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Department of Biology & Biochemistry, Unit Catalogue 2011/12

BB20040: Concepts in evolution

Click here for further information Credits: 6
Click here for further information Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Click here for further information Period: Semester 1
Click here for further information Assessment: EX 100%
Click here for further information Supplementary Assessment: Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Click here for further information Requisites: Before taking this unit you must take BB10012
Click here for further information Description: Aims:
To develop an understanding of key concepts in microevolution and macroevolution; to place these in the context of the history of evolutionary thought; to apply these concepts to key problems in evolution; and to understand how they apply to evolution in real populations and in humans.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this course the student should be able to:
* utilise concepts from evolutionary theory, optimisation theory, behavioural ecology and ecological genetics in understanding ecological and evolutionary issues;
* discuss key concepts in macroevolution and the evolution of modern biodiversity;
* demonstrate an understanding of the role of biological and physical factors in shaping macroevolutionary patterns;
* demonstrate an understanding of the role of mathematical modelling in evolutionary biology;
* demonstrate an understanding of how concepts are applied to understand human evolution.

Learning and studying T/F/A, Written communication T/F/A, Information technology T/F, Information handling & retrieval T/F/A, Working independently T/F.

The background and reception of The Origin of Species; The age of the earth and the rate of evolution; modelling evolutionary processes; group selection, individual selection, gene level selection; linkage disequilibrium, hitchhiking, disease locus mapping, modifer analysis; measuring and understanding heritability; introduction to quantitative genetics; neutral evolution, the problem of polymorphism and the strength of selection; introduction to molecular evolution: Detecting selection and neutral evolution at the molecular level; selfish elements, genetic conflicts and the corruption of individual level thinking .
Quantitative genetics - connecting variation at the molecular level to variances at the phenotypic level; Influence of inbreeding and non-random mating; Migration, gene flow and metapopulations; Haplotype networks to examine population history; Coalescence and drift; optimality.
Sexual selection and genome evolution; genome-wide screens for selection using comparative primate genomics and the neanderthal genome; population genetic evidence for recent adaptation in human populations; genetic diversity and "The 1000 human genome project"; elucidating molecular adaptation in the post-genomic era.
Why sex? costs and benefits of sexual and asexual reproduction; genetical and ecological approaches to resolving the paradox of sex; constraints on the evolution of asex; insights from geographic parthenogenesis and spatial modelling.
Macroevolution: phyletic gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium; diversity through time; what drives evolution? the Tree of Life; cladistics; reconstructing evolutionary pathways; molecular clocks; the origins of novelty and the origins of higher taxa; mass extinctions; testing macroevolutionary hypotheses.
Click here for further informationProgramme availability:

BB20040 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Biology & Biochemistry
  • USBB-AFB03 : BSc (hons) Biology (Full-time) - Year 2
  • USBB-AKB07 : BSc (hons) Biology with Professional Placement (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2
  • RSBB-AFM15 : Integrated PhD Postgenomic Biosciences (Evolutionary Biology Route) (Full-time) - Year 1
  • TSBB-AFM15 : MRes Evolutionary Biology (Full-time) - Year 1
  • TSBB-AFM08 : MSc Evolutionary and Population Biology (Full-time) - Year 1
Programmes in Natural Sciences
  • UXXX-AFB01 : BSc (hons) Natural Sciences (Full-time) - Year 2
  • UXXX-AKB02 : BSc (hons) Natural Sciences with Industrial Placement (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2
  • UXXX-AAB02 : BSc (hons) Natural Sciences with Study Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 2
  • UXXX-AFM01 : MSci (hons) Natural Sciences (Full-time) - Year 2
  • UXXX-AKM02 : MSci (hons) Natural Sciences with Professional Placement (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2
  • UXXX-AAM02 : MSci (hons) Natural Sciences with Study Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 2

NB. Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.