Undergraduate

modules

Modules

BIO2029 : Vertebrate Biology

Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

To outline the evolution of the vertebrates by reference to the diversity of form and function shown by both fossil and present-day species, including their morphology, physiology, ecology and behaviour; use the vertebrates as an example group through which to illustrate the principles of phylogenetic reconstruction using cladistics; develop skills in dissection and illustration; to build on related Stage 1 modules (BIO1002, BIO1005, BIO1007).

The origins of the vertebrates and the systematics of fish are dealt with in BIO1002 and BIO1007.

Outline Of Syllabus

Our knowledge of the vertebrate fossil record and all aspects of the biology of living vertebrates give them an importance in biology quite apart from human membership of this group. The wealth of information available enables us to investigate evolution, function and mechanism across a diverse group of familiar organisms. We also give instruction in dissection technique and anatomical drawing, two skills not much practiced elsewhere in the curriculum.

LECTURES
The origin of vertebrates; evolution if jawless and jawed fish; fish function (locomotion, respiration, reproduction, feeding); present day diversity of fishes; evolution of amphibian and reptiles; origins of birds and mammals.

Avian diversity and classification; Bird function (flight, feeding, respiration and reproduction); Bird migration and navigation; Bird communication (vocalisations, plumage and displays).

Key characteristics of mammals; Monotremes and marsupials; Placental mammal diversity & systematics; Mammalian adaptations (feeding, locomotion, and reproduction).

Secondary adaptation to the aquatic environment: ecology, physiology & behaviour of seabirds, seals & cetacean

PRACTICALS
Anatomy of amphibian (dissection)
Thoracic and abdominal anatomy of birds (dissection)
Mammalian circulatory system and general internal anatomy (dissection)
Diving physiology (breath hold practical)

CAUTION: THIS MODULE INVOLVES CARRYING OUT DISSECTIONS. STUDENTS WHO FEEL UNABLE TO CARRY OUT SUCH WORK SHOULD NOT TAKE THIS MODULE. STUDENTS ARE CAUTIONED TO BE UP TO DATE WITH TETANUS PROTECTION.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Final Exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Revision for final exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading541:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical43:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00Study of lectures, Recap, Blackboard etc.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study43:0012:00Practical assessments and assessment preparation (Blackboard tests and formative assessment)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study43:0012:00Practical preparation
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study241:0024:00Lecture follow up
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide a conceptual understanding of and evidence for patterns in diversity, the underlying ecological theory of patterns and processes and the need for and design of conservation action at different scales; the practicals give students experience of analysing ecological datasets and exploring simulated scenarios using advanced numerical and computer based applications; the fieldwork classes expand on some biodiversity and conservation issues

The lectures provide a framework of principles, factual background and example material. The strongly factual basis of this module requires an above average amount of private study time. The three dissection practicals provide sufficient exposure for students to become proficient in this practical skill (with the help of demonstrators), and to become practised in the production of anatomical drawings. The diving physiology practical gives the student experience of measuring dynamic processes such as heart rate. Directed self-study of text books, papers and websites provide additional insights.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination902A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Computer assessment2M10Blackboard test - assessment of Dissection.
Computer assessment2M20Blackboard test - assessment of Dissection
Computer assessment2M20Blackboard test - Breath hold diving practical
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment2MBlackboard test - assessment of first dissection to allow students to learn skills and to practise the representation of dissection.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam format gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their breadth of knowledge and their deeper understanding of the lecture material. The first dissection is formatively assessed to encourage learning. The remaining practical sessions are assessed by Blackboard tests, these test the knowledge and understanding gained during the practical sessions.

Reading Lists

Timetable