Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Ecology

Purpose of Course  showclose

In BIO101, you were introduced to biology on a microscopic scale when you learned about the functions of molecules, genes, and cells.  In this course, you will learn about biological changes that happen on a very large scale, across entire populations of organisms and over the course of millions of years, in the form of evolution and ecology.  Evolution, the process by which different species of organisms have developed and diversified from earlier forms, has been a central theme in the field of biology ever since Darwin first published his theories about it.  Mounting evidence from many different branches of science all point to the fact that species have experienced a gradual but definite physical change.  In this course, we will learn about evolution and theories that stem from evolution.

We will also learn about ecology, the study of the interactions between different types of organisms and their surroundings.  Changes in surroundings will force organisms to adapt and change—often in terms of the way in which they interact with one another.  An ecosystem, or a biological community that contains both an environment and all of its inhabitants, can be quite large and can contain hundreds or even thousands of species.

Evolution and ecology have together shaped our understanding of how life has changed over time on Earth, across billions of years of its history.  It explains why giraffes have long necks and why hummingbirds have long beaks.  It also explains why all land vertebrates share common skeletal features!

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to PSYCH204/BIO102.  Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements.
Course Designer: Olivia D'Ambrogio
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials: 

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Use their understanding of Mendelian genetics and patterns of inheritance to predict genotypes and phenotypes of offspring or work backwards to identify the genotypes and phenotypes of a parental generation. 
  • Distinguish between inheritance patterns that involve autosomal vs. sex-linked traits and identify the respective consequences of each type of inheritance.
  • Identify what distinguishes Darwin’s theory of evolution from other arguments that attempt to explain diversity across species and/or many generations.
  • Identify which of many types of natural selection is acting on a particular population/species.
  • Identify which of many types of sexual selection is acting on a particular population/species.
  • Identify the factors that alter the frequencies of alleles in populations over time and describe the effects of these factors on populations.
  • Recognize, read, and create phylogenies and cladograms, using them to explain evolutionary relationships.
  • Determine the ecological interactions affecting a particular community and identify the effects of specific relationships (e.g. symbiosis, competition) on species within that community.
  • Distinguish between world biomes in terms of their climate, nutrient cycles, energy flow, and inhabitants.
  • Use their knowledge of nutrient cycles and energy flow to estimate the effect that changes in physical or biological factors would have on a particular ecosystem.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course you must:
√    Have access to a computer.
√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).
√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√    Be competent in the English language.
√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close