Biology 301M - Ecology, Evolution,
and Society - Fall 2018
Designed for non-science majors. Introduction to
environmental adaptations, diversity of organisms, population growth and
limitations, evolution, origin of life, species interactions, community
organization and ecosystem function, and human impact on the environment.
Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May not
be counted toward a degree in biology.
BIO 301M is part of UT's Core Curriculum, and accordingly,
this course meets standards and objectives of the Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board for Natural Science and Technology. These include the
following four areas: Spaceship
· Critical Thinking
Skills: creative thinking, innovation,
inquiry, and analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information.
Skills: effective development, interpretation and
expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication.
· Empirical and
Quantitative Skills: manipulation and analysis of
numerical data or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions.
· Teamwork: ability to consider different
points of view and to
work effectively with others to support a shared purpose or goal.
Each of us quite naturally perceives ourself to be at the
center of things, but no one would deny that other events ultimately have
their influence, too. Likewise, many people unconsciously place humanity at
the exact center of the universe. In this view, the utility of anything is measured
by how it can be used by humans. For many, everything has its dollar value.
Such anthropocentrism is understandable, but narrow and misguided.
It is a worthwhile exercise to imagine that something else, such as an ant, a
lizard, an oak tree, or an HIV virus, is really the focus of the cosmos. From
such a perspective, the almighty dollar quickly loses its primacy. Survival (Survival Kit) and reproduction assume a lot more
significance. What good are lizards? Indeed, what good are you?!
should I take this course?
Eric R. Pianka email@example.com, Lectures
125 (471-7472), Mondays and Fridays 1-2 PM (or by appointment)
Kyle Wilhite firstname.lastname@example.org,
Patterson 103 -- make appointment by email.
Thursday, 11AM-1230 PM (Gearing 105)
9-10 AM GDC 6.202
10-11 AM CLA 1.108
11-12 PM CMA 5.190
12-1 PM GAR 1.126
This course assumes knowledge of High School algebra, geometry, and genetics.
You will be expected to be able to understand 3-dimensional graphs and be
able to manipulate simple equations.
We will attempt to teach you the basic ecology and evolution that everyone
should know to become better informed citizens of this, our one and only
Earth -- we will also do our utmost to encourage you to think.
Here are links to some of the things we'll cover in discussion sections: You
are expected to read all 24 of these. The first eight will be covered on the
first exam, the second eight on the second exam and the remaining eight will
be covered on the third exam. All 24 will be included on the final exam.
Please read "Scientific Methods" as soon as you can, as we will
cover this in early discussions and lectures.
Selection On Human Nature
Hunter-Gatherer Heritage Evolution
of Uncaring Humanoids
Growth Evolution's Problem
printable version of Evolution's Problem Gamblers)
Warming The Vanishing
Book of Life on Earth
Plastics The Weakest
Link Technology Economics Intelligent Design?
Energy Money Land Food Water Sewage
Unburnable Oil Space Travel
movie (50 seconds)
Temperatures 1884-2012" (45 seconds)
Ernest Kline's Dance, Monkeys,
Dance (3.5 minutes) Link: "The Monkey Trap"
Effects (6.5 minutes)
Download Syllabus: This constitutes a
contract between each student, me, and UT
Pianka, Evolutionary Ecology, 6th or 7th ed.
Sixth Edition out of
print but available
Seventh Edition -
eBook available from Google
Read On Line at Canvas
(other browsers may
not work):Course Documents
1 - Background
2 - Classical Biogeography
3 - Meteorology
4 - Climate and Vegetation
5 - Resource Acquisition and Allocation
6 - Rules of Inheritance
7 - Evolution and Natural Selection
8 - Vital Statistics of Populations
9 - Population Growth and Regulation
10 - Sociality
11 - Interactions Between Populations
12 - Competition
13 - The Ecological Niche
14 - Experimental Ecology
15 - Predation and Parasitism
16 - Phylogenetics in Ecology
17 - Community and Ecosystem Ecology
18 - Biodiversity and Community Stability
Ecopoetry 1: Kurt Vonnegut's "Requiem" (68 seconds)
Ecopoetry 2: James Dickey's
"For the Last Wolverine" (6 minutes)
Note: UT provides students with 500megs per week FREE, if you need
more bandwidth, you can buy 10 gigabytes per week for only $3 per semester (More information provided
Excerpts from student Evaluations of past
Grading and Grades:
Saturday, December 15, 7-10 pm
Download Sample First Exam
Download Sample Second Exam
Download Sample Third Exam
Best 2 of the above 3 hour exams will count 20% each (40% total), your
performance on problems and attendance and assignments in discussion sections
will count for an additional 20%. The comprehensive final exam makes up the
other 40% of your letter grade.
These four exams and your performance in discussion sections are your only
opportunities to earn your letter grade. UT's "new" plus/minus
grading system will be employed.
