This course focuses on the processes of evolution and the patterns generated by these processes. Aim is to develop a scientific way of thinking about biological diversity. It will address key components of evolutionary biology from the perspective of molecular evolution, from the perspective of individual organisms evolving attributes to cope with stresses and from a macro-evolutionary perspective. Natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection and inclusive fitness are used to develop an understanding of the behavioral, morphological and physiological adaptations of individual organisms to their environments, as well as an understanding of the interactions and co-evolutionary processes that occur between organisms both intra- and inter-specific.


CLO: 1. Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in evolutionary biology, the history of life on Earth, and phylogenetic relationships between organisms (Learning level: 2
CLO: 2. Explain (analyze) and interpret the methodologies for the reconstruction and interpretation of phylogenetic and biogeographic patterns and processes (learning level: 3)
CLO: 3. Evaluate the alternative theories that account for the diversity of life on earth (learning level: 4)


    The Conceptual Relationship of Ontogeny, Phylogeny, and Classification: The Taxic Approach
    o Topology and Homology: “First Principles” in Comparative Biology
    o Taxic and Transformational Homology
    o Is the Mammalian Stapes a Hyomandibula?
    o Differentiation versus Terminal Addition
    o Von Baer’s Laws of “Individual Development”
    o Paedomorphosis and Retrogressive Evolution Ontogenetic Divergence: An Example
    o Taxic Relations versus Developmental Plasticity
    o Discussion: Morphology and Development
    o Brief history of a concept: why be concerned by biological diversity?

    Evolutionary Processes
    o Origins of Evolutionary Theory
    o Genotypes and Phenotypes
    o Mutations
    o Selection
    o Evolution
    o The Red Queen Hypothesis
    o The Emergence of Diversity
    o Evolutionary Extinction
    o Examples

    History, Function, and Evolutionary Biology
    o Evolutionary Biology and Historical Science
    o Causality in Evolutionary Biology
    o The Gene’s-Eye View
    o The Biological Basis of Social Systems
    o A Better Way to Go

    Patterns and variation
    o Variation among individual
    o Populations and migration
    o Evolution and quantitative genetics Spontaneous Generation Revisited at the Molecular Level
    o From HCN to Nucleotides
    o Stability
    o Polymerization

    Minimal Cell Model to Understand Origin of Life and Evolution
    o Spontaneous Movement of Amphiphilic Self-assemblies
    o Dynamics of Self-reproduction Exhibited by Giant Vesicles
    o Self-replication of Informational Substances in a Giant Vesicle
    o Evolution Towards Artificial Cell

    History of an Extinct Reptilian Clade, the Choristodera: Longevity, Lazarus-Taxa, and the Fossil Record
    o History of Discovery
    o Recent Finds
    o The Relationships within Choristodera
    o The Relationships of Choristodera within Diapsida
    o The Choristodere Clade

    Phylogeny of Early Vertebrate
    o Fossil Record
    o Attaching muscles to an internal framework greatly improves movement
    o Nonvertebrate chordates have a notochord but no backbone
    o The vertebrates have an interior framework of bone
    o Agnathans and gnatostomes competition and progress
    o Hypothesis of feeding jawless vertebrates and scenarios of early vertebrate Evolution

    The evolution of vertebrates involves invasions of sea, land, and air
    o Fish
    o Amphbians
    o Reptiles
    o Birds
    o Mammals

    The Species Concept And Speciation
    o History of the species concept
    o The morphological species concept; The biological species concept; Phylogenetic, evolutionary and paleontological species concepts
    o The non dimensional species taxon versus the multi dimensional species concepts; Diverse properties of species; Species concept versus species category versus species taxon
    o Isolating mechanisms
    o Extrinsic isolating barriers versus intrinsic isolating mechanisms
    o Analysis of intrinsic isolation mechanisms and their reproductive costs
    o Speciation: General concepts
    o Geographical speciation – allopatric phase; Evolution of the separate properties of species
    o Genetic aspects of speciation, including concepts of genetic revolutions; Origin of intrinsic isolating mechanisms
    o Speciation: Geographical speciation – sympatric phase; Evolution of intrinsic isolation mechanisms to reduce reproductive costs
    o Speciation: Ecological events; Termination of the speciation process; Timing of speciation events
    o Speciation: Sympatric and parapatric speciation; Chromosomal aspects of speciation; Populational aspects of speciation
    o Speciation: Hybridization and polyploidy leading to new species; Polyploidy series in plants; Female species in animals

    Phylogenomics (Constructing Evolutionary Trees)
    o Types of trees
    o Types of Reconstruction
    o Modeling Nucleotide Evolution
    o Maximum Parsimony
    o NJ Method
    o Distance Matrix

    Cambrian Explosion
    o Precambrian Period
    o Biases in the fossil record
    o Fanna
    o Fossil track
    o Reasons of Explosion
    o Macroevolutionary patterns
    o Evolutionary Events

    Human Evolution
    o Taxonomy
    o Evolutionary steps
    o Closest Relative
    o Hominid relationships
    o Origin of genus Homo
    o Hominid species

    Analysis of Evolutionary Processes
    o Population Genetics
    o Individual-based Evolutionary Models
    o The Resident Mutant Model
    o Evolutionary Game Theory

    o Replicator Dynamics
    o Fitness Landscapes
    o Adaptive Dynamics
    o A Comparative Analysis
    o Evolutionary Branching and the Origin of Diversity

    o Introduction and history of concepts of macroevolution; Definition of macroevolution
    o Quantum theories of macroevolution; Arguments against these ideas
    o Macroevolution; The synthetic theory
    o Macroevolution: The synthetic theory (cont.); Mosaic evolution; Patterns and sources of selective demands
    o Cultural evolution. Punctuated equilibrium and Species selection; The analysis of some dubious concepts