BIS-30306 Advanced Biosystematics


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. FT Bakker
Lecturer(s)dr. FT Bakker
dr. S Simon
Examiner(s)dr. FT Bakker

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Basic concepts in systematics, as treated in Evolution and Systematics (GEN-11306). (MSc) students from outside WU should study chapters 12-17 from 'Evolution' (Stearns and Hoekstra, Oxford Univ. Press), used in GEN-11306.


The course focuses on the analysis of comparative data, at and above the species level. Apart from core systematics (i.e. taxonomy, phylogeny and speciation/domestication), the course also offers molecular evolution and biogeography, hands-on analytical experience, and confronts the students with current literature.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- reflect on the current state of systematic research, its challenges and possibilities
- summarize and compare the principles of plant and animal nomenclature
- critically discuss the most important species concepts used in current systematics
- explain the practice and application of DNA barcoding
- conduct a phylogenetic reconstruction + interpretation based on aligned DNA sequences, using both parsimony and model-based approaches such as maximum likelihood and Bayesian statistics
- conduct a comparative morphometric analysis
- explain principles & methods used in spatial analysis of biodiversity, i.e. biodiversity assessment, historical biogeographic reconstruction and molecular dating.


These include lectures, guided group-exercises and discussions, and the presentation of scientific papers, prepared by the students in groups of up to three. The phylogeny reconstruction practical includes hands-on exercises and lectures explaining the theoretical and philosophical background of the methods and criteria applied. Results are deposited in a 'Phylogeny Workbook'. In week 5 and 6, the students choose from several modules to conduct a mini-research project focusing on the analysis of comparative data, usually stemming from ongoing research projects elsewhere in and around the Plant Sciences Group community.


- a written exam (open questions) with a minimally required score of 5 (50%);
- assessment of the presentations of scientific papers (12.5%);
- results of modules of week 5 and 6 (25%);
- assessment of the 'phylogeny workbook' portfolio, incorporating the results of the various phylogenetic analyses (12.5%).


A reader will be made available at the start of the course, and use of the accompanying BlackBoard is essential for further reading, data sets and software, and weblinks to on-line analysis facilities.

Compulsory for: MBIBiologyMScE: Evolution and Biodiversity2AF