BIO 412 -- Organic Evolution -- Spring 2018

Contact Information & Office Hours

Required Texts:
1. Evolution 2nd Ed. by C. T. Bergstrom & L. A. Dugatkin (2016; W. W. Norton & Co.).
2. The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species ed. J. Pechenik (2014; Sinauer Assoc., Inc.). -OR- The Beak of the Finch by J. Weiner (1995; Vintage).

Catalog Description:
The purpose of the course is to provide an introduction to the general concepts, processes, and mechanisms of evolutionary biology from molecular, organismal, and population perspectives.

Learning Objectives:
This course is designed to introduce students to the concepts and methodologies of evolutionary biology. Evolution is the theory that unifies all sub-disciplines of biology—evolution by natural selection, mutation, migration and genetic drift provides the single best explanation for the history and diversity of life; students completing this course should understand why this is true and be able to explain it to others.

Tentative Course Outline by Topic (Chapter):

  • Evolution (1)
  • History of Evolutionary Thought (2)
  • Natural Selection & Adaptation (3)
  • Phylogenetics & Common Descent (4-5)

Exam 1 (February 20)

  • Genetics (6)
  • Population Genetics (7-8)
  • Evolution of Phenotypes (9)

Exam 2 (April 3)

  • Sex, Mating Systems & Sexual Selection (16)
  • Species & Speciation (14)
  • Coevolution (18)

Exam 3 (May 8, 1:00-2:15)

Attendance Policy:
Attendance is mandatory; class participation is part of your grade. Any material covered in lecture is fair game for the exams, whether it is in the required readings or not.

A letter grade will be assigned based on your performance in the course. Grades are calculated as a percentage out of the total points available (475). Grades are not rounded up and are defined as follows: A = 90-100%; B = 80-89.99%; C = 70-79.99%; D = 60-69.99%; F < 60%. (+) and (-) will be assigned according to University policy. Your course grade will be made up of the following measures:

  • In-class (Lecture) Exams (3 @ 100 points): 300 points
  • Take-home (Book) Exam (1 @ 75 points): 75 points
  • Article Discussions (6 @ 10 points): 60 points
  • Class participation (8 @ 5 points): 40 points

There will be 3 in-class (lecture) exams, roughly covering the material in equal proportions. While the exams are not intended to be cumulative, the material in this course builds on itself, so you will be expected to remember material covered on the first exam for the final exam. The exams will primarily be short-answer (definitions) and essay questions. All requests for exam re-grades must be submitted within 1 week of when the exams are returned.

Exam Make-up Policy:
If you are unable to take an exam at the regularly scheduled time, please notify me as soon as possible. Proper documentation (e.g., doctor's excuse) must be provided and you must contact me within 48 hours of missing an exam or you forfeit your chances for a make-up exam.

Take-home (Book) Exam:
A take-home exam based on The Origin of Species will be passed on April 19. It will be due April 26 at the beginning of class (no later than 12:35pm). At this time, a hard copy of the exam must be turned in and a digital version must be uploaded into the Dropbox in D2L. Both copies must be turned in on time to get credit. No late exams will be accepted under any circumstances.

In-class Discussions:
Six times throughout the semester, half of the class will be devoted to discussion of an article from the primary literature. These discussions will occur in 2 phases: 1) small groups of 3-4 students and 2) whole-class discussion. Each student is responsible for reading the paper prior to class and coming prepared to discuss the article. A meaningful contribution to the whole-class discussion is worth 10 points. In-class Discussion dates will be announced in class.

Statements common to all WCU syllabi

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