Module BSX-2022:
Vertebrate Biology

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Charles Bishop

Overall aims and purpose

To provide an introduction to the origins of the vertebrate classes, to briefly outline the steps in their evolutionary history and to understand the functional aspects of their major morphological characteristics and life history features. Thus, the module will focus on the structure and function of vertebrates, seen from an evolutionary perspective and illustrate the taxonomic diversity within the vertebrate groups. It will start by defining the essential features of the Chordates, from which the Vertebrates evolved. It will briefly cover the basic feeding, respiratory and locomotory adaptations of the fish before moving on to discuss the evolution of land vertebrates via the lobe-fined fishes and early amphibians. It will cover the evolutionary diversity of the amphibians and contrasting water relations of amphibians and reptiles. Finally, it will cover the evolutionary history of birds and mammals, their primary reproductive, locomotory and sensory adaptations.

Course content

This module traces the origins of vertebrates and follows the subsequent major advances in the evolution of aquatic, terrestrial and aerial groups. Themes given particular emphasis include: evolution, diversity, feeding, respiration (aquatic and aerial), and locomotion (aquatic, terrestrial and flight). This module should be of general interest to all animal biologists but with an emphasis on terrestrial groups.

The module will include a number of practical classes (at least 3 of which will be assessed), comprising 2 on animal diversity (based on the museum collection), 1 chicken dissection (looking at locomotor, reproductive and digestive adaptations) and 2 on fish diversity in form and function.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

A threshold student should have a basic knowledge of some of the essential facts and key concepts of the evolutionary history, anatomical structure and diversity of vertebrates presented in the module. Written answers should demonstrate some ability to organise relevant material into a coherent argument but is likely to lack specific examples, detailed explanations and good subject coverage.

C- to C+

A C class student should have a reasonable factual knowledge across many aspects of the module, and be able to provide some detailed examples where appropriate. Written answers should try and synthesise key aspects of the lecture material and enclosed information, and demonstrate an attempt to integrate and evaluate the principles underlying the structural evolution and function of vertebrates.

good

A good student should have a thorough factual knowledge across most aspects of the module, and be able to detail examples where appropriate. Written answers should synthesise lecture material and information from background reading, and demonstrate an ability to critically integrate and evaluate the principles underlying the structural evolution and function of vertebrates. This would include their diversity, and how functions such as feeding, locomotion and reproduction are vital to their survival.

excellent

The student should demonstrate excellent and comprehensive factual knowledge, critical understanding of theory, evidence of extra reading of primary literature and the ability to integrate this extra knowledge in a relevant manner, adequate for HE level 2.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different facts and mechanisms of vertebrate biology (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

  2. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of processes of evolution, phylogeny, physiology and biomechanics of vertebrates. (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

  3. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the interaction of vertebrates with their environment. (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

  4. Develop vertebrate dissection skills, an appreciation of internal organ structure and vascularisation, and practice in scientific drawing and annotation. (Biosciences benchmark: 3.5 intellectual skills & 3.9 Self-management and professional development skills)

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM End of module short questions 20
REPORT Fish Diversity assessment 20
REPORT Chicken Dissection 20
EXAM End of module MCQ 20
CLASS TEST Mammal locomotion & Diversity Test 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

Lectures. The 18 lectures will be arranged into blocks of 3 to 5, covering each of the five vertebrate classes, and scheduled as 2 or 3 per week. Students will be occasionally be prompted to answer questions and invited to make comments on relevant aspects of the biology.

18
Seminar

Formative feedback. At the end of each block of lectures, there will be a review of the information provided on the biology of the vertebrate classes and an indication of the kind questions that might arise in the exam, including both MCQ and short answers.

1
Private study

Practicals. Five practicals introduce the students to morphology, physiology, and phylogenetics of vertebrates. In most practicals students will work on their own. Their will be 2 practical covering animal diversity (herpetology and mammals, based on the museum collection) for which their will be an on-line test at the end of the series. Their will be a practical conducting a chicken dissection (looking at locomotor, reproductive and digestive adaptations) and a practical covering fish diversity of form and function. These last two practicals will involve drawing, on-line species-specific literature research and appropriate annotation of the diagrams.

166
Practical classes and workshops

Practicals. FIve practicals introduce the students to morphology, physiology, and phylogenetics of vertebrates. In most practicals students will work on their own or in pairs. Their will be practicals covering animal diversity (based on the museum collection) for which their will be an on-line test at the end of the series. Their will be a practica performing a chicken dissection (looking at locomotor, reproductive and digestive adaptations) and a practical covering fish diversity of form and function. These last two practicals will involve drawing, on-line species-specific literature research and appropriate annotation of the diagrams.

15

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations

Subject specific skills

  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.

Resources

Resource implications for students

Laboratory coat.

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/bsx-2022.html

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: