BIO120 Fall 2012 Course Syllabus

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19 Nov 2012

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BIO120H1F – Adaptation & Biodiversity
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
Course Syllabus – Fall 2012
The BIO120H team
Prof. James Thomson
(Lectures 1-11)
Prof. Spencer Barrett
(Lectures 12-23)
Corey Goldman, Course Coordinator
Jill Wheeler, Laboratory Coordinator
Tammy Pecoskie, Course Administrator
Emily Austen , Lecture TA + many Laboratory Teaching Assistants
Dom Fenech and Mary Ann Honig, Laboratory Technicians
BIO120H office –
- Please direct all course enquiries to the BIO120 office; the office will re-direct enquiries as appropriate.
- ES 3045A (Earth Sciences Centre, enter off 33 Willcocks, take stairs to third floor), 416-978-7588
- Please include “BIO120” in subject line of emails, and be sure to include your full name and student number.
- Office hours: see “Contacts” page on course site on the Portal.
Course description
Principles and concepts of evolution and ecology related to origins of adaptation and biodiversity. Mechanisms
and processes driving biological diversification illustrated from various perspectives using empirical and
theoretical approaches. Topics include: genetic diversity; natural selection; speciation; physiological, population
and community ecology; maintenance of species diversity; global environmental change ; conservation, species
extinction, and invasion biology. Prerequisite: Grade 12 Biology or equivalent. Exclusion: BIO150Y1Y.
Course objectives
1. A goal of this course is to provide you with a solid foundation in evolutionary and ecological principles and
concepts—as related to the origins of adaptation and biodiversity—so that you can make informed decisions
on pressing societal issues, such as population growth, global environmental change, and the conservation of
biodiversity, and be prepared for advanced study in the biological sciences.
2. Darwinian evolution is the unifying concept in biology and explains biodiversity on earth and why species
differ. You will learn that the traits of organisms are the product of a complex interplay between natural
selection, genetic variation, and constraints imposed by evolutionary history.
3. You will learn that adaptive evolution is a process that results from selection pressures imposed by the
physical and biotic environment on individuals within populations. The ecological challenges of capturing
resources for growth, successful reproduction, and avoiding enemies largely determine the ways organism’s
4. Required reading of selected articles from the Nature Scitable online library will extend and reinforce lecture
material on how natural systems work and how diverse organisms respond to the challenges of the natural
world. From reading Why Evolution is True, you will learn how various independent lines of evidence
demonstrate the fact of evolution and give insight into its mechanisms, particularly adaptation by natural
5. In the laboratories you will learn to make observations, devise hypotheses, and conduct experiments in
ecology and evolutionary biology, including critically evaluating and communicating (both orally and in
writing) hypotheses and experimental designs.
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BIO120H1F Syllabus – Fall 2012
Required course materials (#1 and #2 are available from the U of T Bookstore)
1. BIO120 Laboratory Manual Fall 2012 (Read Chapters 1 and 6 before your first lab)
Note: You cannot use previous lab manuals (e.g., if you took BIO120 in a previous session, you cannot re-use
your lab manual), as the manual is revised each year.
2. Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne (paperback edition, Penguin)
3. Selected articles available online (free) from the Ecology section of Nature Education’s Knowledge Project;
details are provided on the course site on the Portal.
Course site on the Portal
The BIO120 site on the U of T Portal ( contains: copy of this course syllabus, announcements,
lecture slides and audio files, lab-related content, discussion board, test and lab marks, reading quizzes and
sample test questions. Only students who are enrolled in BIO120 on ROSI have access to this site (within 24-48
hours after enrolling). It is mandatory that you check the announcements at least once a week. For information
about setting up your UTORid, logging into the Portal, and using Blackboard, please visit:
- Day section (L0101): Monday and Wednesday 10:10-11:00 a.m. in Convocation Hall (CH)
- Evening section (L5101 and L2001): Wednesday 6:10-8:00 p.m. in ES 1050 (Earth Sciences Centre Auditorium, 6
Bancroft Ave.)
- See table on page 5 of this syllabus for schedule of lectures.
- Students can attend either lecture section, but note that seating is limited in the evening.
- There is a folder for each lecture under “Lectures” on the Portal. Each folder contains:
- Lecture slides: These will be available on Friday afternoon for Monday lectures, and on Tuesday afternoon
for Wednesday lectures. To conserve paper and ink, we request that you consider printing: six slides per page,
on both sides of a page or use previously used paper, and use only black ink.
- Audio files: Audio files of Monday and Wednesday day lectures will be available on the Portal on
Thursday. (Note that there is no guarantee that audio files will be available for a given lecture, as it is possible
that recording equipment could fail.) Evening lectures are not recorded.
- Required readings: The pages that you are required to read before each lecture will be posted on the Portal.
Lecture tutorials
These are the times when you can ask the lecturer questions about the content of the lectures: Mondays 5:10-6:00
p.m. in ES 1050, and Wednesdays 8:00-9:00 p.m. after the evening lecture (also in ES 1050). You can attend either
the Monday or Wednesday session or both; attendance is optional. Format is “question and answer.”
Laboratories (also read the BIO120 Laboratory Manual for detailed information)
- Check the “My Grades” link on Portal by 5:00 pm on Friday, Sept. 14; there will be a column that shows the
week, day, time and room number of your lab.
- Labs are held in alternate weeks (bi-weekly); see the detailed lab schedule in your BIO120 Laboratory Manual.
- Week 1 (P**01) labs begin the week of Sept. 17; Week 2 (P**02) labs begin the week of Sept. 24.
- All labs are held on the first floor of the Ramsay Wright (RW) building, 25 Harbord St.
- Labs are 3 hours in length. Tues., Wed., and Thur. afternoon labs begin at 1:30; Thur. evening labs begin at 6:10;
and Fri. morning labs begin at 11:10 am. (There are no BIO120 labs on Mondays.)
- A lab coat is required for Labs 2, 3, and 4.
- Preparation for Lab 1: Read Chapters 1 and 6 in the BIO120 Laboratory Manual Fall 2012.
- If you are not enrolled in a practical section on ROSI, please contact Tammy Pecoskie at
- Procedures for requesting a temporary lab change (for example, due to illness) are discussed in the “Important
Policies and Procedures” section on page 4 of this syllabus.
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