Course: Principles of Biodiversity

HC 441H

Professor: Samantha Hopkins

In light of current, human-induced extinction and habitat modification, biodiversity has become a huge political issue.  Science can offer us a perspective on the ecological and evolutionary origins of that diversity, as well as an idea about how our understanding of the biological processes underlying that diversity can inform our predictions of the consequences of climate change and habitat alteration.  In this course, we will explore the structure of biodiversity from evolutionary and ecological perspectives, surveying disciplines from paleontology to evolutionary genetics, from community ecology to developmental biology.  Our efforts will focus on understanding how biodiversity is generated and maintained on a variety of scales, and how that understanding can help us make decisions about managing extant diversity in the face of human activity.

This course will require four 2 ½ hour class sessions per week for the four week term, which will range from discussion to short lectures to mini-labs. Students will read and react to primary scientific literature, review papers, and popular science articles.  Students will also write several short papers analyzing scientific ideas and synthesizing research.