ENV BIOL 2501 - Evolutionary Biology II

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2022

This course addresses key components of evolutionary biology from the perspective of molecular evolution, from the perspective of individual organisms evolving attributes to cope with and exploit spatially and/or temporally variable and different environments, and from a macro-evolutionary perspective. Natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection and inclusive fitness are used to develop an understanding of the behavioural, morphological and physiological adaptations of individual organisms to their environments, as well as an understanding of the interactions and co-evolutionary processes that occur between organisms both intra- and inter-specific (reproductive strategies, mating systems, competition, predator-prey, plant-herbivore, host-parasite, mutualisms, facilitation). Molecular evolution and population genetics provide the mechanics for evolution. Knowledge of these and biogeographic changes are used to develop the ideas of species and speciation, to construct phylogenies, and to interpret the fossil record and patterns of extinction

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENV BIOL 2501
    Course Evolutionary Biology II
    Coordinating Unit School of Biological Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge BIOLOGY 1101 or BIOLOGY 1401 & BIOLOGY 1201 or BIOLOGY 1202 or BIOLOGY 1001
    Assessment Practical reports, essay, quiz, final exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Diego C Garcia-Bellido

    This course is taught by Assoc Prof Diego C. García-Bellido, Assoc Prof Jeremy Austin, Assoc Prof Kate Saunders and Dr Kyle Armstrong.
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Develop and explain the importance of evolutionary studies as a foundation of comparative biology.
    2 Examine and apply the major genetic and ecological processes underlying evolution and selection
    3 Recognise and explain the processes driving speciation and how these relate to classification techniques.
    4 Explain and interpret the methodologies for the reconstruction and interpretation of phylogenetic and biogeographic patterns and processes
    5 Recognise and explain the importance of the fossil record in evolutionary studies, and the role of phylogenetic studies in the wider context of biodiversity and conservation.
    6 Access and synthesise contemporary information in evolutionary biology in written and verbal form.
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    1, 2, 3, 4

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    4, 5, 6

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    4, 6

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    ,4, 6

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.

    4, 5

    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    4, 5, 6
  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources
    Some important and useful texts include:
    Alcock, J (1998) ‘Animal behavior: an evolutionary approach, 6th edition.’ (Sinauer: Sunderland, Mass.)
    Judd, WS, Campbell, CS, Kellogg, EA, Stevens, PF, Donoghue, MJ (2008) ‘Plant systematics: a phylogenetic approach, 3rd edition.’ (Sinauer: Sunderland Mass.)
    Krebs, JR, Davies, NB (1993) ‘An introduction to behavioural ecology.’ (Blackwell Science: Oxford)
    Maynard Smith, J (2002) ‘Evolutionary genetics, 2nd edition.’ (Oxford University Press: Oxford)
    Ridley, M (2004) ‘Evolution, 3rd edition.’ (Blackwell Scientific Publishing: Malden, MA)
    Rose, MR, Mueller, LD (2005) ‘Evolution and ecology of the organism.’ (Pearson Education: Upper Saddle River, NJ)
    Skelton, PW (Ed.) (1993) ‘Evolution: a biological and palaeontological approach.’ (Addison-Wesley: Workingham, UK)
    Toft, CA, Jaeger, RG (1998) Writing for scientific journals. I: the manuscript. Herpetologica 54 (Suppl.), S42–S54.
    Zimmer, C (2001) ‘Evolution: the triumph of an idea.’ (Harper Collins Publishers: New York)
    Online Learning
    It is important that all students maintain active communication channels throughout the semester. The primary communication channels to students in this course will be via email, MyUni and announcements made in lectures:
    MyUni: Students should regularly login to MyUni via the MyUni website (http://myuni.adelaide.edu.au/) for important course-related announcements. Teaching materials, past examination papers and course documentation will also be posted on this site.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be delivered in the following means:
    • Lectures:  3 X 1-hour lectures per week
    • Practicals/Tutorials: 1 X 3-hour practical/tutorial per week

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

    A students 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 for the course (lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (eg revision, reading)
    Learning Activities Summary
    Topics covered throughout the course may include:
    1. Micro-evolution
        Mechanisms of evolution
        Gene flow
        Genetic drift
        Natural selection and adaptation

    2. Systematics and macroevolution
       Species concepts and speciation; allopatry, sympatry, vicariance, selection, genetic isolation Hybridisation, polyploidy, apomixis and other alternative pathways to evolve; adaptive radiation
       Classical taxonomy; classification systems and nomenclature Morphological data
       Molecular and allied data

    3. Palaeobiology
        Fossil record through time, major evolutionary radiations and mass extinctions
        Evolutionary faunas, living fossils and exceptional preservation
        Palaeoecology and palaeobiodiversity

    4. Biogeography
       Adaptations for dispersal; dispersal versus vicariance; application of phylogenetics in biogeography; centres of origin
       Island biogeography: adaptations of plants and animals to living on islands
       Origins and make-up of the Australian biota: the vertebrate groups
       Origins and make-up of the Australian biota: examples from the flora and invertebrates
  • 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 Task Type Hurdle
    Yes or No
    Weighting Learning Outcome
    Online Quiz  Summative


    10% 1,2
    Major essay Formative Summative No 25% 1-6
    Practical reports Formative
    No 25% 2,4
    Final exam Summative No 40% 1-6
    Assessment Detail
    Online Quiz (10% of total course grades)
    This online quiz will assess content and concepts presented in the first four lectures. . It will comprise approximately 10 multiple-choice questions and is designed to reinforce the major points on natural selection and population genetics. 

    Major Essay (25% of total course grades)
    Note that detailed information on the essay will be handed out separately. The essay is 1500-2000 words in length and comprises a set topic. It is designed to help students synthesise material from across the course and from their reading to develop an overall understand of the nature and process of evolution as it is presently understood and as it applies to a major group of organisms. The essay is also designed to help them develop writing skills so that you can learn to present information in a coherent but concise manner.

    Practical Reports (25% of total course grades)
    You will be required to write-up and present some of the practical exercises that you conduct during the semester. These will be written up in a formal report with introduction, methods, results and discussion. Each practical is worth 12.5%. These weightings are indicative of the amount of time you should devote to the reports. These reports should also cover your responses to questions posed in the practical notes.

    Examination Paper (40% of total course grades)
    The exam will be a 2 hour paper and will cover material presented and discussed in Lectures and Workshops.
    The Essay must be submitted electronically using TurnItIn within MyUni (instructions will be provided in the Essay tutorial). Hard copies will not be accepted.

    Practical reports should be lodged in the drop box for the course in the Mawson Building foyer. Do not give your reports or essay to any of the lecturing staff or put them into internal mail. All Practical reports must be submitted with a signed cover sheet that can be down loaded from MyUni. NB. Essays without a cover sheet will not be marked.

    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
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.