GEN-11306 Evolution and Systematics


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (one day)4
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. JAGM de Visser
Lecturer(s)dr. DK Aanen
dr. R van Velzen
prof. dr. JAGM de Visser
prof. dr. BJ Zwaan
Examiner(s)prof. dr. JAGM de Visser

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

BIS-30306 Advanced Biosystematics;
GEN-20306 Molecular and Evolutionary Ecology;
GEN-30306 Genetic Analysis Trends and Concepts;
GEN-30806 Population and Quantitative Genetics.


Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with PBR-21306 Biosystematics, evolution and agrobiodiversity.
All living things have evolved and continue to do so. Evolutionary biology studies the history of that process and the mechanisms that cause it to happen. This introductory course treats microevolution (the short-term evolutionary dynamics occurring within populations and species), organismal design by selection for reproductive success, and macroevolution (evolutionary change above the species level). It distinguishes between the two general methodologies to study evolution: the direct experimental study of processes (often using microbes in the laboratory) and the comparative method that interprets patterns of evolutionary products. These are the specific themes and subthemes that will be treated: microevolutionary concepts, design by selection for reproductive success, principles of macroevolution, the history of life, integrating micro- and macroevolution.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- define and describe important evolutionary concepts, including natural selection, genetic drift, phylogeny, reproductive system, genomic conflict, life history traits, sexual selection, biological species and speciation;
- apply evolutionary concepts in explanations of biological phenomena;
- explain the role of genetics in evolution;
- describe in general terms the history of life on earth and the role of geological changes;
- apply species concepts in a biosystematic and evolutionary context;
- use phylogenies to analyse historical biogeography and macro-evolution of traits;
- reconstruct phylogenies using relevant data.


In total (parts of) 16 book chapters will be studied. For each chapter the following activities are planned:
- first the student reads the chapter and performs a short quiz (self test), then one or two lectures about the chapter will focus on the essential concepts and will provide illustrations, as well as information required for the tutorials;
- after the lectures the student will work on solving problems during supervised tutorials or practicals.
- an excursion to Burgers' zoo, including a lecture by Prof. Jan van Hooff on sexual selection in primates and guided visit to the chimp colony.


- written individual exam with open questions (80% or 100%, see next point);
- tutorial group assignments, individual quizzes and data collection (together 20%, as bonus: only if higher than written test).
Minimal mark for the written exam is 5.0, minimal combined mark is 5.5


Herron & Freeman (2015) Evolutionary Analysis. Pearson. 5th edition. Course guide, including study guide and assignments for tutorials. Brightspace with schedule, self tests, tutorial assignments student groups, Power-point files of lectures.

Compulsory for: BBIBiologyBSc4WD