablets). Equipment that is lost or damaged must be replaced at your expense or you will receive a grade of Incomplete in the course.

Note: The course syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary and will be announced in class. All lecture and lab material, discussion materials, ancillary readings, and important class communications will be posted on ELC. Lab documents and Spatial data will be located on the Warnell Class Network drive in the folder FANR3800, ELC, and/or external links provided by the instructor.


  • Knowledge Quizzes (4) + Final Exam video tasks and the two final exam questions 25%
  • Lab Practical Tests (4) 25%
  • Lab Reports (at least 10) 30%
  • In-Class FlipGrid Video Responses & In-Class Assignments 20%

There will be 5 Knowledge Quizzes this semester.  Four of the quizzes will be administered during the scheduled class lecture time and will test your comprehension of material delivered during lecture and during lab.  I have split your 5th quiz (traditionally your final exam) into two parts.  The first part is a series of short videos you create to document the 38 common tasks I list HEREYou will upload these videos to the class ELC FinalExamVideos assignment folder.  You have until 11:59pm on November 30, 2018 to submit your videos.  These videos will make up 50% of your quiz 5 grade.  The second part will be administered during the course’s scheduled final exam period and will comprise the other 50% of your quiz 5 grade.

You will have 4 Practical Lab Tests throughout the semester – these may or may not be in addition to that week’s lab.  You will also be responsible for at least 10 Lab Reports this semester. Each lab report will be assigned a percentage grade from 0-100 (based on a ratio of correct points to total points, which may vary), and the lab grades will be averaged together to produce the final lab report grade.

To encourage participation among all during class, the remainder of your course grade will be derived from in-class activities and assignments.  You will be required to submit short videos via FlipGrid in response to questions either posed verbally during lecture and/or lab.  Your video responses and in-class lecture assignments will comprise the final 20% of your course grade.

While the lecture and lab sections are listed separately, you will receive the same grade for each based on the percentages above.

FlipGrid and Other Video Assignments

There is no need to sign up for a FlipGrid student account. Our FANR 3800 FlipGrid site is and the password is fanr3800. I will provide a direct link and password for each assignment that will allow you to access the current topic’s upload portal.

Your videos will be graded using the following rubric:

When assessing your videos, we will look for the following:

  • Video Quality: Make sure the video is stable, that we can see your face while and we can clearly hear your answer.
  • Purpose Statement: I expect you to begin each video with an explanation of the video you are creating. I want your explanation to be in context of the (or a relevant) natural resource management question or practice.
  • Knowledgeable Response: I expect you to answer the question (or address the management issue) completely. I also expect the information you present is correct.
  • Response: Your video submissions will account for no less than 20% of the current assignment. I expect that you take time and plan your video response. You will be penalized for submitting a video in which you appear to be unprepared to answer. You will also be penalized for using filler words like, um, and, and any others.
  • Professionalism: I expect that you present yourself in a professional manner on all videos you submit. You will receive no credit for any submission that contains profane language (three-letter, four-letter, and all in-between; I will be the judge). You will also be penalized 3 points if you do not adhere to the “professional standards” discussed and decided upon on the first day of class.


Final Course Grade:

Your final course grade will be a weighted average of the grades using the percentages shown above. Grades will be assigned as follows: 94-100 = A, 90-93 = A-, 87-89 = B+, 83-86 = B, 80-82 = B-, 77-79 = C+, 73-76 = C, 70-72 = C-, 60-69 = D, < 60 = F. Grades are rounded to the nearest whole number (89.5 rounds up to 90 for an A- or 3.7, 89.4 rounds down to 89 for a B+ or 3.3). Common questions regarding the new UGA ‘+’ and ‘–’ grading policy are addressed at

Attendance & Participation:

Attendance is expected and is important in gaining an understanding of the material and an ability to apply the techniques you will be learning.

