Environmental and Evolutionary Biology

Module code: BS1008

Module co-ordinator: Dr Chris Cane

In this module we will establish the scientific principles underlying biodiversity from both an ecological and an evolutionary perspective. We will look at the factors influencing the patterns of biodiversity, including its origins, evolution, maintenance and loss. These factors range from the ecology of organisms and communities to the molecular evolution of genes and genomes.

Topics covered

  • Genetics of major evolutionary processes, units of selection, molecular ecology and genome evolution
  • Organismal ecology – an introduction to behavioural ecology
  • Population ecology – factors affecting population size and composition
  • Community ecology – co-evolution of predators and prey, interspecific competition
  • Ecosystem ecology – patterns of biodiversity
  • Role of natural selection and other forces in evolution
  • Molecular basis of evolution
  • Evolution of life-history strategies
  • Scope of population ecology
  • How organisms of different species interact
  • Factors that influence global patterns of biodiversity
  • Factors that influence species richness
  • Methods by which we can conserve biodiversity
  • How an organism's environment shapes the evolution of its behaviour


There are three lab practicals linked to the lecture material.  There is also a debate on the 'Human Genome'.


  • Contribution to debate or essay (7.5%)
  • Three practical reports (each worth 7.5%)
  • Written examination (70%)