Topic Reading2
1 (8/27)
Scientific assumptions & method; Natural selection V-Preface, V1, & adaptation W-Introduction, W1 
 2 (9/3)
History of evolutionary thought; Geological time & V16 (p. 174-175) Geology W2 
 3 (9/10)
Origin of life; Evolution of eucaryote cell; Early V14, unicellular fossils & tracks 
 4 (9/17)
Repeating units; the Cambrian explosion & major events V13, V16 in the history of life. (No Class 9/19
 5 (9/24)
Classification, systematics & taxonomy 
 6 (10/1)
Midterm I (M, 10/1) Species definitions, species V10, V11 formation, & barriers to hybridization between species 
 7 (10/8)
DNA replication, gene expression, & mutation; Mendelian V3, V4 genetics; Gene interactions & quantative genetics 
 8 (10/15)
The Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium equation; Evolution V5, V9 of gene frequencies: mutation, genetic drift 
 9 (10/22)
 Evolution of gene frequencies: gene flow, natural V6, W3, W4, W5 selection - a genetic perspective; Modes of selection; Assortative mating, Sexual selection 
10 (10/29) 
Examples of natural selection in action V7, V8 Midterm II (W, 10/31); more examples 
 11 (11/5)
Continental drift; Biogeography; Macroevolution 
 12 (11/12)
Punctuated equilibria; Why adaptive radiations? V12, V13 
 13 (11/19)
 14 (11/26)
Higher units of selection; Sociobiology V20, V21, W6, W7 
 15 (12/3)
Social issues related to evolution; creationism V-Epilogue, W8, W9 is not science 
 16 (12/10)
Review: Evolutionary biology of the threespine stickleback fish. 
Final Examination (W 8:00 - 10:30 am) 


1Dates in parentheses are the dates on Tuesday of each week. 2Chapters in Volpe and Rosenbaum (V) or Williams (W). Reading assignments should be completed by Monday of the week for which they are assigned.


Contact Information and Office Hours: Michael A. Bell, Life Sciences 023 (basement); e-mail: mabell@life.bio.sunysb.edu); phones: 631-632-8474 (lab) or 631-632-8600 (message in Department of Ecology and Evolution). (Use underlined numbers from campus phones.) I will hold office hours immediately after class by appointment (see me after class) and Tuesday 2:30-3:30. Talk to me in lecture to make an appointment for another time.

Course Objective: Evolution is the key to understanding biological processes and the biological environment in which we live. It is also important to understand issues that as citizens we will be required to decide. Evolution and Society is an introduction to evolutionary history and the processes that have produced this history. The implications of evolution for the current social and public issues are also considered. Evolution and Society is designed for students not majoring in biology.

Prerequisites: There are no required prerequisites, but it is recommended that you have taken at least one biology course prior to taking this one.

Reading: Reading is assigned from the following two books:

G.. C. Williams. 1996. The Pony Fish's Glow. Basic Books, New York.

E. P. Volpe and P. A. Rosenbaum. 2000. Understanding Evolution, 6th ed. McGraw Hill, Boston

These books may be purchased at Stony Books (near the train station on 25A) but not at the campus book store. Reading assignments must be completed by Monday of the week in which they are listed in the lecture schedule.

Examinations, papers and grading: Grades will be based on 700 points, distributed as follows:

Unnannounced Quizzes (as needed, see below)
Midterm I - Monday, October 1
Midterm II - Wednesday, October 31
Short Term Paper - date and content to be determined
Final Exam - Wednesday, December 19, 8:00 - 10:30 am

Unannounced quizzes will be given occasionally to encourage students to keep up with the reading and review the lecture material on a regular basis.

Midterms will be based on information presented in all prior lectures, except the lecture immediately preceding a midterm, and on reading assigned for the period since the previous examination, including the week of the exam. The second midterm will include 50 points of review questions, and the final exam will include 100 points of review divided between material from the first two thirds of the course. There will be relatively few reading questions (5 - 15% of points), and they will be general enough to be answered after a single attentive reading of the texts. Midterms will be designed to take about 50 minutes, and answers will be written directly on the test sheets. Most questions will require a few words or sentences.

