Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION AND VERTEBRATE BIOLOGY - UNIT BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION
EVOLUZIONE BIOLOGICA E BIOLOGIA DEI VERTEBRATI MOD. EVOLUZIONE BIOLOGICA

A.Y. Credits
2021/2022 6
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Maria Balsamo Wednesday h. 11-13

Assigned to the Degree Course

Biological Sciences (L-13)
Curriculum: NATURALISTICO AMBIENTALE
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The course aims to provide students with the basics on the mechanisms of biological evolution, starting from the historical bases of research in the evolutionary field to arrive at the concepts object of current and more active research and scientific discussion.

Program

Genesis of evolutionary principles: From ancient Greece to the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century: the birth of modern evolutionary thought. Darwin and Wallace: descent with modification; the theory of natural selection. Modern synthesis: neo-Darwinism. Evolution today: post-Darwinism.

Biological evolution as a fact: evidences to support evolution.  

Variations in biological populations: phenotypic variability and genetic variability. The mechanism of natural selection and adaptive evolution. Darwinian concept of fitness and adaptation. Evolution patterns in biological populations.

Non-adaptive evolution: genetic drift, founder effect, bottleneck effect.

Adaptation: the complex relationship between natural selection and adaptation. Origins of adaptations: the concept of exaptation. Mimicry: camouflage and mimicry, Batesian and Mullerian mimicry: examples. Convergence and parallelism. Adaptation and evolution of sex: sexual selection.

Biological and ecological interactions between different species and their evolutionary relationships: from coexistence to competition, to symbiosis up to coevolution.

Symbiosis: definition, relationships between symbionts, types of symbiotic associations. Origin and evolution of mutualistic and antagonistic symbioses (parasitism).  Modes of transmission of the parasitic symbionts and their evolution: the ‘Red Queen’ effect, relations between parasitism and sexuality.

Evolutionary relationships between parasites and hosts: selective pressure and coevolution effects, biological cycles from simple to complex and vice versa. The evolutionary history of parasitic relationships: examples.

Species: different approaches to the species concept. Biological concept of species. Intraspecific and interspecific variability. ‘Sibling species’.

Isolating mechanisms and speciation patterns: allopatric, sympatric, parapatric, stasipatric.

From microevolution to macroevolution: models of macroevolution. Phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibria. Evolutionary radiations and extinctions. 

Evolution at different levels: molecular, genomic, phenotypic. Evo-Devo. Epigenetic inheritance.

Evolution and phylogeny: cladistic or phylogenetic sistematics. Methods of phylogenetic reconstruction. The molecular clock.

Selection unit: the individual or the genes?  Richard Dawkins’ hypothesis: ‘the selfish gene’. The concept of group selection (‘kin selection’)

Biological evolution of Homo sapiens.

Evolution and progress: references to the ‘scala naturae’, the concept of ‘progress’, the views of Lamarck and Darwin.  The concept of ‘orthogenesis’ (Haacke 1893). The main philosophical approaches to the variety of life.

Biological evolution does not have a purpose: a comparison with theistic and creationist views, even the current ones (‘Intelligent Design’).

Bridging Courses

There are no official prerequisites even if the subject requires in-depth knowledge of animal biology, plant biology, genetics and ecology.

Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

D1- KNOWLEDGE AND CAPACITY OF UNDERSTANDING
The course aims at the acquisition of the historical bases of knowledge of the scientific thought related to biological evolution as well as of the mechanisms and processes of biological evolution at various levels.

D2- CAPACITY  TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

The student must acquire the ability to consider all biological issues in an evolutionary key, applying the knowledge of the mechanisms of biological evolution even at the scale of specific interest of his/her own scientific study. He/she must also achieve the ability to discuss biological topics, even interdisciplinary, in the light of the current scientific vision on evolutionary issues.

D3- JUDGEMENT AUTONOMY
The student must demonstrate the use of the knowledge gained during the course to discuss and interpret, independently, the results of experimental studies, or even broader biological issues, and to advance hypotheses and motivated personal considerations.

D4- COMMUNICATION SKILLS
The student must be able to discuss competently topics related to biological evolution and to interpret  biological topics in an evolutionary key. He/she will also have to show the ability to transmit the acquired knowledge in a clear and understandable way even to people who are not expert on the specific issues.

D5- LEARNING ABILITY
The student must be able to read and understand texts and scientific articles on the specific topic, and use them for research or targeted studies.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Supporting Activities

The slides of the lessons will be made available and teaching and bibliographic material will be provided on electronic or paper support for further information and self-training exercises.

In-depth seminars on specific topics are planned.


Teaching, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment

Teaching

The course will be given mainly through lectures, interactive as much as possible.

The slides of the lessons will be made available and teaching and bibliographic material will be provided on electronic or paper support for further information and self-training exercises, followed by a collective discussion in the classroom.

In-depth seminars on specific topics are planned.

Attendance

No obligation to attend.

Course books

Reference book:

Ferraguti-Castellacci 2011. Evolution, models and processes. Pearson Italy, Milan-Turin.

Consultation texts:

Workman-Reader 2021. Evolutionary Psychology. Cambridge Univ. Press. UK

Ridley 2006. Evolution. The history of life and its mechanisms. McGraw-Hill.

Kampourakis 2014. Understanding evolution. Cambridge Univ. Press.

 Bibliographic and educational material will also be provided, in Italian and English languages, on electronic or paper support for further information and self-training exercises.

Assessment

The exam consists of an oral interview on topics covered and the possible discussion of a dissertation paper on a topic agreed with the teacher.

The purpose of the interview is to ascertain the correct understanding of the fundamental concepts of biological evolution and the ability of the student  to apply this knowledge to formulate reflections and judgments in autonomy.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students

Teaching

The slides of the lessons will be made available and teaching and bibliographic material will be provided on electronic or paper support for further information and self-training exercises.

Attendance

No obligation to attend.

Course books

Reference book:

Ferraguti-Castellacci 2011. Evolution, models and processes. Pearson Italy, Milan-Turin.

Consultation texts:

Workman-Reader 2021. Evolutionary Psychology. Cambridge Univ. Press. UK

Ridley 2006. Evolution. The history of life and its mechanisms. McGraw-Hill.

Kampourakis 2014. Understanding evolution. Cambridge Univ. Press.

 Bibliographic and educational material will also be provided, in Italian and English languages, on electronic or paper support for further information and self-training exercises.

Assessment

The exam consists of an oral interview on topics of the program and the possible discussion of a dissertation paper on a topic agreed with the teacher.

The purpose of the interview is to ascertain the correct understanding of the fundamental concepts of biological evolution and the ability of the student  to apply this knowledge to formulate reflections and judgments in autonomy.

« back Last update: 20/02/2022

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