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01:447:486- Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 143 pages long!)


Department
Genetic
Course Code
01:447:486
Professor
A.Kern
Study Guide
Midterm

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Rutgers
01:447:486
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Lecture 1: Course Details and Introduction
Goals: Develop a way of thinking about the diversity of life on earth. Ask the questions:
how do we account for biological diversity? how did it ”develop” (i.e., evolve)? how do we
analyze it? why are we here? Tall orders: No one formal approach or answer to these issues
A perspective: understand the space and time of the universe we live in
We tend to have an egocentric/anthropocentric view of our existence
SPACE: The planet earth, solar system, galaxy are one very, very minor part of it
TIME: The cosmic calendar, December 31 (from Sagan’s Dragons of Eden)
Some questions:
is there life out there? What does it look like?
Similar events? Does it use DNA?
If it uses DNA is this evidence for Creation or Evolution? Discuss these ideas with your
peers!
We’re going to be talking about genetic variation and the only way to make sense of it is
through the lens of evolutionary biology.
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WHAT IS EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY?
Evolutionary biology is the study of the patterns of organic diversity and the processes that
generate those patterns.
Fundamental Observations- Diversity: Notice diversity of form when you walk to class;
Notice diversity of humans in this room; birds and butterflies have a common ancestor, but
look very different. Think about the amazing diversity even within species: populations of
humans, breeds of dogs. Where does all this diversity come from? How is it maintained?
Evolutionary biology is also the study of the ”good” fit of organisms to their environments:
the study of adaptation. This involves both the recognition of a pattern (good fit) and
testing hypotheses of mechanism to account for the pattern. Good fit: leafy sea dragon
(camouflage); leaf katydids (camouflage); marine organisms with fusiform bodies (whales,
dolphins, tuna, etc.).
Evolution as Explanation
Hierarchy of organization in biology.
Evolutionary tree (”Cladogram”) of whale, seal, penguin, shark, sea snake: knowing the
relationships of these organisms gives us one level of ”appreciating the diversity” of the
natural world. Seals and penguins are distantly related but have comparable body forms for
life in water (see figure 1).
Proximate and ultimate causation (the how and why). Observing these patterns we want to
know why things are the way they are and how things came to be that way. Thorns on cacti:
why=to reduce predation(herbivory); how=those with spines: experience less predation:
more offspring? Warbler seasonal migration: why=more food, daylight, habitat; how=those
that left their wintering sites left more offspring?
Evolution provides an explanation for many issues of general human concern and welfare:
the population genetics used in DNA fingerprinting; natural selection that has resulted in
extremely dangerous of antibiotic resistant microbes; a new view of medical issues known
as Darwinian or Evolutionary medicine that addresses issues of why we get sick, whether to
treat a fever and why our knees and lower backs are frequent sources of mechanical failure;
and concern for the long-term genetic consequences of living and reproducing in our own
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