Biology 440


This course explores evolutionary processes and the patterns that they produce at and above the species level. We’ll begin with a reprise of microevolution and the distinction between it and macroevolution (if indeed such demarcation can be sharply drawn and is useful). This is followed by detailed considerations of theoretical underpinnings and empirical examinations of models and genomics of speciation (contrasting different mechanisms), adaptive radiation, mechanisms and rates of extinction, evo/devo, cladogenesis and origins of higher-order taxa and reconstructions of evolutionary history of focal groups of species. Class lectures (2 – 50 min. sessions weekly) may be supplemented by guests presenting case studies based on their latest research. In the laboratory, lectures are complemented by student-led tutorials on recent articles from top-line scientific journals like Science, Nature, and Evolution, and by a group research project designed to provide students with hands-on experience with the most recent advances in phylogenetic inference.

Time Slots for 2018

Lectures: Monday 08:30-09:20 & Tuesday 10:30-11:20 Bioscience Room 1120.

Tutorial/Laboratories: Monday 14:30-17:20, Biosci 3110 & Wednesday 14:30-17:20, Kingston 209.

NOTE. Labs start week of Monday September 10th 2018.


There is no comprehensive textbook on both speciation and macroevolution (and I know of no book that adequately covers both evolution above the species level and speciation itself). This presents a conundrum as I know many students prefer having a text to deepen their understanding of concepts covered in class. Regardless, we require no text (saving you loads of $$$) and use review articles and papers from the primary literature to underpin the lectures and labs in this course. There are many excellent books that you may wish to purchase and that cover some of what we will discuss in Biology 440 some of which I list here:

Course Grading Scheme

Individual tutorial exercise 15% (Based on an assigned peer-reviewed article).
In-class group assignments X 2 10% (Date TBA. Based on cumulative knowledge gained from lectures)
Class Participation (including tutorial discussions) 10% (contributing to discussions, asking questions, attendance)
Term paper proposal outline 10% Due: Mon. Oct. 29th at 4:00 pm
Term paper 30% Due: Thursday Dec. 6th at 4:00 pm
Phylogentics group exercise 25% (5% for verbal proposal, 20% for presentation)

This Course Taught By

Instructor: Steve Lougheed. Room 4428, Bioscience Complex. Tel: x. 36128 email:

TAs: Jie Yuen Ong, email:; Katie Birchard, email: