First cycle
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Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCP3053524, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2017/18

Information on the course unit
Degree course First cycle degree in
SC1165, Degree course structure A.Y. 2008/09, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 10.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Biology
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction English
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit


ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines BIO/01 General Botanics 1.0
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines BIO/05 Zoology 4.0
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines BIO/18 Genetics 5.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 3rd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Laboratory 1.0 16 9.0 No turn
Lecture 9.0 72 153.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/03/2020
End of activities 12/06/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2008 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
7 BIOLOGIA EVOLUZIONISTICA 2019-2020 01/10/2019 27/11/2020 PILASTRO ANDREA AUGUSTO (Presidente)
6 BIOLOGIA EVOLUZIONISTICA 2018-2019 01/10/2018 30/11/2019 PILASTRO ANDREA AUGUSTO (Presidente)

Prerequisites: Formal Genetics and basic Molecular Biology are fundamental prerequisits. Basic knowledge in Mathematics and Informatics, Zoology, Botany and Developmental biology would also be useful.
Target skills and knowledge: Knowledge of the formal aspects of evolutionary theory. Knowledge of the major evolutionary mechanisms: natural selection, sexual selection, speciation, coevolution, genetic drift.
Examination methods: Evolutionary Biology
The final exam will be written, with multiple choice questions, but oral examination available upon request.

Population Genetics
The final exam will be written, with multiple choice questions, short answers and problems involving the analysis and interpretation of mock experimental data.
Assessment criteria: Final written test will evaluate the level of knowledge, comprehension, application, and critical analysis of the course topics
Course unit contents: the course is given in English.

This is an integrated course, which consists of two parts (Evolutionary Biology and Population Genetics) held by different teachers.

Evolutionary Biology
This part of the course is an introduction to the evolutionary biology. The teacher will present the main selective and ecological processes which are responsible for adaptive (and non-adaptive) evolutionary changes. Students will be guided to integrate their knowledge of the genetic mechanisms responsible for the expression of phenotypic traits (including their plasticity) into an evolutionary framework.
1. An introduction to evolution
2. The history of life
How does evolution lead to the tree of life?
Understanding phylogenies
Homologies and analogies
Important events in the history of life
3. Mechanisms of adaptive evolution
Descent with modification
Mechanisms of change
Genetic variation
Sex and genetic shuffling
Natural selection
Sexual selection
Artificial selection
Misconceptions about natural selection
4. Microevolution
Detecting contemporary microevolutionary change
Mechanisms of microevolution (directional, stabilizing and disruptive selection)
5. Speciation
Defining a species
Defining speciation
Causes of speciation
Reproductive isolation
Evidence for speciation
6. Macroevolution
Patterns in macroevolution
7. The big questions in evolutionary biology
The pace of evolution
The maintenance of genetic variation

Population Genetics
The general theme of this part of the course is the origin, maintenance and meaning of genetic variability. The study of population genetics provides the necessary tools for the comprehension of the genetic mechanisms which are the driving force of biological evolution.
1. Genetic variability in populations;
2. How is genetic variability organized?
3. The Hardy-Weinberg principle;
4. Recombination, linkage and linkage disequilibrium;
5. The structure of natural populations;
6. The origins of genetic variability;
7. Random genetic drift;
8. An introduction to coalescence theory;
9. Inbreeding and non-random breeding;
10. Population subdivision and genetic flow;
11. Darwinian selection;
12. The molecular basis of population genetics;
13. The Neutral Theory and molecular evolution.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Lectures and group discussion.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Class notes. Teachers will provide material on the lectures.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • John H. Relethford, Genetica delle Popolazioni umane. --: Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, 2013. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Matthew B. Hamilton, Population Genetics. --: Wiley-Blackwell Ed., 2009. Cerca nel catalogo
  • M. Ferraguti & C. Castellacci (a cura di), Evoluzione. Modelli e processi. --: Pearson Education, 2011. ISBN 9788871926247 Cerca nel catalogo
  • Jonathan B. Losos, Princeton Guide to Evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Gilbert SF, Epel D, Eco-devo: Ambiente e Biologia dello sviluppo. Padova: Piccin, 2018. Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Problem based learning
  • Questioning
  • Problem solving
  • Active quizzes for Concept Verification Tests and class discussions
  • Loading of files and pages (web pages, Moodle, ...)

Innovative teaching methods: Software or applications used
  • Moodle (files, quizzes, workshops, ...)

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