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Nature, Nurture and Organismal Diversity - EEB 405

3 credits

Prerequisites: BIO 171, 172, 173 and one 200+ level biology course (any department) or permission of instructor

Requirements: BS, NS, EEB field course, Lab, PitE practical experience; EEB Biodiversity 

Instructor: André Green

Course Description

Organismal form and function result not only from instructions encoded within the genome ("nature"), but also from environmental context ("nurture"). In this course, we will examine how abiotic (e.g. temperature, nutrition) and biotic (e.g. species interactions) environmental contexts shape organismal development, how these ‘interactions’ are encoded in and interpreted by genomes, and how this encoding influences how organisms evolve on a dynamic planet. This is the emerging field of ecological evolutionary developmental biology or "eco-evo-devo."


This integrated classroom-lab-field course will introduce the foundational principles of eco-evo-devo (e.g. phenotypic plasticity, developmental symbiosis, genetic assimilation and accommodation, etc.) through the lens of genetics. Lectures and readings will examine major concepts and explore contemporary controversies in the field. We will discuss how the eco-evo-devo perspective informs how we think about human health and climate change. In a hybrid lab-field research project, we will use cutting edge molecular genetics techniques to illustrate fundamental concepts in eco-evo-devo while leveraging the remarkable biodiversity at the UMBS. A primary goal for this research experience is to introduce you to research and equip you with sufficient training to confidently enter research labs in a variety of fields (e.g. EEB, MCDB, biomedicine, etc.).

In this course, students will explore the remarkable biodiversity at UMBS in both the lab and the field.