University of Tennessee, Knoxville - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Dr. Budke teaches the following courses at UTK

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

  • EEB 330/602 - Field Botany - Fall semesters
    Three credit course
    Principles of taxonomy, basic ecological concepts and identification, recognition, collection and preservation of local, native and naturalized plants. Plants are foundational for life on our planet, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Being able to identify plant species is a critical skill that will enable you to: assess ecosystem health and habitat type, recognize edible or medicinal plants, spot new plant species invading our native communities that if left unchecked may upset critical ecosystem services that we depend upon, discover new plant species that could yield chemicals with novel pharmaceutical properties, recognize crop pests that can negatively impact our food security, and generally enhance your understanding and appreciation of green spaces. In this course students will explore diverse plants of east Tennessee in the field, using a hand lens, and through photographs, readings, videos, and lectures provided online. Students will learn to sight identify common plants, and how to use field guides and dichotomous keys to identify unknown plants. Students will virtually tour research facilities on campus, such as the UTK Herbarium, that are dedicated to the conservation, identification, and preservation of plants. As a team, students will use their knowledge gained during the course to create a field guide educating members of the public about plants and teaching them to distinguish common plant species.

  • EEB 401/607 - Natural History Collections Research Seminar - Fall semesters
    One credit (7-week) course
    Natural history collections are a physical record of our planet's biology across space and time, and are a critical part of modern biodiversity research. This course will introduce students to cutting edge collections-based research. We will explore critical questions in conservation management, invasive species biology, anthropology, paleontology, ecology, evolution, scientific ethics, and advocacy that are informed by data from natural history collections. During this course, students will visit a variety of research and teaching collections on campus, including (but not limited to) the ichthyology, malacology, botanical, and fungal collections. Students will gain hands on experience with research specimens and the metadata associated with them. We will have presentations from guest instructors (e.g., collections managers, curators, directors, faculty) who work with natural history collections sharing their approaches to curating collections as well as their integration of specimens into their ongoing research projects.

Laboratory Resources for Biology Teachers

Chemical Competition in Peatland Plants using the Moss Sphagnum

Grade Levels 9-12
These laboratory exercises were designed to help students to better understand the concept of chemical competition in ecology using the moss Sphagnum. These exercises aim to show students that not all competition is carried out by animals and not all competition is a physical battle, as most of the traditional examples show. By using the chemical alteration of the environment by Sphagnum, students can also be taught about pH, in a biological framework. As a result, the labs can be used in either an ecology unit or a chemistry unit, within a biology course.

Peer reviewed laboratory exercises about chemical competition in plants.

Swanson J, Budke JM, and Goffinet B. 2012. Chemical competition in plants using the moss Sphagnum. PlantED Digital Library. http://planted.botany.org/ Featured in the Plant Science Bulletin 60(4): 198, 2014.
Powerpoint Introduction – Includes 15 slides that introduce the concepts of competition, ion exchange in Sphagnum mosses and succession in peatlands. Download Powerpoint Introduction

Laboratory Exercise 1 – The ability to alter the pH of the water surrounding it is compared between Sphagnum moss and another non-moss aquatic plant.

Laboratory Exercise 2 – The ability of Sphagnum to alter the pH of the water surrounding it is compared with and without additional ions.

Download Laboratory Exercises

Teacher’s Notes – Pre-laboratory preparation, data collection, and Sphagnum collection are covered.

Download Teacher's Notes

Moss Culturing Protocol for Growing Mosses in the Classroom

Developed for high school teacher workshop at MOSS 2012 conference.

Mosses can be used to demonstrate fundamental characteristics of both bryophytes and the plant life cycle in general. Using mosses in the classroom, students can see phenomena such as the formation of antheridia, the male sex organs, and archegonia, the female sex organs. Moss reproduction can also be taught, as students will have the opportunity to see fertilization and sporophyte development firsthand. This real-world visual also aids in the understanding of haploid and diploid stages experienced during bryophyte development and sexual reproduction.