BIOL371-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Evolutionary Ecology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


The focus of this course is on how the interplay between ecological and evolutionary forces generate biological diversity at many levels, and how this knowledge is used to solve problems in human health, agriculture and conservation.

Evolutionary ecology is the branch of ecology that considers how organisms have evolved to become adapted to their physical environment and how they interact with members of their own, and other species. It considers the evolutionary effects of competitors, mutualists, predators, prey and pathogens. Unifying ideas in this course are evolution within ecological timeframes and evolutionary mechanisms leading to the evolution of new species.

Learning Outcomes

As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
 have a critical appreciation of current questions and approaches in evolutionary ecology (assessment task: final exam).
 understand how evolutionary processes underpin ecological interactions (assessment task: final exam).
 appreciate the roles of observational, experimental and comparative evidence in answering questions of evolutionary ecology (assessment task: final exam and oral presentation).
 synthesise and critically assess primary scientific literature in order to be able to summarise scientific papers in the form of a written abstract and oral presentation (Assessment task: written abstract and oral presentation).
 Synthesise primary scientific literature able to generate a clear and concise argument in support of a perspective (assessment task: final exam).

Transferable Skills Register
As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
 Synthesising and interpreting information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In lectures and tutorials we will discuss recent research papers in a group environment and this will develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs - you will then use in your talk and abstract writing.
 Ability to find relevant information in the popular and scientific literature As part of the essay assignment you will learn how to identify and access current and relevant information.
 Presenting a scientific talk. The scientific talk has become one of the most important communication forums for the scientific community; more people are likely to listen to you talk than read your paper. In many ways your research reputation will be enhanced (or diminished) by your scientific talk. We have developed tutorials to help you create a good talk and provide opportunities for you to present your talk in a conference situation.
 Work in a team. You will work in teams to prepare and present your conference papers.


Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 12:00 - 13:00 James Logie 104
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 12:00 - 13:00 James Logie 104
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 14:00 - 17:00 Ernest Rutherford 225
1 Mar - 21 Mar
10 May - 23 May
02 Tuesday 14:00 - 17:00 F1 Lectorial
1 Mar - 21 Mar
10 May - 23 May

Timetable Note

Feedback from Course Survey 2019

Student ratings 2019
1. This was a well organized course 4.4
2. Course helped to stimulate my interest 4.4
3. Workload 4.5
4 The assessments in this course measured my learning effectively 4.4
5. Overall, this was a good quality course 4.4

The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course. The responses were collated by the course coordinator and common responses scored. Action taken in response to feedback is indicated in bold.
Which aspects of this course were most positive? :
The enthusiasm of the lecturers.
Loved the presentations!
The feedback was really helpful.
How could this course be enhanced to assist your learning? :
Increase the % mark of the conference talks.
We have done this; this year the conference talks together are worth 20% of your total mark.
Minimal guidance on essay, and having it so early in the term, with some content based on topics still to be taught…
The essay is now due in after the mid-term break. The essay is specifically designed to introduce a new topic into the course, so we won’t have covered it in lectures.

Course Coordinator

For further information see School of Biological Sciences Head of Department


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Essay 25%
Final Exam 55%
Conference presentation 1 10%
Conference presentation 2 10%

Textbooks / Resources

There is no single textbook required for this course because currently there are few text books on evolutionary ecology, and none of them are particularly good. During the course each lecturer will identify key books and scientific papers relevant to each lecture. We will ensure the most current literature is available to you on LEARN. To do well in final exam you must show evidence that you have read and understood this material.
Two useful evolutionary textbooks are: 1) Evolutionary Analysis by Scott Freeman and Jon Herron 3rd or 4th ed. Available in the bookshop and in library QH 366.2 .F855. On reserve.
2) An Introduction to Evolution 2005 Stearns & Hoekstra QH 366.2 .S799 On reserve.

Course links

Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $910.00

International fee $4,438.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences.

All BIOL371 Occurrences

  • BIOL371-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021