Course Objectives for Students:

  • To be able to describe the evidence for evolution.
  • To understand how populations, species, and biotas change through micro- and macro-evolutionary time-scales.
  • To be able to “think like a mutation.”
  • To be able to describe the major approaches to the study of evolution, including observational, experimental and comparative approaches, and their strengths and weaknesses
  • To relate evolutionary biology to pertinent conservation, medical, and social issues.
  • To improve their writing in general, and gain expertise in formal scientific writing in particular.
  • To be able to read and critically evaluate primary literature in the field of evolution.
  • To gain experience posing and testing hypotheses.


Course Objectives for Instructors:

  • To promote active learning.
  • To create learning environments in which all students feel welcome to participate.
  • To provide timely, constructive, and fair feedback.


Prerequisites: Biol 20A, Bioe 20B, Bioe 20C, and Biol 105 (Genetics)

Text: Evolutionary Analysis, 5th Edition by Scott Freeman and Jon C. Herron,

(will be on reserve in Science Library)

Required course materials: none but you might consider getting the textbook if you like to have a written support

Professor: Giacomo Bernardi, bernardi (at)

Office Hours: by appointment, my office is at the Long Marine Lab

Class web site: you found it, congratulations!

TAs: Jason Toy, Liam Zarri, Taylor White


Overview of Grading System: 

Discussion sections    25% (section is worth 12.5%; SimBio 12.5%)

Midterms   25% each

Final            25%


Disciplinary Communication Assignments

  • Our goal is to help students improve their writing without the anxiety of having the writing assignments contribute quantitatively to the course grade. We seek to provide constructive and useful feedback.
  • Disciplinary Communication (DC) assignments will be assessed on a pass/no-pass basis, and you cannot pass the class without receiving an overall passing grade on the DC assignments.
  • Writing assignments will involve writing, reviewing, or rewriting scientific papers. They will be described in detail in class and/or section and will be posted on the course website under “Assignments”.
  • Turning in writing assignments late or exceeding the page/margin/font size limits will contribute to a “no-pass” grade for a writing assignment.
  • Students receiving a “no-pass” grade on their first assignment are required to meet with a TA about their writing at some point during the quarter in order to achieve an overall passing grade on the DC assignments.
  • In order to achieve an overall passing grade on the DC assignments, students must complete every writing assignment, receive passing scores on all but the first assignment, and meet with a TA about their writing (if required, see above).
  • Detailed grading rubrics will be available for each assignment prior to the due date.


Midterm and Final exams

  • Midterm exam  will account for 40% of final grade
  • Final exam will account for 40% of grade.
  • Final will not be cumulative, but may have a few bonus questions about early lectures.
  • Make-up exams are not offered except under extraordinary (and documented) circumstances, and may be in a different format (oral or essay) than standard exams.
  • The format of both exams will be multiple choice. Material from the SimBio labs and the discussion section readings is fair game for testing on the exams.


Discussion Sections

01A DIS 40082 W 02:40PM-03:45PM Staff N. Sci Annex 103  Taylor
01B DIS 40083 Th 09:50AM-10:55AM Staff N. Sci Annex 103  Jason
01C DIS 40084 Tu 01:30PM-02:35PM Staff N. Sci Annex 102  Liam
01D DIS 40085 M 07:10PM-08:15PM Staff N. Sci Annex 102  Liam


  • Attendance at section is mandatory.
  • There is assigned reading from the primary literature for each discussion section. Readings are posted on the course website under “Resources”, and the schedule is detailed below.
  • You are expected to complete the readings before coming to section.




Discussion Section Readings (starting with # 1 but no section on first week of class)

Week Date Paper(s)
2 Darwin, C. and A. R. Wallace. 1858. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Zoology) 3: 45-62.

Optional: Pennock, R.T. 2003. Creationism and intelligent design. Annu. Rev. Genomics Hum. Genet. 4: 143-163.

3 Grant, P.R., and B.R. Grant. 2002. Unpredictable evolution in a 30-year study of Darwin’s finches. Science 296: 707- 711.
4 Fry, B. G., et al., 2006. Early evolution of the venom system in lizards and snakes. Nature 439:584-588.
5 Tishkoff, S.A., et al. 2007. Convergent adaptation of human lactase persistence in Africa and Europe. Nature Genetics 39: 31 – 40
6 Writing assignment discussion.
7 Basolo, A. L. 1995. Phylogenetic evidence for the role of a pre-existing bias in sexual selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society – Biological Sciences 259:307-311.
8 Heath, D.D., J.W. Heath, C.A. Bryden, R.M. Johnson, and C.W. Fox. 2003. Rapid evolution of egg size in captive salmon. Science 299: 1738-1740.
9 Pianka: on r- and K-selection.  The American Naturalist, Vol. 104, No. 940 (Nov. – Dec., 1970), pp. 592-597
10 Savolainen et al. 2006. Sympatric speciation in palms on an oceanic island. Nature


Academic Integrity

Please don’t cheat, it is not cool, and puts me in a situation I don’t like at all.

Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating academic dishonesty. Everything you turn in must be your own expression of your understanding of the material. Academic misconduct in any part of the course may lead to failing the particular assignment and the course, and may result in disciplinary sanctions.

Please see:

You are welcome and encouraged to discuss papers and assignments with each other, but copying or paraphrasing of someone else’s work is not acceptable. Borrowing from work from previous years is not okay. Also, copying directly from, or cutting and pasting from, published work, including the internet, even if you cite the author, is considered plagiarism. Always put it in your own words. The consequences of cheating and academic dishonesty —including no credit for the work done, a formal discipline file, possible loss of future internship, scholarship, employment opportunities, or admission to graduate school—are simply not worth it. I always report students caught plagiarizing to their college for disciplinary sanctions, even if it was an accident, a small amount of plagiarism, or the first time they have been caught.


DRC Accommodation

If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please submit your Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to me after class or during my office hours in a timely manner, preferably within the first two weeks of the quarter. Contact DRC at 831-459-2089 or by email at