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Unit (2019)

Information on this page, including unit offerings, is from the 2019 academic year.

Animal Diversity (BIO244)

Organisational Unit Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Credit Points 3
Availability MURDOCH: S2-internal
Teaching Timetables Murdoch S2
Description This unit covers the systematics and morphology of the major groups of invertebrates and vertebrates, with emphasis on major evolutionary trends. How recent fossil finds and the development of molecular techniques are increasing our knowledge of the history of animal life and at times challenging traditional hypotheses will be explored. Students are expected to develop practical skills in using dichotomous keys, biological drawing and microscopy as well as acquiring a good theoretical background.
Unit Learning Outcomes On successful completion of the unit you should be able to:

1. Recognise and identify the phyla of animals and classes within phyla based on their morphology
2. List the major evolutionary developments that have occurred in the animal kingdom and explain their significance
3. Explain how evolutionary processes have given rise to the diversity of animal life that exists today and has existed in the Earth's past
4. Describe the body plans (e.g. acoelomate, pseudocoelomate, protostome, deuterostome) and life histories (i.e. how they feed, move, reproduce etc.) of the major groups of animals
Timetabled Learning Activities Lectures: 3 hours per week; laboratories: 4 hours weekly for 9 weeks.
Unit Learning Experiences The aim of Animal Diversity is to introduce you to the major groups of animals, their classification and the major evolutionary trends that have occurred within this Kingdom and within its major phyla. In the lectures, we will start the process by looking at earth history, phylogeny and classification. The unit then focuses on the major groups of fauna and their characteristics, i.e. what defines a particular group, what features contribute to its success, when did it arise and how it is related to other groups. Recent controversies in our understanding of animal relationships will be highlighted with appropriate groups so that students will come to realise that current views of animal evolutionary history are hypotheses that are constantly being tested and that our understanding of this history and animal relationships is itself constantly evolving. Students will be provided, at the beginning of semester and in the Unit Guide, with a series of questions covering the invertebrates and another covering the vertebrates that form the basis of the required study. These questions will be broad and require students to read extensively about major trends in the evolution of the animals and form the basis of the mid-semester and end of semester theory tests.
In the practicals students will learn how to identify the major groups of animals through examination of their morphology, and also examine in both live and preserved material those features that have led to the success of each group. Through providing a wide range of material for each group, students will also come to appreciate that although the members of a particular group may share certain diagnostic characteristics, these characteristics may be further modified to provide the great diversity of forms that are found in the most speciose groups. During the practical session students will keep a laboratory book that will include drawings and notes on the material they have examined. Material in the practicals will be examined in a mid-semester and end of semester test and students may take their laboratory books into these tests.
Assessment An essay (2,000 words) on a topic relevant to either vertebrate OR invertebrate zoology (20%).
Two Practical tests 20% each. In these tests students identify specimens at five stations with reasons, i.e. observable diagnostic characters and then asked a specific question(s) about the biology of the group.
Two Theory tests 20% each These multiple choice assessments will be used to assess the extent to which students understand and can apply fundamental concepts and evolutionary trends in animal biology.
The combination of questions in the practical and theory tests test students knowledge of the biology of individual groups and their broader understanding of the evolutionary history of animals.
Prerequisites BIO103 Introduction to Environmental Biology/Environmental Biology or BIO180 Introduction to Marine Biology
Exclusions Students who have successfully completed BIO261/BIO244 Animal Diversity may not enrol in this unit for credit.
Previously 2015: 'Animal Diversity'
Appears in these Courses/Majors:
see individual structures for context
Biological Sciences (BSc) [New in 2014]
Marine Biology (BSc) [New in 2017]
Marine Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Internet Access RequirementsMurdoch units normally include an online component comprising materials, discussions, lecture recordings and assessment activities. All students, regardless of their location or mode of study, need to have access to and be able to use computing devices with browsing capability and a connection to the Internet via Broadband (Cable, ADSL or Mobile) or Wireless. The Internet connection should be readily available and allow large amounts of data to be streamed or downloaded (approximately 100MB per lecture recording). Students also need to be able to enter into online discussions and submit assignments online.


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