Fall 2002

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." (T. Dobzhansky)

Instructor: Dr. Leslie J. Rissler

Office: 3101 Valley Life Sciences Building (MVZ)

Office hours: Tuesday 9:30-10:30 (and by appointment when necessary)


GSI: Jacqueline Moustakas

Office: 5091 Valley Life Sciences Building

Office Hours: Monday 11:00-12:00


GSI: Matthew Wedel

Office: 5078 Valley Life Sciences Building

Office Hours: Tuesday 2:00-3:00, in 2011 VLSB


Course web page:

Discussion web page:

Required Textbook: Evolutionary Analysis, Second Edition. 2001. Scott Freeman and Jon C. Herron

Exams and Assignments/Grading: Midterm and Final Exam (70%); Term Paper (20%); Participation in Discussion Section (10%). Exams are intended to be more than a regurgitation of factual material. Exams will challenge you to synthesize and use your knowledge of evolutionary biology to address new questions in a critical way. Detailed point scheme will be available on the WWW site.

Term Paper: Intended to give students experience in 1) researching a relevant, current topic in evolutionary biology, 2) synthesizing the current literature, and 3) writing. Length: minimum of 8 and maximum 12 pages (not including literature cited), double-spaced, typed with 12 point Times New Roman font with 1" margins. Topics will be chosen in consultation with the instructor.

Discussion Section: Papers will be handed out before and after lecture or may be found on the Discussion WWW site. It is your responsibility to make sure you have a copy of these papers. Discussion sections will be a combination of 1) discussion of key papers in evolutionary biology and 2) structured debates on an assigned topic. These take place on Friday.

Final Exam: Wednesday 11 December 8-11 a.m.


Section I: Evolutionary Mechanisms

26 AugMIntroduction - HIV (Nature of Science)Chapter 1
28 AugWEvidence for EvolutionChapter 2
30 AugFHistory and Foundations
2 SeptMNo Class - Labor Day
4 SeptWDarwinian EvolutionChapter 3
6 SeptFPopulation Genetics and H-WChapter 5
9 SeptMMendelian GeneticsChapter 6
11 SeptWPopulation Structure and Genetics (continued)
13 SeptFNatural Selection (continued)
16 SeptMQuantitative Genetics (Heritability)Chapter 7
18 SeptWMolecular EvolutionChapter 18

Section II: Adaptive Evolution

20 SeptFInvestigating AdaptationChapter 8
23 SeptMAdaptive Explanations and Constraints
25 SeptWSelection (levels and types)Chapter 10
27 SeptFFitness Components (Survival and Fecundity), Life HistoriesChapter 11
30 SeptMEvolution of SexChapter 7
2 OctWImportance of Ecology (e.g. Sex Determination, Co-Evolution, etc.)
4 OctFSexual SelectionChapter 9
Debate #1 in Lab
(Cloning Humans)
7 OctMPractice Exam #1

Section III: History of Life

9 OctWCambrian Explosion: Jackie guest lecturerChapter 15
11 OctFNo lecture or lab: Work on Term Paper
14 OctMOrigins of Life: Matt guest lecturerChapter 14
16 OctWHuman Evolution: Tim White guest lecturerChapter 16
18 OctFExam #1 (Covers Sections I and II)
21 OctMMechanisms of SpeciationChapter 12
23 OctWAdaptive Radiations
25 OctFSpecies Concepts
28 OctMSpecies Concepts and Implications
30 OctWPhylogeneticsChapter 13
1 NovFReconstructing Phylogenies
4 NovMMolecular Clock and Models of Evolution
6 NovWMacroevolutionary Change and ExtinctionMatt Wedel
8 NovFUses for Phylogenies (Health, Biogeography, Law, ...)
11 NovM No Class - Veterans Day

Section IV: Using Evolutionary Theory

13 NovW Term Papers Due by 5 p.m. No Lecture
15 NovFBiodiversity and the Pattern of LifeDebate #2 in Lab
(Church and State)
18 NovMConservation and EvolutionCraig Moritz
20 NovWEnvironmental Context of Evolutionary ChangeCatherine Graham
22 NovFNovelty in Evolution: Rachel Mueller guest lecturerChapter 17
25 NovMEvolvability (Development)John Gerhart
27 NovW Cultural Evolution and BehaviorVicki Wedel
29 NovFThanksgiving Break
2 DecMEnvironmental and Historical Influences on Speciation: Comparative phylogeographyLeslie Rissler
4 DecWCurrent Research in Evolution:
Evolution and Development of Skeletal Structures
Jackie and Matt
6 DecFLast Day of Class: Course Review
(No Lab)

Final Exam: Wednesday 11 December 8-11 a.m.