Bio 385 Evolutionary Biology
The syllabus from a past course follows. The spring 2014 course should be fairly similar.
Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141
Required Texts: Evolutionary Analysis 4th Ed., 2007, by Freeman. Additional required readings will be posted on Moodle.
Offered: alternate years in the fall
For questions, contact Dr. Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evolutionary Biology is designed primarily for advanced biology majors. As such, the material will explore both the fundamental concepts in evolution and how evolutionary biology is conducted (experimental design, data analysis).
The course is primarily lecture-based, meant to help you summarize the information from the textbook and to practice applying concepts via homeworks and exams. We also will read a combination of journal articles and popular works about evolution to illustrate points covered in lecture and to familiarize us all with the latest in the field. Discussions during the last portion of the semester will be student-led, with a pair of students presenting information to the class. We will examine how different organisms have solved environmental challenges through evolutionary adaptation. The ultimate goal of this course is to help you develop an appreciation for, broad exposure to, knowledge of and continuing interest in organismal biology.
Course GoalsStudents will gain a rigorous knowledge of the principles of evolutionary biology, specifically:
There are 300 points in the course, made up of the following:
Lecture Exams (4 x 50 pts. = 200 pts): Exams will cover material highlighted in lecture and detailed in the accompanying textbook readings for that section. I expect you not only to recall what you’ve studied but to also be able to synthesize and apply ideas. Exams will not require calculators, but you are expected to know and understand the use of formulas/models discussed in lecture.
Discussions (10pt worksheet): To enhance our discussion, we will have two consecutive “journal clubs” for each paper. You will be assigned to attend only one of these. For each discussion I have provided you with a discussion guide that asks questions about each paper separately and themes/problems common to both. You will be asked to fill out a Discussion Paper Worksheet for 10 points (see schedule on Moodle). The remaining students do not have an assigned homework but are expected to discuss.
Critical Article Reviews (5pt worksheet + 10pt experiment proposal): You and a partner will be.
Oral Presentation (10pt outlines + 20pt talk = 30 pts.): Students will form teams of two persons and present a topic in evolutionary biology (12 min talk, 4 min questions). Presentations ideally mix the background material present in your textbook + a particular experiment you think is cool + your thoughts and impressions. The topic must synthesize one to three peer-reviewed papers published after 2003. Presentations are evaluated for (in order of importance): thoroughness, conciseness and professionalism. Thus, even if you are dead afraid of public speaking, your background research and writing skills can still earn you a fine grade on the assignment. Note that student teams have an option of creating a video (rather than a speech), and subsequently publishing the video online.
An outline of the talk, with literature cited, is due one week prior to the presentation. Students will randomly draw the order in which they will choose the date and time of their presentation.
Problem Sets (15 and 20 pts. = 35 pts): Evolution is a very quantitative science, and as such we will apply our lecture concepts and formulae to data. Problem sets can NOT be turned in late. Showing your work is not required, but is essential for partial credit if you miss something.
Participation 10 pts.
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The salamander genus Plethodon has many, many cryptic species nearly indistinguishable by color pattern.
Angraecum eburneum longicalcar, an orchid from Madagascar. Islands speed up evolutionary forces, resulting in bizarre adapations.
Hyla chrysocelis or H. versicolor? This frog is an example of speciation by genomic duplication
How will fish populations respond to removal of the largest individuals by fishing?
Slight mutations in developmental genes can result in enormous phenotypic changes, as seen in this strain of Arabidopsis thaliana.