Biogeography, Paleoecology, and Human Origins (BIO4317.01)

Kerry Woods

An exploration of ecological and evolutionary patterns in broad spatial and temporal perspective — “big picture” biology. Our questions are: What shapes patterns in biodiversity and in the ranges and distributions of organisms? How do ecological systems respond to long-term and large-scale changes in environment (glaciation, global climate change, plate tectonics, meteorite impacts and other global catastrophes…)? What are the mechanisms and patterns of macroevolution (speciation, adaptive radiation)? How do we study and understand the great trends and patterns of evolutionary history (origin(s) of life, mass extinction…) and the particular macroevolutionary history of our own lineage? These are arenas where standard experimental approaches have limited applicability; generation and testing of hypotheses call for creativity. We will act as both theorists and explorers, assessing the tools for rigorous study of these questions, while becoming acquainted with the grand history and vast richness of the biological world. Students will work extensively with the primary literature. Appropriate for intermediate and advanced students in biology and earth science.


Prerequisites: Previous work in college-level biology and/or earth science, or permission of instructor; some background in basic evolutionary biology desirable.
Credits: 4
M 2:10pm - 4:00pm; Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as All courses, Environment, Four Credit, 4000, Biology, Kerry Woods, and tagged , , , , .