Lectures per week: 2+1+0
Lecturer: Mihály Földvári, PhD (lecturer)
The aims of the course: (i) to enable students to develop a synthetic view of ecology and evolution and (ii) to provide an appropriate theoretical foundation for students of the course Conservation Biology.
The syllabus of the course: One objective of the course is to enable students to develop a synthetic view of ecology and evolution by providing an integrated approach to the subject matter of previous courses in Ecology and Evolution, which is essential in the design, implementation and evaluation of research projects in ecology at the international level. A second objective is to provide an appropriate theoretical foundation for students of the course Conservation Biology in the spring semester, which background is essential for students interested in nature conservation and those who prepare for a professional career in conservation.
Cockburn A. 1991. An Introduction to Evolutionary Ecology. Wiley-Blackwell, London.
Futuyma D. 1998. Evolutionary Biology. Third edition, Sinauer Associates, Sunderland.
Szentesi Á. & Török J. 1997. Állatökológia. University notes, Kovásznai Kiadó, Budapest.
Basic texts are accompanied by the most interesting articles from the recent literature, which are discussed in the lecture notes and are available from the instructors.
The practical part involves the learning of major methods used in addressing questions in evolutionary ecology, such as reconstruction of phylogenetic trees based on fenetics and cladistics, using molecular and morphological data in tree reconstructions, applying the evolutionary comparative method using independent contrasts and the sister-group method. Every student will reconstruct the phylogenetic tree of a hypothetic animal group. The grade for practice is the same as that given for the final exam at the end of the semester.
Student activity and questions
An active participation in the form of questions and raising problems is highly recommended. The course ends with a written final examination consisting of multiple choice questions, explanation of concepts, short questions and essay questions.
I. Ecology and evolution: basic concepts (repetition from previous courses): natural selection, fitness, adaptation
II. Evolutionary change and its mechanisms, the modern synthesis in evolution: genetic variability, Darwin’s classic theory on evolution and neo-darwinism, micro and macro-evolution, phylogeography.
III. Within-species mechanisms: phenotypic plasticity, risk-spreading and bet-hedging, life history strategies
IV. Between-species mechanisms: number and distribution of species in communities, the species-area relationship, island biogeography, species diversity and community functioning, evolution of interspecific relationships, coevolution
V. Methods of study in evolutionary ecology: models, experiments, allometry, phylogenetic tree reconstruction (fenetics, cladistics), evolutionary comparative method