Class Periods:

Lecture (M & W 8-850): Lecture periods, held in Building 1 room 304, will introduce new material related to the weekly topic. After the first week, generally we will review last week’s materials on Mondays and introduce new material on Mondays (if time permits) and Wednesdays. These sessions take place in Building 1 room 304. Lab reports are due by midnight the Sunday following lab. During the Monday lecture period, be prepared to discuss the previous week’s lab.  I expect you to be able to participate in the discussion. Dr. Lowe and/or the TA’s will call on students to show their work each week to illustrate specific points that come up in the review.

Because we only have 50 minutes, I expect you to be ready to begin lecture at 8:00am.

Lab period (Wednesday 125-525 OR Thursday 2-6):  Labs are designed to have students will work semi-independently through lab documents to answer specific questions using the tools and concepts introduced that week. As this material builds on previous material (both the concepts and the techniques within the ArcGIS software), it is ESSENTIAL that you do not fall behind. It is expected that you will have read the assigned readings PRIOR to attending lab.

Your participation in class and lab activities will directly transfer into your understanding and ability to use and apply your knowledge to novel situations. In addition, you will learn a lot by helping others; however, we expect that lab assignments are a representation of YOUR OWN work and copying the answers from another student or directly from the book/internet without proper attribution is PLAGARISM, and will not be tolerated.

Lab and Lecture times are when we (the instructor and TAs) are available to help you with the material. We also have set aside office hours and are available for making appointments to discuss the material on a one-on-one or small group setting. Please do not make appointments to see us individually as a substitute for missing class, lab or doing the readings. If you know that you will be unable to attend a class or lab due to a legitimate conflict, you should contact the instructor or teaching assistant before the class/lab.

Course Time/Effort Expectations: The material covered in this class, as with all classes, requires significant time outside of class to explore the skills we will cover. Because the implementation of GIS consists of often-obtuse software, the best way to learn this material and how ArcGIS implements GIS concepts is to:

  1. come to class/lab
  2. ask questions of the instructor and TA’s
  3. ask questions of your fellow students – often, fellow students will be your biggest asset since they are figuring it out as well
  4. stay current with lectures, readings, exercises as we will cover a lot of material and it all builds upon itself
  5. don’t work alone – I have found that students working alone often get stuck on problems that are easy to solve by myself or others and instead end up spending a lot of extra time and get very frustrated. This last point cannot be overstressed, so plan accordingly.

Class Policies:

1. All academic work must meet the standards contained in “A Culture of Honesty.” Students are responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any academic work. Violations of the policy will be vigorously pursued and prosecuted. The link to more detailed information about academic honesty can be found at

2. Copying of any work that will be turned in for the course will NOT be tolerated. Students are encouraged to work together, but all work that is turned in must be completed by the individual. Copied work will receive a grade of zero for both the original and copy.

3. This course is taught on computers. This is both so you may more easily follow along, but it is primarily so that you may gain hands on experience with examples in lectures in addition to labs. With this opportunity come responsibilities on the part of the students. For one it requires that each and every one of you do not stray from the lecture material – checking email, chat, etc. is not allowed during these periods. The instructor reserves the right to turn off your computer if you are clearly distracted or distracting to others.

4. Uncovered drink, food, and tobacco products are not allowed in the lecture room or the lab room. Labs are long and if you need a break, please take one, being courteous to others as you come and go from the lab room. Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off or silenced in class and lab.

5. Make up exams will be given only if a valid, documented excuse for your absence (i.e., serious illness, death in the family, etc.) is provided within 24 hours after an exam is given. A missed exam without an acceptable, timely excuse will receive a grade of zero.

6. Lab documents will only be available digitally – there is ample room on the computer screens to have both the lab document and your GIS data open. Please do not print copies of the lab yourself unless you wish to print the final corrected version that will be returned to you on ELC. Warnell is trying to reduce the waste of paper and ink that occurs in our School.

