More detailed learning objectives for evolutionary

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Unformatted text preview: icitly on issues of bodily adaptation and maladaptation that are crucial for medicine. More detailed learning objectives for evolutionary biology would make them more similar to those for other basic sciences. For instance, among the six learning objectives for E3 (physics), students are expected to “demonstrate knowledge of the principles of thermodynamics and uid motion,” and “demonstrate knowledge of principles of quantum mechanics, such as atomic and molecular energy levels, spin, and ionizing radiation.” With these in mind, we offer several comparably speci c learning objectives for evolutionary biology. We recognize that our opinions are no substitute for a representative body of experts convened to address these issues; nonetheless, they may be useful. Learning Objectives for Premedical Competencies in Evolutionary Biology 1. Demonstrate an understanding of how natural selection shapes traits in organisms. Grasping how selection works turns out to be quite dif cult, in part because it requires replacing intuitive thinking about species-typical normal types with population thinking that views a species as a collection of genetically diverse individuals. It also requires recognizing how evolutionary explanations are different from proximate explanations; instead of describing structures and mechanisms, they describe how a process changes the distribution of characteristics of a population over the generations.  Describe how the beaks of the many species of nches of the Galapagos have come to be well-matched to the usual foods of each species and the evidence that supports your thesis. Nesse et al.  Describe the differences between human and chimpanzee teeth and guts and the evolutionary forces that are likely responsible.  Describe distinctive aspects of human facial musculature, and the evolutionary forces likely to have shaped them.  Show how selection can account for a species staying mostly the same across thousands of generations. 2. Describe the differences between proximate and evolutionary explanations, and the two subtypes under each.  Provide proximate and evolutionary explanations for the metabolic pathways that synthesize bilirubin.  Provide proximate and evolutionary explanations for the retention of uid in congestive heart failure.  Provide proximate and evolutionary explanations for the cessation of sexual cycling in young human females who regularly exercise intensely. 3. Describe the relative roles of mutation, selection, drift, and migration in accounting for genotypes and phenotypes.  Explain the origins of lactase persistence into adulthood in certain populations and the factors that explain its current distribution.  Discuss the prevalence of blue eyes in different populations, and how you would investigate possible evolutionary explanations. 4. Describe the mathematical formulations that describe the rate of change of an allele’s frequency under different strengths of selection, and the implications for hypotheses about the role of selection in accounting for differences among human populations.  Intestinal lactase persistence has given selective advantages as large as 8% in dairying cultures. Compare this strength of selection to that for other traits.  Apply these methods to myopia to conclude whether the recent use of eyeglasses has likely increased rates of nearsightedness. 5. Explain how the comparative method and other strategies can be used to test evolutionary explanations.  High uric acid levels have been hypothesized to give an advantage by slowing rates of aging arising from oxidative damage. How could you use comparative data to assess this hypothesis?  A colleague argues that humans evolved to eat only vegetables. Explain how you would use comparative data on teeth and guts of other primates to assess this hypothesis. 6. Be able to describe the role of tradeoffs in traits shaped by natural selection.  Explain why natural selection has not made the head of the radius thicker to protect against fracture.  What tradeoffs are likely to have shaped mechanisms that regulate fat storage in humans? 7. Understand the core principles of behavioral ecology.  What are the main areas to which a pathogen, such as tapeworm, allocates energy, and the tradeoffs among them?  Explain the basic principles of foraging theory in patches and how these might apply to the distribution of a disease vector. 8. Describe phenomena explained by kin selection and inclusive tness more generally.  Kin selection is said to explain “altruism.” What are some examples? PNAS | January 26, 2010 | vol. 107 | suppl. 1 | 1803  A colleague suggests that aging might be valuable for the species to speed evolution. How would you assess this idea?  Explain how an individual's actions can in uence his or her tness even after reproduction has ended. 9. Understand sexual selection, and how it can shape sex differences.  Provide proximate and evolutionary explanations for sex differences in life span...
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