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GEOL3036 Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Patterns

AIMS

The aims are to provide students with:

  • A working knowledge of how phylogenetic trees are constructed, and the strengths and weaknesses of analytical methods;
  • An understanding of the role of phylogenetic trees in palaeontological research (e.g. functional morphology, biodiversity, biogeography etc.);
  • Non-phylogenetic approaches to macroevolutionary pattern reconstruction (e.g. taxic diversity estimation, morphometrics);
  • A clear appreciation of the history of life during the Phanerozoic, especially with regard to large-scale macroevolutionary patterns such as mass extinction events and the impact of geological/climatic change on organismal distributions.

A problem-oriented teaching approach will allow students to ask questions about the evolutionary history of a group of their choosing, and then attempt to answer such questions using the methods discussed in the course.

OUTCOMES

By the end of the course, students should:

  • Be able to build phylogenetic trees and use them as part of their palaeontological research;
  • Be able to select the appropriate methods and statistical tests for a particular palaeontological analysis.
  • Have an appreciation of current methodological problems and controversies relating to evolutionary history;
  • Be able to describe key evolutionary events that occurred during the Phanerozoic and discuss the competing explanations for such events.
  • Write a report summarizing our current state of knowledge of the evolution of a selected group of organisms, the quality of its fossil record, and what research needs to be carried out in the near future.

CONTENT

  • Explanation of the techniques used to construct and test evolutionary trees;
  • Use of such trees to study fossil record quality, biodiversity, biogeographic history, morphological evolution, mass extinctions etc;
  • A series of case studies illustrating the application of the above methods to real data (microfossils, invertbrates, vertebrates).
Title Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Patterns
UG Code GEOL3036
Coordinator Dr. Paul Upchurch
Other Contributors Dr. Anjali Goswami
Term 1 & 2
Credit 1.0 CU
Oral Exam 10% (viva voce exam, c. 10 minutes long, with two examiners)
Coursework 90% (9 pieces of work ranging from 500 to 5,000 words). 
Pre-Requisites GEOL1003 History of Life; GEOL2008 Vertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution is highly desirable.
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement None.
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 375 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 6 1-hour seminars
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes 40 hours
Hours of Tutorials 0
Days of Fieldwork 0
Other None
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Annual Monitoring

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Categorizing Student Performance Levels
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Moodle page

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Title Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Patterns
UG Code GEOL3036A
Coordinator Dr. Paul Upchurch
Other Contributors Dr. Anjali Goswami
Term
Credit 0.5 CU
Oral Exam 10% (viva voce exam, c. 10 minutes long, with two examiners)
Coursework

90% (three pieces of group work - 3000, 3000 and 5000 words; and one essay - 1000 words)

Pre-Requisites GEOL1003 History of Life; GEOL2008 Vertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution is highly desirable.
Maths & Stats Content and Requirement None
Total Number of Hours of Student Work 188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars 3 1-hour seminars
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes 20 hours
Hours of Tutorials 0
Days of Fieldwork 0
Other  
secure

Annual Monitoring

download pdf
Categorizing Student Performance Levels
download pdf
secure

Moodle page

Moodle page


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