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Invertebrate Zoology

Course Code: BIOL 3610
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 5.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

The course will examine the comparative biology of invertebrates in an evolutionary and phylogenetic context, with an emphasis on functional morphology. Topics will include an introduction to invertebrate systematics, a comparative study of systems for locomotion, nervous and sensory perception, feeding, digestion, excretion, growth, circulation, respiration and reproduction. Given the incredible diversity of invertebrates, the course will focus on a selection of invertebrate phyla.

Course Content


  • Introduction to phylogenetics
  • Introduction to the major invertebrate phyla and characteristics of each
  • Introduction to the functional morphology approach
  • Diversity and distribution of invertebrates


  • Evolution of sensory systems
  • Basic sensory and nervous physiology
  • Use of nervous/sensory structures and sensory modalities
  • Communication and social behaviour in relation to sensory perception


  • Introduction of main locomotory and support structures (e.g. skeleton, muscles, appendages)
  • Biomechanics and behavioural characteristics of movement
  • Examination of specific types of locomotion (e.g. crawling, walking, flight, burrowing, swimming, jumping) and the adaptations exhibited by different taxa to achieve movement
  • Dispersal biology


  • Modes of resource selection and use
  • Examination of feeding modalities and behaviours (e.g. predation, parasitism, herbivory, filter feeding) and the corresponding evolutionary adaptations
  • Considerations related to the variation in nutrient acquisition
  • Anatomy and physiology of the different feeding apparatuses
  • Comparative physiology of digestion & metabolism
  • Examination of different excretory pathways, structures and end products
  • Comparison of modes of excretion in relation to lifestyle and habitat
  • Osmoregulation and water balance


  • Comparison of structure and function of circulatory systems in relation to lifestyle and habitat
  • Comparison of the structure and function of different mechanisms of respiratory exchange in relation to lifestyle and habitat
  • Examination of the relative efficiencies of different circulatory and respiratory systems
  • Considerations related to aquatic vs. terrestrial vs. airborne lifestyles
  • Relevant modes of gas and fluid transport (diffusion, diffusion rates, exchange processes)
  • Thermoregulatory mechanisms and relevant adaptations to temperature changes, climate and seasons
  • Homeostatic mechanisms


  • Comparison of reproductive structures and systems
  • Modes of reproduction and reproductive strategies
  • Comparison of mating tactics and behaviours in relation to lifestyle and habitat
  • Fertilization mechanisms and embryological development
  • Processes of maturation and mechanisms of growth
  • Nesting and parenting behaviours

Methods of Instruction


Laboratory activities

Discussion groups

Readings from scientific journal articles

Guest lectures

Projects (e.g. poster presentation, research paper presentation on a topic of current interest)

Means of Assessment

Projects 10-20
Laboratory assignments 10-20
Midterm examination 25-35
Final laboratory examination 10-15
Final examination 25-35

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students should be able:

  1. To describe the general principles of invertebrate classification and phylogeny, and characteristics of the major invertebrate phyla.
  2. To explain the diversity of invertebrate forms and compare and contrast the unity which exists within this diversity.
  3. To explore anatomical and physiological principles by studying form and function relationships in an evolutionary context.
  4. To describe how invertebrates interact with their environments and how environmental conditions modulate these interactions through adaptive mechanisms.
  5. To indicate how the scientific method is used to advance our knowledge of invertebrate anatomy and physiology.
  6. To be able to use the general principles of biology to discuss current issues and ideas in invertebrate biology.

course prerequisites

BIOL 1110 and 1210 both with C- or better, or BIOL 1310 with C- or better, or permission of the instructor



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.