Evolutionary biology – Zoology

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1

Typically offered in

Autumn semester

Course description
  1. Population models. Population growth. Selection in sexual and asexual populations. Replication fidelity. Genetic drift in finite populations.

  2. Variability in natural populations. Spread of a favourable gene. Facts of variability. Mutation. Maintenance of variation.

  3. Multilocus evolution. Linkage disequlibrium. Heterostyly in plants. Mimicry in butterflies. Linkage disequlibrium in natural populations. Normalizing selection and linkage

  4. Quantitative genetics. Genetic and environmental effects (nature, nurture). The additive genetic model. A more realistic model. Experiments in artificial selection. Quantitative variation and fitness. Maintenance of genetic variation of a quantitative trait.

  5. Evolutionary game theory. The hawk-dove game: a model of animal conflict. Asymmetric games. More than two strategies. Continuously changing strategies. Evolutionarily stable strategies in sexual populations.

  6. Finite and structured populations. Inbreeding. Genetic drift. Rate of neutral molecular evolution. Mitochondrial DNA. Migration and differentiation between populations. Spread of a new, favourable mutant.

  7. Evolution in structured populations. Selection in trait groups. Evolution of cooperation: synergistic selection and kinship. The group as a unit of evolution. The theory of the shifting balance.

  8. Evolution of prokaryotes. Evolution of gene function. Phages, plasmids and transposons. Evolution of phages and their hosts. Evolution of transposable elements. Population genetics of E. coli. Viral evolution.

  9. Evolution of the eukaryotic genome. The nature of the genome. The haemoglobin gene family. Duplication and the increase in gene content. Ribosomal genes. Unequal crossing-over and gene conversion. Repetitive DNA. Evolution of chromosome form.

  10. Evolution of genetic systems I. Sexual recombination. The natural history of sex. Advantages and costs of parthenogenesis. Benefits of sex. Evolution of recombination.

  11. Evolution of genetic systems II. Some consequences of sex. The sex ratio. Self- and cross fertilization. Hermaphroditism. Sexual selection.

  12. Macroevolution. Species and speciation. Patterns of evolution. Coevolution.

  13. Evolutionary reconstructions: phylogenetic trees. Reliability of tress. The use of phylogenetic trees.

  14. Constructive evolution: cases of in vitro selection, results and constraints. Evolution of artificial objects, technological evolution.

  • Maynard Smith, J. & Szathmáry, E. 1997: The major transitions in evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

  • Brett Calcott, Kim Sterelny: The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited, MIT Press, 2011, ISBN 9780262294539