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Biology 3301 - Evolutionary Theory


Galapagos Finches

"The most curious fact is the perfect gradation in the size of the beaks in the different species of Geospiza, from one as  group large as that of a hawfinch to that of a chaffinch, and (if Mr. Gould is right in including his sub-group, Certhidea, in the main), even to that of a warbler. The largest beak in the genus Geospiza is shown in Fig. 1, and the smallest in Fig. 3; but instead of there being only one intermediate species, with a beak of the size shown in Fig. 2, there are no less than six species with insensibly graduated beaks. The beak of the sub-group Certhidea, is shown in Fig. 4. The beak of Cactornis is some-what like that of a starling; and that of the fourth sub-group, Camarhynchus, is slightly parrot-shaped. Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends."  Charles Darwin, 1860, Journal of Researches ("Voyage of the Beagle," 3rd edition), pp. 379-380.

Biology 3301 - Evolutionary Theory
Syllabus, Spring 2018

Dr. Jon A. Baskin

Office: Kleberg Engineering 116 -- Telephone: 361 593-3580 -- e-mail: kfjab02 at tamuk.edu
Baskin's home page:  http:/users.tamuk.edu/kfjab02/

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Office Hours: 10-11:30 M, W, F;  9:30-11:30, T, R, or by appointment. University duties, such as committee meetings, may prevent me from being in my office. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to me before or after class or phone or email me at the office for an appointment.

BIOLOGY 3301   Evolutionary Theory 3(3-0)

Course Description: A study of Darwinism, mechanisms of evolutionary change,and a history of life in the context of contemporary biology.

Objectives:  This course approaches evolutionary biology as a process, illustrating the interplay between theory, observation, testing and interpretation. The student will be expected to examine and evaluate biological phenomena in light of the evolutionary processes that shaped them. When you have finished this course, if you have come to class regularly and taken complete and understandable notes and have studied for at least an hour a night, including reading the textbook and utilizing all the learning resources at the text book website, you should be able to answer the review questions posted on my web site and be able to earn a passing grade on the exams. See the schedule and website for the material you will be expected to know.

Required Text

Evolution: Making Sense of Life, 2nd edition.  Zimmer, Carl and Emlen, Douglas J.; 2016, 752 pages
PAPERBACK: ISBN: 9781936221554

The second edition has been updated and improved, and is the preferred text to buy, if you can afford it. However, the first edition covers much of the material as the second edition.
Evolution: Making Sense of Life Zimmer, Carl and Emlen, Douglas J.; 2013, 720 pages;
HARDBACK:ISBN: 9781936221172; PAPERBACK:ISBN: 9781936221363)



Web Sites of Interest



Your grade will be determined in the following manner:

Please keep all of your tests and assignments, in case there is a question concerning your grade in the course. Grades will be awarded according to the regulations on pages 70-71 of the 2017-2018 catalog.  The last day to drop the course with an automatic grade of Q is April 2.  After April 2, you cannot be awarded a Q and you will receive a grade based on your average. It is up to you to take care of all the necessary paperwork.  Before dropping a course you should consult tamuk.edu/registrar/drop_policy/..


Lecture Exams: The FOUR lecture exams and the FINAL exam will cover notes given in class and pertinent information from the textbook. Some notes will come from sources other than the text. The examinations will consist mainly of short answer questions, definitions, and characterizations taken from the review questions. The four exams will be over material covered during the exam period. The fourth exam will be given during finals week.

MAKE UP POLICY: There will be NO make-ups for missed lecture exams. If you miss one of the first three exams, the make-up will be the comprehensive final. The final can replace no more than one exam. You will receive a zero for any additional missed exams. In the case of crises and emergencies (that you can document and that are considered a valid excuse by your instructor), talk to me (or phone me) before the exam and more flexible arrangements can be scheduled.

Talking or other disruptive behavior during lecture will not be tolerated. Cell phones must be turned off.

Academic dishonesty includes giving, receiving, or using unauthorized aid on any academic work. This includes a person who has taken a test discussing what was on a test with a person who has not taken the test. Any student guilty of cheating or plagiarism will receive a grade of F.

Students with disabilities, including learning disabilities, who wish to request accommodations in this class should notify the Services for Students with Disabilities Office early in the semester so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Tentative Schedule

Week of



3 /pg

6 /page

Jan 16

 Ch 1: The Virus and the Whale: How Scientists Study Evolution  
 You can Download Chapter 1 from the book website.

Ch 1

ch. 1


Jan 22

Chapter 2: Biology From Natural Philosophy to Darwin
Chapters 3 & 4: Time, Life, and Phylogeny

Ch 2,
Ch 3&4,

ch. 2
ch. 3, 4

ch. 3, 4

Jan 29

Chapters 5: Raw Material Heritable Variation among Individuals

Ch 5

ch. 5

ch. 5

Feb 5

Chapter 6: The Ways of Change Drift and Selection


Ch 6

ch. 6 pt 1
ch. 6 pt 2

ch. 6 pt 1
ch. 6 pt 2

Feb 12

Chapter 7: Beyond Alleles: Quantitative Genetics and the Evolution of Phenotypes

Ch 7

ch. 7


Feb 19

 Chapter 8: Natural Selection: Empirical Studies in the Wild

Ch 8

ch. 8

ch. 8

Feb 26

Chapter 9: The History in Our Genes

Ch 9

ch. 9

ch. 9

March 5

Chapter 9: The History in Our Genes
EXAM 2  


ch. 9

Mar 12

Spring Break

Mar 19

Chapter 10: Adaptation From Genes to Traits

Ch 10

ch. 10

ch. 10

Mar 26

Chapter 11: Sex Causes and Consequences: Why Sex

Ch 11

ch. 11, part 1

ch. 1, pt 1

April 2
5 p.m

Last day to drop a course or withdraw from the university. Course dropped will receive a grade of Q.




April 2

Chapter 11: Sex Causes and Consequences: Sexual selection

Ch 11

ch. 11, part 2

ch. 11 pt 2,

Apr 9

Chapter 13: The Origin of Species


 Ch 13

ch. 13 

ch. 13

Apr 16

Chapter 13: The Origin of Species
Chapter 14: Macroevolution The Long Run



Apr 23

Chapter 14: Macroevolution The Long Run
Chapter 1.2 Viruses: deadly escape artists

Ch 14
Ch 1.2

ch. 14

ch. 14

April 30

Chapter 18: Evolutionary Medicine


Ch 18

ch. 18 pt 1
ch. 18 pt 2

ch.18 pt 1
ch.18 pt 2

May 7






Final Exam (Optional)*:  (check the final exam schedule yourself to make sure)


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