ENV BIOL 3122 - Evolution and Palaeobiology of Animals III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014

This course aims to provide advanced understanding of fundamental principles and modern advances in techniques for systematics, evolution and the fossil record, and the application of these to the study of the evolution and conservation of biodiversity. Topics include: evolutionary trees; morphological and molecular systematics, ancient DNA; molecular clocks, speciation, phylogeography, biogeography, phylogenetic approaches to biodiversity, conservation, epidemiology, extinction.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENV BIOL 3122
    Course Evolution and Palaeobiology of Animals III
    Coordinating Unit School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 5 hours per week
    Prerequisites ENV BIOL 2501
    Course Description This course aims to provide advanced understanding of fundamental principles and modern advances in techniques for systematics, evolution and the fossil record, and the application of these to the study of the evolution and conservation of biodiversity.
    Topics include: evolutionary trees; morphological and molecular systematics, ancient DNA; molecular clocks, speciation, phylogeography, biogeography, phylogenetic approaches to biodiversity, conservation, epidemiology, extinction.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Michael Lee

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    A successful student in this course should be able to:
    1 understand the important of evolutionary studies as a foundation of comparative biology;
    2 examine and understand the methodologies for the reconstruction and interpretation of phylogenetic and biogeogrpahic patterns and processes;
    3 understand the importance of the fossil record in evolutionary studies and the role of phylogenetic studies in wider ontext of biodiversity and conservation;
    4 demonstrate knowledge of cutting-edge solutions to problems in evolutionary biology related to expertise of the lectures;
    5  examine and interpret freshly collected and previously unexamined sediments;
    6 demonstrate an understanding of the nature of paleontological data through laboratory work.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,3,4
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1-4
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 4
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 2,3,5,6
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1-6
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-6
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 4
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 4,5,6
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be delivered by the following means:
    • 2 X 1-hour lectures per week
    • 1 X 3-hour practicals/tutorials per week
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary
    Schedule
    Lectures Practicals
    Week  1   Introduction to course
    Evolutionary (phylogenetic) trees & Inferring trees part 1 & 2
    Morphological characters: hand-analysis of Caminalcules. Demonstration of parsimony analysis, homology, homoplasy, reading trees.
    Week 2 Inferring trees part 3
    Evolution of the NZ biota
    Morphological characters: Parsimony analysis and character mapping using Mesquite (Essay topics announced)
    Week 3 Evolution of the NZ biota
    St Bathans and the origin of the modern NZ fauna
    The St Bathans fauna – introductory practical  with talk about the locality, history, fauna, and current work. Microscope stations set up with common taxa; students to learn how to identify and recognise common taxa.
    Week 4 Ancient DNA and NZ fauna
    Ancient DNA and palaeoecology
    Sorting fossils from sediment, identification, analysis and discussion group
    Week 5 Ancient DNA and palaeoecology
    Ancient DNA and palaeoecology
    Sorting fossils from sediment, identification, analysis and discussion group
    Week 6 Biogeography and molecular dating – case studies
    Speciation and species concepts
    Sorting fossils from sediment, identification, analysis and discussion group
    Week 7 Diversification rates and patterns
    Forensics and wildlife crime – molecular techniques
    Collation of results from all groups, and discussion of overall assemblage obtained over pracs 4-6
    Week 8 Monitoring exploited wildlife – molecular techniques V
    Venom and snake evolution
    Discussion and advice with lab leaders for group prac project report, to be written and marked individually.
    Week 9 Bioprospecting and antivenoms
    Understanding diseases using evolutionary trees
    Discussion group (individual lecturers to introduce background to their essay topic, and lead group discussion). (time and date can be varied to suit students/lecturers).
    Week 10 DNA barcoding – problems and prospects
    Quantifying biodiversity
    Tutorial sessions with lecturers for essay topics (time and date can be varied to suit students/lecturers).
    Week 11 Extinction in geological past
    Current anthropogenic extinctions - phylogenetic insights
    Tutorial sessions with lecturers for essay topics (time and date can be varied to suit students/lecturers).
    Week 12 Course wind up, overview Tutorial sessions with lecturers for essay topics (time and date can be varied to suit students/lecturers).
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Type of Assessment Percentage of total assessment for grading purposes Hurdle
    Yes/No
    Outcomes being assessed/achieved  Due date
    Essay Formative and Summative

    25%

    Yes
    (45%)
    1-5 Week after mid-semester break
    Practical reports
     (x 2)
    Formative and Summative 15% No 1,2,4,5 Week 1 & 7
    Group Laboratory/Practical assigment Formative and Summative 10% No 2,4,6 Due end of Swot Vac
    Exam Summative 50% Yes
    (45%)
    1-5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    To pass this course, students must achieve at least 45% in the essay and 45% in the final exam.
    The essay is redeemable by way of replacement essay.
    Assessment Detail
    Essay (25% of total course grade)
    To Integrate and evaluate critically the scientific evidence for the particular question in evolution that the essay topic addresses. 

    Practical Reports: (15% of total course grade).
    Practical Reports are project based and are handed in weeks 1 and 7 and assessed promptly to provide continual feedback to students and a sense of progressive accomplishment in the course. Students will receive written feedback on each of the practical reports submitted for assessment.

    Group Practical Assignment (10% of total course grades)
    To learn practical techniques (e.g. sorting and identifying microfossils) and interpret and discuss raw data in a coherent written report. Students work in groups and the laboratory project but the students submit their individual work and it is marked invidually.

    Exam (50% of total course grades)
    The final exam is based on content from lectures and practicals.
    Submission
    Late Submission
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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