Evolutionary Processes from DNA to the Fossil Record

Fall 2018
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

marine science

We will explore the richness of evolutionary and biological processes that have resulted in the biodiversity of life on planet Earth. For a theory that is a central tenet in the understanding of biology, evolution is also perhaps the most misunderstood, abused and contentious of theories. We will refine our understanding of evolutionary biology through the study of microevolution and macroevolution, appreciate the myriad processes by which evolution manifests and is realized in biology, all while paying close attention to the ways in which evolutionary theory is mis-applied socio-politically.

As we study microevolution, students will solidify their understanding of the molecular biological processes by which DNA, genes and chromosomes are modified within organisms and populations. We will investigate different concepts of "individuals" and "species," and their scientifically contentious understandings. After setting a foundation with concepts in population genetics, students will apply those ideas to biodiversity conservation. Processes in evolution that lead to morphological and behavioral change will be examined, and students will learn how those changes structure systematics, past and present. Finally, the macroevolutionary processes that contribute to our understanding of the fossil record will be examined through field trip experiences. Students will develop skills for quantitative and population genetics as well as observations of theme and pattern as reflected in systematics and taxonomy.

Field activities will include an overnight excursion to examine and collect fossil beds in Eastern Washington, and a day trip to visit research natural history and botanical collections.

Texts will include a conservation genetics text, an evolutionary biology text, and The Mismeasure of Man (S. J. Gould). Additional writings by Joan Roughgarden and the primary scientific literature will be a key part of this program.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

biological sciences, natural resources management, and wildlife management.


Credits per quarter


One year of General Biology or equivalent.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$265 for an overnight field trip and entrance fees.

Upper division science credit:

Upper division science credit is contingent on successful completion of program expectations.

Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 10:30 am
SEM 2 A2105 - Workshop

Located in: Olympia