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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Karen E. Petersen
ZOOL 451
Seattle Campus

Vertebrate Zoology

The biology of vertebrate animals, emphasizing their diversity, adaptations, and evolutionary history. Introduces aspects of behavior, physiology, morphology, and ecology that emerge from the comparative study of vertebrates. Laboratory includes local field trips, films, and introduction to regional vertebrate fauna. Prerequisite: either BIOL 102, BIOL 180, or both BIOL 202 and BIOL 203.

Class Description

In the lab, students will learn how to identify selected taxa (orders, families & sometimes species) of North American vertebrates using taxonomic keys and unique external anatomical features. The taxa selected will emphasize species found in Washington, but may include a few taxa from other parts of the U.S. In addition, they will learn a set of life history characteristics for each group, primarily general diet, habitat preferences and reproductive methods.

In the lectures, students will learn about the evolutionary history of the major living groups of vertebrates. patterns in their biogeographic distribution and species diversity. The course will also focus on life histories and specialized locomotory and reproductive behaviors of a few Washington taxa. Unique sensory & feeding adaptations, and other specialized behavioral patterns will also be described.

Students will access course information, including lecture & lab notes, review questions, study advice and old exams, from the web pages for the course.

Lectures meet 3 times per week for 60 minute sessions. During lectures, students are encouraged to ask questions. Students will be divided into teams that will debate 4-6 evolutionary controversies during the quarter. Each team will be divided into units that will present the opposing arguments. Teams can present their views using overheads, powerpoint, or web pages for student review.

The lab notes include a list of the taxa to identify, the unique traits of each taxon, taxonomic keys, and the specific life history traits for each group to be learned. Preserved specimens will be examined in lab, either in alcohol, or as skulls & skeletons or dried skins. Students may work alone in pairs on a poster. Students will select a vertebrate from a list of endangered species & then they must present information in a poster format on its geographic distribution, identification, natural history, reasons for endangerment & recent work on restoration of the species. The poster should provide cited sources of information. Posters will be set up in the lab for other students to examine.

Recommended preparation

Lecture exams are dervied from the review questions, which will be based on lecture notes or specific text assignments. Students that attend lectures, study & prepare answers to the review questions should do well.

Success on the laboratory exams requires some facility with scientific names & details. Students must identify specimens on a lab practical & then be able to name it or give some of its relevant natural history facts. Correct specimen identification usually requires lots of work examining specimens in the laboratory. Digital photographs of the specimens will be available online to aid review. Lab exams often ask comparison questions such as "Which of these specimens belongs to a different family than the rest? or Which specimens are herbivores? or Which specimens belong to the same order?"

Class Assignments and Grading

Students will be expected to attend at least 1 all day field trip to identify vertebrates in natural areas or 2 short (~ half day) field trips. Several field trips will be scheduled, so that students can chose among the trips. Each student will be responsible for the identification of different groups of vertebrates, using provided field guides.

There are 3 lecture exams given during the quarter, each one worth 75 points. Two laboratory practicals are given, each worth 90 points. Attendance & participation on the field trip(s) is worth 15 points. The poster project is worth 25 points and the debate project is worth 20 points. Bonus questions are usually found on lecture & lab exams for extra credit.

The total possible is 450 points.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Zoology 451
Last Update by Karen E. Petersen
Date: 06/24/2002