ENV BIOL 3560 - Evolution of Australian Biota III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2018

This course aims to provide advanced theoretical understanding of 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. Students will investigate a range of key topics in evolutionary biology and apply critical thinking by assessing current literature in the area. Topics will include: past climates and habitats and how they have shaped the present day Australian biota; evolutionary trees; morphological and molecular systematics, ancient DNA; molecular clocks; biogeography; extinction; and computational challenges for processing and interpreting large-scale genomic data in phylogeography. Several themes will be explored in detail throughout the course; in particular, adaptations displayed by native animals and plants to arid, nutrient-stressed, aquatic and/or marine environments.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENV BIOL 3560
    Course Evolution of Australian Biota III
    Coordinating Unit School of Biological Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 12 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites ENV BIOL 2501
    Incompatible ENV BIOL 3230 or ENV BIOL 3122, ENV BIOL 3123, ENV BIOL 3550
    Assumed Knowledge ENV BIOL 2500 and ENV BIOL 2503, ENV BIOL 3535
    Course Description This course aims to provide advanced theoretical understanding of 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. Students will investigate a range of key topics in evolutionary biology and apply critical thinking by assessing current literature in the area. Topics will include: past climates and habitats and how they have shaped the present day Australian biota; evolutionary trees; morphological and molecular systematics, ancient DNA; molecular clocks; biogeography; extinction; and computational challenges for processing and interpreting large-scale genomic data in phylogeography. Several themes will be explored in detail throughout the course; in particular, adaptations displayed by native animals and plants to arid, nutrient-stressed, aquatic and/or marine environments.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr John Conran

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

    1 Analyse, synthesise and critically evaluate theories of cutting-edge solutions to problems in evolutionary biology and demonstrate an understanding of the importance of evolutionary studies as a foundation of comparative biology
    2 Understand the importance of the fossil record in evolutionary studies from a theoretical perspective and the role of phylogenetic studies in the wider context of biodiversity and conservation
    3 Present information relating to the evolution of the Australian biota in a written form that aligns with conventions for scientific reports
    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1-3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1-3
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    2-3
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1-3
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    3
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    1-3
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course demonstrates theory through the direct exposure of logic, experimental design and experience of the natural environment from 3 x 1-hour lectures per week 8 x 1-hour specialist workshops on cutting edge current research topics  and an in-depth literature-based assignment derived from workshop-related topics. Each component of the course is approached systematically so that by the end, all components have been brought together through individual reports and presentations.
    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 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

    Lecture topics will include:

    1.   Palaeontology, past climates and ecosystems and their impacts on the present-day biota, particularly focusing on, but not
    limited to the Cenozoic (10 lectures);

    2.   Evolution of the Australian Flora covering molecular and morphological approaches to the study of major angiosperm groups
    as well as aspects of their evolutionary biology, focusing on pollination co-evolution and exaptation (11 lectures).

    3.   Evolution of the Australian fauna, focusing on radiations, adaptations and specialisations throughout the changing Australian
    environment over time, using morphological and molecular approaches to the study of phylogeny and phylogeography (14 lectures).

    Students will learn to apply scientific techniques and approaches in tutorials which will expose students to cutting edge problem solving skills needed to advance knowledge and are presented by specialist academic staff on topics directly related to their own research. The aim is to give students an insight into the approaches and challenges of current evolutionary research and to encourage critical thinking on key issues via discussion with an academic expert in a research environment.
  • 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
    Learning Outcome Due
    Mid-term Test Formative & Summative 2 x 20% No 1-3 Weeks 4 & 7
    Literature
    report
    Formative & Summative 2 x 15% No 1-3 Weeks 8 & 12
    Final Exam Summative 30% No 3 Week 12
    Assessment Detail
    Progressive Tests: (40% of total course grade, 2 x 1 hours).

    Test 1: (20%, 1 hour) Comprises a combination of short answer and/or essay questions and will cover lectures 1–10 (week 4).

    Test 2: (20%, 1 hour) Comprises a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions to be assessed online and will cover lectures 11–21 (week 7)

    Final In-term Test: (30% of total course grade, 1.5 hours). It covers mainly lecture material from weeks 8–12, but to ensure summative knowledge of the course may also integrate concepts and theories from the entire course. It is mainly short answer and essay questions (week 12).

    Literature report: (30% of course grade). This will require in-depth literature-based explorations of two of the workshop topics (chosen by the student) and will comprise 2 x 15% essays of about 2000 words for each topic (due by weeks 8 and 12 respectively).




    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
  • 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.

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