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Undergraduate Study

Second Year Courses

BIO2014F Principles of Ecology & Evolution

A compulsory weekend field camp.

24 NQF credits at HEQSF level 6

Convener: Associate Professor G A Verboom

Course entry requirements: BIO1000F or BIO1000H, BIO1004F/S, STA1007S

Course outline:

This course begins with an exploration of the mechanisms by which populations evolve and ultimately give rise to the entities that we term species. Building on this, it then explores the nature of the genealogical relationships between species (phylogeny), and the manner in which these are estimated in practice. The focus then shifts to abiotic and biotic controls on the distribution of species and higher taxa in nature, as viewed through the lens of niche theory, as well as constraints on the adaptability of populations or species to changing selective conditions. Finally, the course explores life history variation amongst organisms, including the factors that regulate its evolution and its demographic consequences. The latter provides context for a brief introduction to population ecology. Lectures provide theoretical background, while practicals and the compulsory field trip provide hands-on experience of material taught in lectures, as well as training in basic research techniques.

Lecture times: Monday-Friday, 2nd period, Practicals: One per week, Monday, 14.00-17.00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), 40% for the class record, attendance of all practicals, submission of all assignments on schedule and attendance of a weekend field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination, written in June, with a subminimum of 40%, counts 50% of the course mark. The class record, which counts for the balance, is made up as follows: practicals count 15%, the field camp report counts 15% and two class tests count 20%.


 

BIO2015F Vertebrate Diversity & Functional Biology

A compulsory field camp.

24 NQF credits at HEQSF level 6

Convener: Dr G N Bronner

Course entry requirements: BIO1000F/H, BIO1004F/S

Course outline:

This course begins with an overview of the evolution, characteristics, diversity, morphology, and life histories of the different craniate classes, paying particular attention to adaptations underlying the success of the vertebrates. Distinctive or advanced biological features of each group are highlighted and their ecological/economic importance briefly considered. The rest of the course comprises integrative, cross-taxonomic modules on the functional biology of vertebrates, notably locomotion, sensory systems, metabolism, homeostasis and behaviour. The course includes a strong practical component to demonstrate the links between form and function; as well as a compulsory 4-day field camp during which students will be trained in methods for studying the diversity, ecology and behaviour of selected vertebrate groups.

Lecture times: Monday – Friday, 3rd period, Practicals: One per week, Wednesday, 14.00-17.00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), 40% for class record, attendance of all practicals, submission of assignments on schedule and attendance of the field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour theory examination written in June, with subminimum of 40%, will count 50% of the course mark. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: practical classes (eight deliverables) count 15%, project report based on field camp data counts 15%, two class tests together count 20%.


 

BIO2016S Invertebrate Diversity & Functional Biology

A compulsory five-day field camp.

24 NQF credits at HEQSF level 6

Convener: Dr D Pillay

Course entry requirements: BIO1000F/H, BIO1004F/S

Course outline:

The course exposes students to the diversity of invertebrates and their functional biologies. Topics will be presented within an evolutionary framework to emphasise past and contemporary selective pressures driving diversification. Students will be exposed to key topics in functional biology across the major invertebrate groups and will include cellular to organism level processes. The course begins with an introduction to the evolution of the invertebrates and the major phyla. This leads to an exploration of invertebrate functional biology, with an emphasis on key adaptations across the aquatic–terrestrial gradient. Lectures, practicals and field trips will expose students to contemporary philosophical, methodological and conceptual approaches used in the field of invertebrate functional biology and diversity.

Lecture times: Monday – Friday, 3rd period, Practicals: One per week, Wednesdays, 14.00-17.00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), 40% for the class record, attendance of all practicals, submission of all assignments on time and attendance for the full duration of a five-day field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination, written in November, with a subminimum of 40%, counts for 50% of the course mark. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: practicals count 15%, the field camp report counts 15% and two class tests count 20%.


 

BIO2017S Plant Diversity and Functional Biology

A compulsory four-day field camp.

24 NQF credits at HEQSF level 6

Convener: Dr S B M Chimphango

Course entry requirements: BIO1000F or BIO1000H, BIO1004F/S

Course outline:

The course begins with a discussion on the nature and origin of plants that includes an overview of major autrotrophic eukaryote lineages. The benefits and challenges of life in water and on land are also presented. Diversity and evolution of life histories and reproductive systems in plants and consequences of the diversity of major plant lineages are studied. The functional biology of the major organs of the plant including roots, stems and leaves in relation to strategies for resource acquisition and utilisation, mineral nutrition, plant water relations and carbon metabolism are considered. This entails studying variations in root, stem and leaf morphologies in various plant lineages and unique terrestrial and aquatic environments and their function in water, nutrients and carbon metabolism. There is a strong focus on African plants, and a particular emphasis on the Cape Floristic region. The course practicals are compulsory and complements the theory with hands-on experience on working with different lineages of plants, data collection and analysis from scientific studies and experiments, and scientific writing. A compulsory 4-day field camp is undertaken for students to study the relationship between ecology and plant morphology, function and diversity.

Lecture times: Monday – Friday, 2nd period, Practicals: One per week, Thursdays, 14.00-17.00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), 40% for class record, attendance at practicals, submission of all assignments on time and attendance of a four-day field camp.

Assessment: A 3 hour examination written in November, with a subminimum of 40%, counts 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes count 20%, project based on field camp counts 10%, two class tests count 20%.