Quizzes and Midterms will normally be returned at the end of lecture within a week after they were taken. When you receive your test, check addition of the score immediately. Then compare your answers to the grading key posted outside Mike Bell's office and possibly on a course web site. See us within one week after the midterm is returned if you want a question regraded, as instructed when the exam is returned.

Give us advanced notice if you expect to miss a scheduled exam. Contact us as soon as possible after an exam if advanced notice is impossible. If no valid excuse (preferably written) is provided, a grade of zero will be assigned for missed quizzes and midterms. If a valid excuse is provided, at our discretion, a makeup exam will be scheduled or a score will assigned by prorating scores from subsequent exams. You must take the final exam and at least one midterm to receive credit for the course. Students who miss the final exam without a valid excuse will be assigned a grade of F in the course.

I think I will assign a short paper worth 50 points, but have not had time to think through the timing or content yet. You will be given at least three weeks' notice of the timing and general format of the paper, if I decide to assign it.

Course Grade Distribution: The course grade will be computed by adding all quiz and exam scores. The average grade in this course should be a middle C (2.4, A = 4.0). However, the grade distribution (including +/-) and average grade depend on the point distribution.

Religious Observances: Please inform me immediately if any of the assignments or examinations in this course conflict with a religious holiday you observe. Provisions will be made to allow you to complete your work and observe the holiday.

Disabilities: If you have a physical, psychiatric, emotional, medical, or learning disability that may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work, contact staff in the Disabled Student Services office (DSS), Humanities Building room 133 (632-6748/TDD). DSS will review your concerns, determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate, and inform me. Information and documentation of disability are confidential.

Academic Dishonesty: Any effort to circumvent the evaluation processes of the course to improve any student's grade in this course is academic dishonesty. Such efforts include, but are not limited to, unauthorized examination of written materials (e.g., neighbors' papers, notes on one's hand) during examinations, theft of exam materials prior to an exam, plagiarism (see below), misrepresentation of the cause of an absence from an examination, and theft of University library materials. Students who commit academic dishonesty gain an unfair advantage in the course compared to other students and may impose significant costs on the University.

Please report academic dishonesty to me, and anonymity will be protected, if requested. If we believe academic dishonesty has occurred, we will submit an accusation with supporting evidence to the Academic Judiciary Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences and recommend of F in the course (see Undergraduate Bulletin). Accused students will be informed after the report has been submitted. There is no justification for academic dishonesty.

Plagiarism is misrepresentation of another person's writing as one's own. You are responsible for understanding what plagiarism is; see us if you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism includes photocopying or changing the name on a paper written by another student. Submitting text downloaded from the internet without attribution. It also includes incorporating one or more sentences from published or unpublished sources, whether they are intact or slightly modified, whether the sentences are consecutive or scattered among sentences you have written yourself. It even includes incorporating pieces of sentences written by other authors into your own sentences. Plagiarism is prohibited because you are expected to learn a topic and discuss it in your own words. (A paper consisting of long passages in quotation marks with literature citations is not plagiarism but does not reflect your learning and will be graded accordingly.) If we believe plagiarism has occurred in this course, we will treat it as academic dishonesty, as described above.

While we try to discourage cheating to protect honest students, we encourage students to work together to prepare for examinations and to criticize (not rewriting) the form (including proofreading) and content of other student's papers. However, if you prepare for an exam with another student, do not sit near her/him during the exam because students who study together sometimes make similar errors, raising the suspicion of cheating. Innocence is easily verified if students with similar errors sat far apart during the test.

Lectures: Sometimes I mis-speak, am unclear, or present information that is simply difficult, too condensed, or assumes you know something you have never been taught. Please do not hesitate to ask for immediate clarification during a lecture. Such questions both insure that unclear points are clarified and provide me with feedback on the clarity of my lectures. (If I am impatient with your question, please say, "Stop being crabby!")

Letters of Reference: It is usually hard to get to know students well enough in a lecture course to write an informative letter of reference. Thus, I do not anticipate writing many letters of reference for students in this course. However, if you feel the TA or I have had a chance to get to know you, please speak to me well before the end of the course about writing a letter of reference in your behalf.