In this module you will explore and explain patterns of global biodiversity over space and time, affecting a wide variety of lineages. We will begin as 18th century natural historians, considering the impact of new discoveries, due to the invention of the microscope and a growing fossil record, which led Charles Darwin to propose a tree of life and evolution through natural selection as the mechanism for descent with modification.
We will then consider the impact of the work of Mendel to explain the process of inheritance, followed by the discovery of the structure of DNA and the mechanism of genetic inheritance within the cell. This will allow us to consider biodiversity from the perspective of Neo-Darwinists, following the modern synthesis at the start of the twentieth century, with an appreciation of the effect of selection at different ecological levels, from cells to individuals to populations to communities to ecosystem level.
We will end as 21st century biologists, applying what we have learned about evolution and ecology to investigating and understanding the world around us, using the present to explain the past and the future. We will apply our knowledge of population and ecosystem level effects to explain longer term evolutionary ecology trends, including predicting future changes.