Biology Courses

Note that this page has two tabs on it. Clicking on the left-hand tab will yield links to web sites for current-semester biology courses. Clicking on the right-hand tab will yield descriptions of all Biology courses.

You can filter the list of course descriptions below to show different subsets of Biology courses. By default (with all of the drop-down boxes set to "Any"), you will see all courses. Choosing other options in the drop-downs limits the list of courses. For example, if you choose "Evolution and Biodiversity" in the Core Area box, and "Yes" in the Lab box, you will see descriptions of all courses in the Evolution and Biodiversity category that meet the lab requirement.

A course in general ecology designed for undergraduate majors in biology. The course will cover the following topics: how the world works, its structure, history, and evolution; the Earth in space and extra-terrestrial influences; the energy budget and atmospheric circulation (weather); ecosystems and the flow of energy; biomes of the Earth; biogeochemical cycling; adaptations of plants and animals to their environments; population dynamics; interactions between organisms including the concepts of symbiosis and succession; human technology and ecological problems; and ideas for developing new relationships between human technology and ecological problems; and ideas for developing new relationships between humans and the natural systems we need for future survival. Prerequisite: Grades of C or better in Biology 151, 152 & 153.

This fundamental ecology course emphasizes the quantitative skills needed to understand and conduct field research. The lectures introduce major ecological concepts, local vegetation types, and methods and techniques of gathering and analysing data. In laboratories, students collect original data at sites in the Connecticut Valley and write an original scientific paper. Prerequisite: an introductory biology course or consent of instructor.

Introduction to experimental methods in ecology with an emphasis on rigorous experimental design, hypothesis testing, methods of data collection, and introductory data analysis. Laboratory will involve field trips, greenhouse experiments, and computer time.

This course focuses on the ecology, physiology, taxonomy, and behavior of organisms that inhabit the New World tropics. The centerpiece of the course is a nine-day field trip to Belize. The trip takes place over spring break and includes intensive exploration of marine and coastal habitats. Pre-requisite: At least one year of college biology courses, on-line application, and permission of instructor.

This course introduces life in the sea from ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Topics will include primary and secondary production, interrelations of marine organisms and their environment (e.g. rocky intertidal, estuaries, interstitial communities, coral reefs, deep-sea communities), adaptations of marine organisms, human impacts on marine life, biodiversity, conservation, and aquaculture. Students will also learn about recent advances in marine research by reading primary literature on topics including reproduction, embryology, paleontology, metazoan body-plan evolution, evolution of development, and phylogeny.

Animals have evolved a remarkable diversity of behavioral patterns, used in a wide range of ecological and social contexts. Our first goal in this course will be to examine the mechanisms responsible for the expression of behavior: for example, how do birds locate prey; how do crayfish avoid becoming prey; and how to crickets and birds develop species-specific communication signals? To help answer these questions we will make use of neurobiological, hormonal, genetic, and developmental perspectives. Our next goal in the course will be to examine the evolutionary bases of behavior, asking for example why animals move, forage, hide, communicate, and socialize as they do. To address these questions we make use of optimality theory and other behavioral ecological perspectives. Other topics in the course will include sexual selection, human behavior, and the role of behavior in establishing biodiversity. Prerequisite: introductory biology or psychology course; or consent of instructor and at least sophomore level standing.

This course will explore animal communication from several biological perspectives. We will explore how animals use different modalities of communication (sound, smell, electricity, etc.) and how these modes of sending and receiving information are limited by environmental constraints and their functions. We will look at the physiological and anatomical aspects of signal production and perception. The class will discuss the different types of messages encoded in signals and how they evolved. We will explore the evolution of sexually selected forms of communication (antlers, bird song, etc.) and the theories that attempt to explain their function and evolution. The lectures/discussions will draw on examples from a diverse selection of animals (insects, fish, birds, and mammals). Students will also work on projects where they will learn how to analyze and interpret different forms of vocal and visual communication.

This course will provide an on-site introduction to the world's epicenter for aquatic and terrestrial diversity, the Amazon Basin. We will examine the Amazon's fauna, flora and ecosystems and we will have a chance to interact with people in small villages. Via riverboat, we'll travel to Careiro Island on the Amazon river, and to Novo Airao in the Negro River. Most of the time will be sent canoeing on floodplains and forests, the best way to experience the diversity of animals and plants. Students will complete self-designed research projects comparing the biodiversity of different habitats of the black and white water river systems.