Karen E. Petersen
Comparison of the structure of vertebrate organ systems: integument, skeletal, muscle, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary, and reproductive, with an emphasis on evolutionary trends. Prerequisite: either BIOL 202 or BIOL 220; recommended: B STR 301; ZOOL 451. Offered: W.
The course follows the changes in design & function of the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary and reproductive systems through the evolution of vertebrates.
In particular, the class focuses on design changes associated with adaptations from an aquatic to a terrestrial life and the specialized features of endotherms.
Students learn the higher taxonomy of vertebrates and the major evolutionary relationships of these vertebrates. Finally, students learn the technical terms (language) associated with descriptions of these vertebrate organ systems.
Lectures are give 3 times a week for 50 minute sessions. I summarize some of the major points covered by the text book and present overview cladograms to highlight major evolutionary changes for each organ system.
The laboratory sessions meet 2 times a week for 3 hours each. Students will study approximately 1 organ system a week for 4 weeks. Then students are given 1 lab period for review before each lab practical exam.
Students need a good understanding of vertebrate evolution. Background in evolution is useful, in particular students will need to understand and use simple cladograms.
Students with a good memory for details or new terms have an advantage. The course work requires lots of memorization of structures and an ability to recognize both structural differences and similarities across different vertebrates.
Students who skip class and laboratory sessions do extremely poorly. Given the large volume of information, students can quickly fall behind & may never catch up.
Class Assignments and Grading
No specific homework assignments or lab reports are given.
Students are expected to complete their dissections in a timely manner, in order to learn (and see) the material that will be on the laboratory practicals. Students are given detailed checklists with the structures they are required to learn for the laboratory practicals.
Students are given detailed lists of review questions prior to each lecture exam and they have access to old exam keys as study aids. Students are encouraged to ask for help to develop answers & to attend review sessions prior to the exams.
Students must also work in teams of 3-4 students on two special projects. In the first, students must develop a poster that summarizes current evolutionary and anatomical information of a fossil group of vertebrates, information on current research & provide illustrations of those taxa. For lecture, each team must present a mini lecture or discussion on a special topic from a list I provide.
Three lecture exams are given of increasing levels of difficulty: the first exam is short & covers primarily introductory concepts & is worth 50 points, the second exam is longer and is worth 70 points, the final covers the last set of new material (70 points) and then adds a comprehensive section worth an additional 30 points. These exams test for knowledge of evolutionary trends, design adaptations, and embryonic development of organ systems.
The laboratory material is tested in two lab practicals, each worth 90 points. The first practical covers embryology, integument & skeletal materials. The second practical covers muscular, digestive, respiratory, circulatory & urogenital systems. These exams focus on specific identification of the structures identified using histological, skeletal & dissection materials from the laboratory.
The poster project is worth 20 points & the lecture project is worth 30 points and will be graded based on depth of information as well as presentation style.