Douglas College wordmark
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Snapchat logo YouTube logo Wordpress logo

Registration for the Fall 2019 semester begins June 25.  Watch your email for more details.

back to search

Vertebrate Zoology

Course Code: BIOL 3620
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 5.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

The course will examine the comparative morphology of vertebrate groups within an evolutionary and phylogenetic context. Topics will include an introduction to the phylogeny of the vertebrates, and a comparative study of systems for locomotion, nervous and sensory perception, respiration, circulation, digestion, thermoregulation, excretion and reproduction.

Course Content

1. OVERVIEW OF VERTEBRATE CLASSIFICATION

  • Introduction of the major vertebrate phyla and characteristics for each
  • Introduction to vertebrate phylogenetics
  • Diversity and distribution of vertebrates
  • Biological design principles linking form and function

2. NERVOUS & SENSORY SYSTEMS

  • Evolution and organization of nervous systems
  • Basic neural and sensory physiology
  • General and special sensory organs
  • Communication and social behaviour

3. PROTECTION, SUPPORT & LOCOMOTION

  • Integumentary adaptations
  • Skeletal system adaptations and types of movement (e.g. crawling; burrowing; running; swimming; jumping; flight)
  • Introduction to muscle action and basic biomechanics

4. FOOD ACQUISITION & DIGESTION

  • Vertebrate feeding mechanisms, specializations of teeth and jaws
  • Functional components of the digestive system
  • Digestion in herbivores vs. carnivores

5. RESPIRATORY & CIRCULATORY SYSTEMS

  • Comparison of various respiratory organs
  • Diffusion rates and counter-current exchange
  • Evolution of swim bladders
  • Water to land transition; aquatic vs. terrestrial respiratory mechanisms
  • Comparison of vertebrate cardiovascular systems
  • Matching heart structure and blood flow with environmental demands
  • Structure and function of the lymphatic system

6. EXCRETION

  • Comparison of vertebrate kidney structure and function
  • Comparison of modes of excretion in relation to lifestyle & habitat
  • Osmoregulation – regulating water and salt balance

7. TEMPERATURE, SEASONS & CLIMATE

  • Ectotherms and endotherms
  • Structures and mechanisms involved in thermoregulation
  • Homeostasis and acclimatization
  • Adaptations for extreme climates: adaptive heterothermy, thermogenesis and freeze-tolerance

8. REPRODUCTION & GROWTH

  • Reproductive strategies & behaviours
  • Fertilization mechanisms (internal vs. external)
  • Mechanisms and structures involved in sexual reproduction
  • Early development and comparative embryology
  • Oviparity vs viviparity and parenting behaviour

Methods of Instruction

Lecture

Laboratory activities

Discussion groups

Readings from scientific journal articles

Guest lectures

Project (e.g. research paper on a topic of current interest, poster presentations)

Means of Assessment

MEANS OF ASSESSMENT                MARKS
Projects 10-20
Laboratory assignments 10-20
Midterm examination 25-35
Final laboratory examination 10-15
Final examination 25-35
TOTAL 100

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students should be able:

  1. To describe the general principles of vertebrate classification and phylogeny, and characteristics of the major chordate taxa.
  2. To explain the diversity of vertebrate 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 organisms 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 vertebrate anatomy and physiology.
  6. To be able to use the general principles of biology to discuss current issues and ideas.

course prerequisites

BIOL 1110 and  BIOL 1210 with minimum C-, or BIOL 1310 minimum C- or permission of instructor

Corequisites

None

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.

assessments

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