Wiens-lecture1-17March

Wiens-lecture1-17March - Bio 201 My office hours...

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Bio 201 My office hours • Monday (12:50--1:50; in Union cafeteria) • Wednesday 1:30--2:30 (office number 616; 6th floor, Life Sciences) • Will be in cafeteria today! My lectures • Will be posted on Blackboard within 24 hours after I give them • I recommend reading the relevant chapter before class • I recommend taking notes in class (note-taking is an important skill that you should try to develop!)
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What I do • Study evolutionary biology, phylogeny, and ecology of reptiles and amphibians • Make phylogenies, use them to study questions in evolution and ecology • Why more species in the tropics? What explains the evolution of body size? How do similar species co-exist?
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Outline Evolutionary Processes Today • Why study evolution? • Brief history of evolutionary biology • Population genetics–part I Next Monday (exam on Friday) • Population genetics–part II • Limits on evolution
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What is evolution? Evolution = descent with modification (organisms change over time and pass changes on to subsequent generations)
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Reasons to study evolution Understanding natural world Evolution explains why organisms have the traits that they do • All organisms are: a) related to each other b) adapted to their environment (either perfectly or imperfectly) • These two facts can explain most traits an organism has!
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Reasons to study evolution Understanding natural world • In this class, we get to focus on understanding the diversity of life • Going to learn lots of names, lots of evolutionary trees, but also lots of interesting facts about diversity of life and the processes that create it
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Understanding ourselves • Human DNA and anatomy are almost identical to chimpanzees (DNA is ~98% identical); very similar to pufferfish (~70% of genes shared) • Most of your body parts are also present in cows, frogs, crocodiles, birds, turtles, etc. • At cellular level, most traits shared with fungus, plants, insects, sponges, jellyfish, etc. Reasons to study evolution
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Reasons to study evolution Understanding ourselves • Human traits are generally a combination of features from ancestors (3.5 billion years ago to few million) and adaptations to more recent environment Questions addressed in evolutionary biology • Why is there sex? • Why do women have only one (or a few) babies per year? • Why do we live only ~80–100 years? • Why do we get sick?
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Today’s Factoid • Why can’t we (mammals) regenerate lost limbs? • Salamanders have similar basic morphology and physiology to other vertebrates, but can regenerate entire limbs • Mammals cannot regenerate lost limbs (develop scar tissue when wounded) • Recent study in laboratory mice found that when p21 gene is inactivated, mice can regenerate in a manner like salamanders • Possible to de-activate p21 in humans and regrow lost limbs or damaged tissues?
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Reasons to study evolution Human Health • Antibiotic resistance • Why no cure for AIDS?
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Wiens-lecture1-17March - Bio 201 My office hours...

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