The two primary objectives of this course are to provide students with (1) an understanding of the conceptual framework that unifies biological science, and (2) an appreciation for the diversity and abundance of a group of organisms that comprises over 95% of the animal species on Earth. These two objectives are emphasized because (a) a conceptual understanding of biological science is fundamental to creative thought in this field, and (b) the diversity of invertebrate and vertebrate species provides excellent examples of these central principles. An understanding of this framework will permit students to comprehend (and propose their own) scientific explanations for the distribution, abundance and diversity of species. Description and classification of species can then become an exercise in scientific exploration, rather than simply one of rote memorization.
This 4-credit course includes lecture and laboratory components. It is a survey of the "lower invertebrate" phyla (Porifera through Chordata, including Blastocoelomates), using selected taxa to illustrate concepts in evolution, systematics, physiology, morphology, life history, ecology and behavior. Note that "lower invertebrates" (as opposed to "higher invertebrates," that is, Brachiopoda through Arthropoda) refers in this course neither to relative complexity nor similarity to vertebrates for the organism in question. Instead, these terms refer to the apparent order in which a taxonomic group appears to have arisen over evolutionary time within the Kingdome we call Animalia. Lectures will concentrate on organizing and interpreting information about invertebrate and vertebrate animals to illustrate (1) evolutionary relationships within and among taxa, and (2) adaptations that permit species to inhabit particular environments. Laboratories will provide living and preserved examples of taxa described in lecture and in reading assignments, as well as experimental procedures that will permit students to explore "animal” organization and body function. The practical aspects of this course allow for students to improve their drawing skills and develop some basic skills in the respectful and conservative handling of specimens.
- Teacher: Lisa Caleb