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BIO-150-20, Principles of Evolution (SP15)

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Paul Weldon, Email: pweldon@ndm.edu, Tel: 410-532-5721

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: Semester/Saturday/ 12:00 – 2:45 PM, 01/31/2015 – 05/16/2015

The process of evolution underpins all of biology, from the origin of replicating molecules to the global distribution of plants, animals, and other organisms. This course introduces non-majors to the evidence for evolution and to its basic tenets. The course focuses primarily on modern evidence for evolution following arguments initially presented in Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species." These include, first, a clarification of the processes and agents of natural selection. Examples of evolutionary phenomena to be examined include domestication by humans as a process analogous to changes induced in animals and plants by natural selection; the fossil record, where the appearance and extinction of major groups of organisms throughout Earth's history are described; homology, where structures, metabolic pathways, behavior, and other features are inherited from common ancestors; transitional forms, where organisms intermediate to more familiar species have been unearthed; convergence, where unrelated organisms display similar adaptations to similar environments; and biogeography, where the distribution of organisms via plate tectonics, oceanic dispersal, and other mechanisms will be examined. The last segment of the course will describe evidence for evolution derived from modern biochemical and molecular biological studies. Topics of practical significance to be covered include the emergence of antibiotic resistance by microorganisms, insecticide resistance by insects, and the evolution of social behavior. 


“The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution” by Carl Zimmer [ISBN: 978-0981519470] (abbreviated in Schedule as Zi)


“Evolution of Life” (12th Ed.) by C. Starr, R. Taggart, C. Evers, L. Starr [ISBN-13: 978—0-495-55799-9 (abbreviated in Schedule as St)


lecture, texts, handouts, films


The grade in this course will be based, in part, upon 3 exams (100 pts each), each covering the chapters and material as outlined below. The final exam is not cumulative. In addition, students will be required to submit two short reports (50 pts each) and present two oral reports (50 pts each). Details of the style of the short reports will be provided in a guidelines sheet; the oral report expectations will be described in class. The topics of all oral and written reports must be approved by the instructor in advance. Students should have confirmed proposed topics by requesting that the instructor sign off on a hardcopy of the proposal or grant approval by email . Total points = 500 pts. Grade scale - A (91-100%), B (81-90%), C (71-80%), D (61-70%), F (< 61%).

i. Students will abide by the College's honor code and provide a statement on each test and submitted assignment acknowledging this.

ii. No electronic phones or other devices should be accessible during exams. Please silence cell phones for lecture.

iii. No more than 2 absences will be permitted for a student to pass this course. Arrivals 20 min late are considered absences.
iv. No exams will be given earlier or later than scheduled, unless extenuating circumstances can be documented or otherwise verified. IF A STUDENT HAS A SPECIAL REQUEST FOR A MODIFIED DATE ON WHICH TO TAKE AN EXAM, THAT REQUEST NEEDS TO BE SUBMITTED IN WRITING – HARDCOPY, PLEASE, NOT EMAIL.
v. All exams will be taken in the classroom, unless special permission is granted otherwise.
vi. Students are urged to activate or otherwise render accessible their ndm email accounts. In addition, they will be asked will submit their alternative email address at the beginning of the semester. Students are expected to check and respond, if appropriate, to emails from the instructor. Students will be held responsible for information transmitted by email.
vii. No assignments submitted by email (including email attachments) will be accepted.


Students who need special accommodations because of a documented learning disability or physical disability must submit the appropriate documentation from the Vice President for Student Development. Once approved, the accommodation plan will be developed. It is the student's responsibility to share the accommodation plan with the instructor of the course prior to the due date for tests or other assignments, preferably at the outset of the semester.



-Week 1: Science theory, rationale, and methods/Overview; Zi, Chapters 1, 2, and 4 (only pg. 62-63 – Facts and Theories in Science) / St, Chapter 1 up to 17.4  (pgs 253-275); 19.1 (pgs 302-303)  

-Week 2: Evolution’s Raw Material; Zi, Chapter 5 / St, 19.4 (pgs 312-313)

-Week 3: Adaptations; Zi, Chapter 8 / St, 18.3-18.4 pgs 298-301; 19.2 pgs 310-311

-Week 4: Exam 1

-Week 5: Mutation, Drift, Selection; Zi, Chapter 6 / St, 18.1 (pgs 295-299); 17.5 (276-279) (First oral report/short paper due)         

-Week 6: Speciation/Sex; Zi, Chapters 9, 10/ St, 17.9 – 17.11

-Week 7: Exam 2

-Week 8: Tree of Life/Fossil Record; Zi, 3, 4 / St, 17.8 (pages 282-283); Chapt 20 (pgs 316-327)

-Week 9: Macroevolution; Zi, 11            

-Week 10: Molecular Evolution/Evolution of Behavior (Second oral reports/short paper); Zi, 7, 13  

-Final exam