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Semester 1 - Online
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It is widely held that nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution. But evolutionary theory is crucial not only for making sense of organic diversity, but also for helping us understand and manage our interactions with other organisms: antibiotic and insecticide resistance, disease virulence, fisheries decline, spread of invasive species, human behaviour and life-histories are all informed by a knowledge of the processes of evolution. This subject will reveal the ubiquity of biological evolution in both natural and human modified environments. It will describe and explain the agents of change— drift, migration and selection, and show their effects on both single and multiple gene traits, and on the phylogenetic relationships of species. The subject will introduce co-evolutionary processes, which are critical for understanding traits that evolve through interactions between species, including humans. Particular topics will include (but not limited to): heritable variation; agents of evolution; artificial, natural and sexual selection; phenotypes and quantitative genetics; phylogeny, speciation and the tree of life; and antagonistic and mutualistic co-evolution. The subject will emphasise both the outcome and process of scientific research leading to our understanding of evolutionary processes, drawing on examples from across the diversity of life.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Define and explain the core concepts of evolutionary biology, including heritability, adaptation, and speciation.
- Describe the scientific techniques used to study evolution, such as experimental evolution, long-term field studies, quantitative genetics, and molecular phylogenetics.
- Interpret and build phylogenies describing the evolutionary relationships between species.
- Explain some of the practical applications of evolutionary research, for example in conservation biology.
The subject builds upon generic skills developed in first year level subjects. At the completion of this subject, students should gain skills in:
- Critical analysis and synthesis of new knowledge;
- Practical problem solving;
- Evaluating, interpreting, and presenting data;
- Searching and evaluating primary scientific literature;
- Oral communication and presentation skills; and
- Time management and self-management skills.
Last updated: 20 February 2024