Evolution and Evolutionary Biology

Evolutionary biology is concerned with the origin and descent of species, as well as their change over time, and includes scientists from many taxonomically-oriented disciplines.

For example, it generally involves scientists who have special training in particular organisms such as mammalogy, ornithology, or herpetology, but use those organisms as systems to answer general questions about evolution.

Evolutionary biology is mainly based on paleontology, which uses the fossil record to answer questions about the mode and tempo of evolution, as well as the developments in areas such as population genetics and evolutionary theory.

What is it:

• Describe the basic tenets of ‘Darwinian evolution’:

i) Tree of Life concept;

ii) Natural selection, leading to adaptive evolution (including different modes of selection, and sexual selection).

• Articulate the concept of homology, and how biogeography and transitional fossils
provide evidence of evolution.
• Use the Hardy-Weinberg principle to calculate expected genotype and allele
frequencies (1 Locus, 2 Alleles).
• Define gene flow and genetic drift (and founder effect) and explain how they influence
allele frequencies in populations.
• Explain the ‘biological species concept’, and distinguish between and give examples of i) pre- and post-zygotic reproductive barriers; ii) allopatric and sympatric speciation (e.g,
polyploid speciation).
• Interpret the information in simple phylogenetic trees and taxonomies, distinguish
between monophyly, paraphyly and polyphyly.
• Demonstrate an understanding of molecular phylogenetics, including the concept of
tracing the evolutionary history of genes (e.g. gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer).
• Describe the most general attributes of the fossil record, including mass extinctions
(with examples) and adaptive radiations.
• Describe basic concepts that explain evolution of complex features (e.g. Evolution of
developmental regulation; concept of Exaptation)
• Describe the most basic similarities and differences between Bacteria, Archaea and
Eukaryotes, and the evolutionary relationships between ‘protists’ and animals, plants and fungi.
• Describe the phenomenon of (primary) endosymbiosis and its role in the origins of
mitochondria and plastids (chloroplasts).

Evolutionary Biology

History of Biological Evolution
Evidence of Evolution;
Evolution of Populations
Origin of Species
Phylogenetics and Systematics
Tree of Life & Microbial Diversity

Introduction to the Evolutionary Biology

Conspectus Evolutionary Biol
Evidence for evolution
Natural Selection
Reconstructing Phylogeny
Reconstructing Phylogeny
Mutation & Genetic variation
Population Genetics
Why Sex?
Quant Genetics
DNA Sequences:
Studying Adaptation
Sexual Selection
Why do we get old?
Life-History evolution
Speciation & Macroevolution

Molecular Evolution

1. Foundations
1.1 Introduction
1.2 History
1.3 Mutation and recombination
1.4 Review of probability and Likelihood

2. Population genetics
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium
2.3 Linkage disequilibrium
2.4 Inbreeding
2.5 Mutation
2.6 Assortative mating
2.7 Natural selection
2.8 Genetic Drift
2.9 Equilibrium polymorphism

3. Phylogenetics
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Phylogenetic homology
3.3 Phylogenetic methods

4. Neutral evolution
4.1 Genetic load
4.2 Neutral theory
4.3 Macroevolution
4.4 Molecular clock

5 Functional divergence
5.1 FFTNS and Shifting Balance
5.2 Structure and function of genes and proteins
5.3 Evolution of new genes
5.4 Evolution of the molecular tool box
5.5 Statistical tests
5.6 Case studies

6. Fun stuff
6.1 Ancient DNA studies
6.2 Paleomolecular Archaeology
6.3 Human origins

Darwinian theory

  1. The historical, cultural, and social framework that lead to the Darwinian theory of evolution
  2. Updates and extensions to the Darwinian theory that led to modern theory.
  3. Principles arising from the neo-Darwinian synthesis and neutral theory.
  4. Refutation of Darwinian theory