This module tackles the subject of biological diversity by combining systematic and functional analysis of the major groups of organisms responsible for sustaining life on earth. The origins of life, evolution of the major domains and an examination of microbial diversity lead into studies on plant communities, their underlying biology and exploitation by man. This module also enables students to gain an understanding of the structure and function ofthe basic body plan of three groups of animals. These all hold key positions in the evolutionary development of animal life. The three groups are the echinoderms,
which have embryological affinities with the vertebrates, the insects, which are numerically and economically the most varied and important group of invertebrates, and finally the mammals, which are considered to be the most advanced, and the most intelligent of the vertebrate groups.
By the end of this module, students should acquire knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles of:
A. Hypotheses for life's origins and the early and late evolution that defines biodiversity.
B. The environmental importance of microorganisms and plants, and how they impinge upon man's activities.
C. Systematics, providing the student with a clear view of biological function in relation to the evolution of species.
D. The structure and function of the basic body plan of the Echinoderms, the diversity within the group and their relationship to the vertebrates
E. The structure and function of the basic body plan of the Insects, the diversity within the group and their importance both ecologically and economically.
F. The structure and function of the basic body plan of the Mammals and the way in which slight changes in this plan have led to the diversity within this group.
G. They will also acquire the ability to apply, evaluate and interpret this knowledge to solve problems relating to biodiversity.
Course content will be delivered primarily via standard lectures, that will be accompanied by suitable lecture handouts (also available on the Web).
Students will also be guided to sections of specific textbooks and if reading of specific reviews or sources literature is
required then copies of these will be made available in the library for use by the students. At intervals during the module, revision lectures/exercises (up to 3 per module) will allow the students to self assess their understanding of the course.