Course List: Ecology and Evolution
ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
LIFE 120 & LIFE 120L and LIFE 121 & LIFE 121L
This course is intended as an introduction to the sciences of Ecology and Evolution, and is required of all Biology majors. Evolution is the central organizing principle of biology, and evolution always takes place within an ecological context. The structure and dynamics of local populations and communities in and around Cedar Point will serve as models to explore both ecological and evolutionary principles.
Ecology and evolution are the branches of biology that seek to understand the short and long term processes that have led to the patterns of diversity we see in the world today. Ecology is the examination of the (usually) shorter-term factors, such as local climate, soil quality, and species interactions (e.g. competition and predation), which affect the distribution and abundance of organisms. In contrast, evolution is concerned with the (generally) longer-term processes, like natural selection, genetic drift, and speciation, which affect the genetic composition (and therefore the environmental tolerances) of species. Evolution and ecology are clearly inter-related. In this course our goal is to give you an appreciation of the full variety of ecological and evolutionary processes, and allow you to better understand, and perhaps even marvel at, the natural world.
Lectures and directed class discussions are necessary to organize the conceptual framework of the course, and to present critical ecological principles as needed. Introductions to field techniques, research design and statistical analyses will be included. Class exercises will be developed and carried out as teams, with each group responsible for organizing (and analyzing) data.