Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior

About the Course

This course presents the principles of evolution, ecology, and behavior for students beginning their study of biology and of the environment. It discusses major ideas and results in a manner accessible to all Yale College undergraduates. Recent advances have energized these fields with results that have implications well beyond their boundaries: ideas, mechanisms, and processes that should form part of the toolkit of all biologists and educated citizens.

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Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus three times per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2009.

Course Materials

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About Professor Stephen C. Stearns

Stephen C. Stearns is the Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and specializes in life history evolution and evolutionary medicine. He was educated at Yale, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of British Columbia. His books include Evolution, an Introduction; Watching from the Edge of Extinction; and The Evolution of Life Histories, and he is the editor of Evolution in Health and Disease and The Evolution of Sex and Its Consequences. He founded and has served as president of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology and the Tropical Biology Association.

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Syllabus

Professor

Stephen C. Stearns, Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Description

This course presents the principles of evolution, ecology, and behavior for students beginning their study of biology and of the environment. It discusses major ideas and results in a manner accessible to all Yale College undergraduates. Recent advances have energized these fields with results that have implications well beyond their boundaries: ideas, mechanisms, and processes that should form part of the toolkit of all biologists and educated citizens.

Texts

Cotgreave, Peter and Irwin Forseth. Introductory Ecology. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd, 2002.

Krebs, John R. and Nicholas B. Davies. An Introduction to Behavioral Ecology, 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd, 1993.

Stearns, Stephen C. and Rolf Hoekstra. Evolution: An Introduction, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Requirements

There are two midterms and a paper. The sections are Writing Intensive and require writing exercises culminating in one 15-20 page review paper or research proposal in which you utilize readings from the original scientific literature to address a question that you pose. The course grade consists of 25% from each midterm and 50% from the essay/section grade.

Special feature: The course is designed to elicit your own, original questions about evolution, ecology, and behavior through interactions with a website featuring video and still images from the Galapagos and issues and questions posed by recent papers from the primary literature. Your writing project and your take-home final will address questions you posed yourself, then refined in response to feedback from your TF.

You may view the Galapagos site at http://cmi2.yale.edu/galapagos_public

Grading

Midterm examination 1: 25%
Midterm examination 2: 25%
Paper: 50%

Sessions

Lecture 1 The Nature of Evolution: Selection, Inheritance, and History
Lecture 2 Basic Transmission Genetics
Lecture 3 Adaptive Evolution: Natural Selection
Lecture 4 Neutral Evolution: Genetic Drift
Lecture 5 How Selection Changes the Genetic Composition of Population
Lecture 6 The Origin and Maintenance of Genetic Variation
Lecture 7 The Importance of Development in Evolution
Lecture 8 The Expression of Variation: Reaction Norms
Lecture 9 The Evolution of Sex
Lecture 10 Genomic Conflict
Lecture 11 Life History Evolution
Lecture 12 Sex Allocation
Lecture 13 Sexual Selection
Lecture 14 Species and Speciation
Lecture 15 Phylogeny and Systematics
Lecture 16 Comparative Methods: Trees, Maps, and Traits
Lecture 17 Key Events in Evolution
Lecture 18 Major Events in the Geological Theatre
Lecture 19 The Fossil Record and Life's History
Lecture 20 Coevolution
Lecture 21 Evolutionary Medicine
Exam 1 Midterm Exam 1
Lecture 22 The Impact of Evolutionary Thought on the Social Sciences
Lecture 23 The Logic of Science
Lecture 24 Climate and the Distribution of Life on Earth
Lecture 25 Interactions with the Physical Environment
Lecture 26 Population Growth: Density Effects
Lecture 27 Interspecific Competition
Lecture 28 Ecological Communities
Lecture 29 Island Biogeography and Invasive Species
Lecture 30 Energy and Matter in Ecosystems
Lecture 31 Why So Many Species? The Factors Affecting Biodiversity
Lecture 32 Economic Decisions for the Foraging Individual
Lecture 33 Evolutionary Game Theory: Fighting and Contests
Lecture 34 Mating Systems and Parental Care
Lecture 35 Alternative Breeding Strategies
Lecture 36 Selfishness and Altruism
Exam 2 Midterm Exam 2

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in EEB 122 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.

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