Evolutionary Biology (Life Sciences 3500) — Fall 2014

Class meetings: Classroom Building 219, 1:20–2:35 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday
Syllabus: pdf version of syllabus
Professor: Alex Buerkle (email)
Teaching Assistant: Liz Mandeville (email)


  • We used computer simulations for: (i) deterministic models of selection, (ii) stochastic models of genetic drift and (iii) models that combined selection with the random effects of genetic drift. This software uses Flash, so will not run on Apple mobile devices; here is alternative software that will run there.
  • On 25 September we first discussed results from the paper Genes mirror geography within Europe (Novembre et al. 2008). The figure we discussed is below (click for full resolution) and the full paper is here.

    We also browsed around the human genome a bit on this day to look at similarities and differences (variation) in nucleotides among species and to get an impression of what genetic material (a part of a chromosome) looks like.

Examples from the literature

Use one or both of the following databases to search for scientific articles that provide examples to accompany our studies.



Evolutionary Analysis (5th edition) by Jon C. Herron and Scott Freeman (ISBN-10: 0321616677)
Note: if you are buying or renting this book somewhere other than the bookstore, be sure to get the 5th edition.

From the primary literature

Some of these links are to copyrighted material to which the university has a subscription. It is easiest to access these from a computer within the university network, where the direct links will work. Alternatively, if you are off-campus, you can navigate to the journal article through the university library (search). All links are to pdf files that are suitable for printing with Adobe Reader.

  1. (for Tuesday, 23 Sept. 2014) Mead, L. S. and A. Mates. 2009. Why science standards are important to strong science curriculum and how states measure up. Evolution: Education and Outreach 2: 359–371.
  2. (for Tuesday, 23 Sept. 2014) Lenner et al. 2012. The State of State Science Standards. Thomas Fordham Institute. (read assessment of WY standards on p. 198–200). Link to full report, including full pdf.
  3. (for Tuesday, 23 Sept. 2014) Wyoming State Board of Education. 2008. Wyoming science content and performance standards.
  4. (for Tuesday, 23 Sept. 2014) High School–Natural Selection and Evolution section from Next-generation Science Standards. The Department of Education in Wyoming is currently prohibited from considering these standards, as a result of footnote to the state budget, but some Wyoming school districts are using them (see story in Casper Star-Tribune).
  5. Burke, M., J. P. Dunham, P. Shahrestani, K. R. Thornton, M. R. Rose & A. D. Long. 2010. Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila. Nature 467: 587–590.
  6. Jiggins, C.D., Naisbit, R.E., Coe, R.L. and J. Mallet. 2001. Reproductive isolation caused by colour pattern mimicry. Nature 411: 302–305. (Questions associated with reading)
  7. Stolz, U. et al. 2003. Darwinian natural selection for orange bioluminescent color in a Jamaican click beetle. PNAS 100: 14955–14959. (Questions to accompany reading)