7. Labs are due digitally uploaded to ELC by midnight the Sunday following lab. Labs will be time-stamped when they are uploaded by you. Late labs will not be accepted. Be sure your name is on the assignment and that the file name includes your last name. Ten points will be deducted from your grade if your name is not on the lab document or the file name does not include your last name. Example and preferred format for a file name: Lowe_Lab1.

8. Lecture and lab material, course communication, and grades will be posted on ELC. Lecture and lab materials will be posted at least one day before for you to review.

9. Please arrive in the GIS lab at least 5 minutes before class/lab begins. If your bus gets you to class at 8:02, take an earlier bus. It is disrespectful to the instructor/TA and your fellow students to arrive late.

Field Exercises: We will have at least one lab, maybe more, field lab exercises where you will complete in a group or alone at a time and location of your choosing. When going into the field, please: 1) wear appropriate field dress includes long pants and sturdy shoes, preferably boots; and 2) know that many areas used have healthy populations of ticks and chiggers, abundant poison ivy, and the occasional venomous snake, so act accordingly.

Guidelines for Completing Lab Reports and Quizzes:

1. You will be submitting digital Word documents for all lab documents whereas Lecture Quizzes generally will be printed. Answers to all questions must comprehensible. It is not enough for you to know the answer – you must be able to effectively communicate it in writing. Please use full sentences to respond to questions on labs and exams; it will help you to understand what the question is asking. Writing a complete sentence requires more planning and thought than just dashing off a quick phrase, and helps to ensure that you have communicated your ideas effectively. On most (if not all) lab documents, we have provided an answer section or separate sheet at the end of the lab document – please supply your answers to questions here.

2. Please use correct spelling and grammar. Points will be deducted for spelling/grammar mistakes.

3. Most questions on the lab assignments can be succinctly answered in a sentence or two – don’t provide a full-page essay when it is not needed. You will be graded on quality, not quantity.

4. If a question asks you to show your work, be sure to show any computations that you used to come up with your answer. If you are unsure of your results, provide a description of what you did so that you may receive partial credit.

5. Please provide the appropriate units for each of your numerical answers. For example, if you are asked to compute an area your answer should be given as “4 acres” not “4”. If you are asked to compute basal area, your answer should be given as “100 ft2” or “100 m2”, not “100”. One point will be deducted from each answer that does not include the appropriate units. Also, use appropriate units (i.e., feet vs. miles or meters vs. kilometers) on maps, lab documents, exams. Points will be deducted if you do not provide units.

6. Be sure to check that you have answered the question that was asked. For example, if I ask “how does this affect”, be sure to answer the question “how”; and if I ask “why do you think”, be sure to answer the question “why”. This may sound silly, but you would be surprised…

7. Remember that it is your responsibility to make sure that your labs are turned in on time – it is not the responsibility of the instructor or TA to come find you and ask for your lab assignment. Late labs will not be graded.  Pay particular attention to due dates near the end of the semester when a lot of assignments are coming due and everyone is busy and feeling a little stressed.

8. Finally, please make an appointment with me or the TA’s if you’re having trouble or would like to discuss this class or other aspects of spatial analysis. I am generally available by email. Stopping by my office and expecting to find me there is not the best option as I am in class, labs, meetings much of 9-5 every day.

A short list of the skills you will build on this semester:

  1. Displaying data and making maps (digital and paper)
  2. Querying data by attributes and spatial relationships
  3. Importing xy data from spreadsheets
  4. Joining external tables to spatial data
  5. Converting a geospatial layer from one coordinate system to another
  6. Edit vector data
  7. Screen digitize features
  8. Combing vector data (topological overlays) into new layers
  9. Vector analyses (combining multiple operations and selections)
  10. Aerial photo interpretation
  11. Georeferencing photos
  12. Integrate GPS data into GIS
  13. Satellite remote sensing image interpretation and classification
  14. Wildlife habitat analysis using vector and raster data
  15. Watershed and stream delineation derived from elevation data
  16. Integration of vector and raster analyses to address natural resource related questions