Herpetology (BIO 158)
Herpetology as a course explores the global diversity of amphibians and reptiles, their evolution, unique phenotypes, the environments they occupy, their behavior and reproduction, physiology and conservation. This course contains required field component with three field trips with a focus on California herpetological diversity. One trip goes to Mt Madonna State Park, one troupes throughout the Mojave with Prof. Jim McGuire’s UC Berkeley Herpetology class, and another goes to Lake Camanche. Rob Shields, local CA environmental consultant, is involved in assisting in instruction on field techniques and provides a lecture on CA species of special concern. Lecture component focusses on aspects of herpetological biology and using cooperative learning to delve into the primary herpetological literature. Students will also interview herpetologists working in the field.
Taught Spring 2020, offered every second Spring semester.
Behavioral Ecology (BIO 189)
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why did that animal do that?”. This course will focus on developing an understanding of animal behavior from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. It reviews modern methodological, both empirical and theoretical, approaches to studying animal behavior. This class will also explore key topics in animal behavior, including foraging, social learning, dynamic predator/prey behavioral interactions, resource competition, group living, sexual selection, sperm competition, sexual conflict, parent-offspring conflict, mating system evolution, social behavior, cooperation, altruism, and communication. It will focus on how scientists study animal behavior and what has been learned about the evolution and ecology of animal behavior. The ultimate goal of this course is for students to learn to think like a scientist by identifying key questions, deciding how they should be studied and critically evaluating existing evidence.
Taught Fall 2017 and Spring 2017, offered every second Spring semester.
Evolution (BIO 141)
Evolution is the unifying theory of all the biological sciences. Whereas other biological disciplines describe what organisms do and how they do it, evolutionary biology explains why they do what they do in the way that they do – often incorporating data from both past and present to understand the world as it is now and provide perspective on the future. The importance and complexity of this problem means that rigorous analysis is essential to identify the most probable explanations – including the generation of testable hypotheses and proper use of observational and experimental data, as well as the use of mathematical models and statistics. Consequently, evolutionary biology is a very well developed and heavily studied field that can provide insights and predictions regarding a wide array of topics that are important to current and future generations of humans, including antibiotic resistance, climate change, disease evolution, overexploitation of natural resources. As such, it is essential for students in all the biological sciences, whatever their future career, to understand and to be able to use evolutionary methods and theory. This course is designed to enable you to develop these intellectual skills.
Taught Fall 2016, and Spring 2018.
Comparative Phylogenetic Methods (QSB 247)
This course reviews theory and experimental approaches in phylogenetic comparative methods (PCMs) to infer evolutionary dynamics and trait evolution. Topic areas include the scope, history and components of PCMs; models and analyses used in studying the evolution of continuous, discrete and multivariate traits; the justification for phylogenetic correction; sources of uncertainty, analytical assumptions, power and model adequacy in PCMs; and trait-dependent diversification. The course includes a review of PCM methods and their empirical application, including in-build tutorials as a walk-through analyzing data using different approaches and questions – these techniques are expected to provide students with the tools necessary to complete their term-projects. This course also utilizes directed readings and discussion of classical and current literature in PCMs. Students are expected to have completed college-level courses in evolution before taking this course.
Taught Fall 2018, offered every second Fall.