No "extra" points are available. Your lowest hour exam will be
dropped, so you can miss ONE exam (for which you'll be scored a zero).
You will be expected to "know" everything the instructors say in
lecture and discussion sections, including pauses and nuances, as well as
everything assigned in reading assignments. Exams will be in multiple choice
format. Each hour exam will cover about one-third of the class. Everyone must
take at least two of the three hour exams plus the comprehensive 3 hour final
exam. No "Make Up" exams will be given.
Final Grades are final, carved in stone, and non-negotiable (please
don't even bother to question them!). They are a measure of your own
phenotype, and not our reponsibility. We expect you to accept your own
performance as an integral part of yourself.
to get straight A's Class
hognosed snake Heterodon in a threat display.
Outline of Subjects to be covered in the Course
Biology 301M - Ecology, Evolution, and Society
Professor Eric R. Pianka
Definitions and Groundwork, anthropocentrism, the importance of wild organisms
in pristine natural environments, the urgency of basic ecological research,
Scaling and the hierarchical structure of biology, levels of approach in
biology, domain of ecology, the scientific method, models, multiple
causality, environment, nature versus nurture, limiting factors, tolerance
limits, the principle of allocation, genetics, natural selection,
self-replicating molecular assemblages, units of selection, levels of
selection, speciation, phylogeny, classification and systematics.
The same hognosed snake Heterodon
feigning death a few minutes later.
Macroevolution, natural selection and adaptation, the species concept. Origin
of life, prokaryotes and eukaryotes, introduction
to the diversity of organisms. Domains, traits (and example organisms) of
kingdoms [archaebacteria, eubacteria, protists, fungi, plants, animals]
Adaptations, structures, symbiotic relationships, including variations in
How organisms are classified and why, phylogenetic systematics. One major
taxon will be examined in depth (Lizards),
we will investigate classification, phylogeny, and biogeography. Evolution
will be related to the history of earth
History and Biogeography
Self-replicating molecular assemblages, geological past, classical
biogeography, plate tectonics and continental drift
Major determinants of climate, local perturbations, variations in time and
space, global weather modification
Climate and Vegetation
Plant life forms and biomes, microclimate, primary production and
evapotranspiration, soil formation and primary succession, ecotones,
classification of natural communities, aquatic ecosystems
Physiological optima and tolerance curves, energetics of metabolism and
movement, energy budgets and the principle of allocation, adaptation and
deterioration of environment, heat budgets and thermal ecology, water economy
in desert organisms, other limiting materials, sensory capacties and
environmental cues, adaptive suites and design constraints.
Principles of Population Ecology
Life tables and schedules of reproduction, net reproductive rate and
reproductive value, stable age distribution, intrinsic rate of increase,
population growth and regulation, Pearl-Verhulst logistic equation, density
dependence and independence, r and K selection, population
"cycles," cause and effect, metapopulations, evolution of
reproductive tactics, evolution of old age and death rates, use of space,
evolution of sex, sex ratio, mating systems, sexual selection, fitness and
the individual's status in the population, kin selection, reciprocal
altruism, parent-offspring conflict and group selection, game theory and
evolutionary stable strategies.
Interactions Between Populations
Complex examples of population interactions, indirect interactions,
competition theory, competitive exclusion, balance between intraspecific and
interspecific competition, evolutionary consequences of competition,
laboratory experiments and evidence from nature, character displacement and
limiting similarity, future prospects, Predation, predator-prey oscillations,
"prudent" predation and optimal yield, theory of predation,
functional and numerical responses, selected experiments and observations,
evolutionary consequences of predation: predator escape tactics, aspect
diversity and escape tactic diversity, coevolution, plant apparency theory,
evolution of pollination mechanisms, symbiotic relationships.
The Role of Phylogenetics in Ecology
Phylogenetic systematics, independent contrasts, the comparative method,
evolutionary ecomorphology, ecological equivalents and convergent evolution.
Classification of communities, interface between climate and vegetation,
plant life forms and biomes, leaf tactics, succession, transition matrices,
aquatic systems, community organization, trophic levels and food webs, the
community matrix, guild structure, primary productivity and
evapotranspiration, pyramids of numbers, biomass, and energy, energy flow and
ecological energetics, saturation with individuals and with species, species
diversity, diversity of lowland rainforest trees, community stability,
evolutionary convergence and ecological equivalents, ecotones, vegetational
continuua, soil formation and primary succession, evolution of communities.
Island Biogeography and Conservation Biology
Classical biogeography, biogeographic "rules," continental drift,
island biogeography, species-area relationships, equilibrium theory,
compression hypothesis, islands as ecological experiments: Krakatau, Darwin's
finches, and other examples, metapopulations, conservation biology, human
impacts on natural ecosystems, hot spots of biodiversity, applied
biogeography and the design of nature preserves.
To go to Pianka Lab Homepage
Last updated 5 January 2016 by Eric R. Pianka