Biology 232

Biology 232: Organismal Biology

Prerequisite: BIOL 131

Credit Hours: (4) Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory

A phylogenetic approach to the study of organismal structure and function, with emphasis on the anatomy, physiology, and diversity of major groups of plants, animals, and selected protists and fungi.  Topics include functional organization and body plans, reproduction, growth, development, regulation, nutrition, and transport.  Laboratory experiments and projects apply course concepts and scientific methodology to biological research questions.  This is the final course in a four course sequence intended for biology, medical technology, and other science majors and serves to integrate topics and skills introduced in earlier core courses.  This core sequence serves as a foundation and prerequisite for further study in biology.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

    ▪ Evolution and the diversity of life

        -Origin, evolution, and properties of life

        - Systematics and classification: using phylogenies to depict evolutionary relationships

        - The three domain system of classification

    ▪ Fungal form and function: general biology and diversity of fungi

    ▪ Animal form and function

        - Overview of major animal groups, emphasizing general features of animals, body plans, and evolutionary development of noncoelomate invertebrate, coelomate invertebrate, and vertebrate animals

        - Organization of the vertebrate body: tissues, organs, and organ systems

        - Structure and function of the nervous system

        - Structure and function of the endocrine system

        - Structure and function of the musculoskeletal system

        - Structure and function of the digestive system

        - Structure and function of the circulatory and respiratory systems

        - Structure and function of the reproductive system    

    ▪ Plant form and function

        - Overview of major plant groups, emphasizing ancestral protists and the colonization of land, and evolution of phtosynthetic protists, non-vascular plants, and vascular seed and flowering plants

        - Plant life cycles

        - Organization of the vascular plant body: tissues and vegetative organs (roots, stems, leaves)

        - Structure and function: plant growth and early plant development

        - Structure and function: plant reproduction (floral structure, pollination, fertilization, seed dispersal, asexual reproduction)


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will be taught in classroom and laboratory sessions.  Classroom instruction will include a combination of traditional lecture, class and small group discussion, group problem solving, and case studies, as determined by the instructor and in coordination with instructors in each of the core courses.

The course will include a component in reading published biological literature, and applying and analyzing the concepts and information therein.  This will be coordinated among the instructors of all four core courses.

The laboratory meetings will be coordinated with other courses in the core sequence to provide the students with the skills to design experiments, test hypotheses, troubleshoot experiments, perform appropriate statistical analyses and to report experimental results in the format of the biological literature.  This core course will focus on the following basic laboratory skills:

    • Designing experiments and analyzing data

    • Constructing and use dichotomous keys to identify organisms

    • Effectively using and caring for microscopes

    • Making accurate drawings of biological structures and processes

    • Correctly measuring length, volume, and mass using the metric system

    • Collecting and preserving plant and animal specimens

    • Conducting phylogenetic analyses and constructing cladograms


Goals and Objectives of Course

Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

    • Explain scientific evidence supporting our current understanding of the origin, evolution, and history of life on earth

    • Construct and interpret phylogenies representing evolutionary relationships among organisms

    • Describe the general characteristics and major groups of fungi

    • Describe the general characteristics of major groups of invertebrate and vertebrate animals, including evolution of the basic animal body plan and major tissues, organs, and organ systems of vertebrate animals

    • Describe the organization of the nervous system, transmission of nerve impulses, and functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems in vertebrate animals

    • Describe the regulation of body processes by chemical messengers, structure and function of the pituitary and hypothalamus, major peripheral endocrine glands, and other major hormones in the endocrine system of vertebrate animals

    • Describe major types of skeletal systems and means of animal locomotion, skeletal movement and muscle contraction, and other aspects of the musculoskeletal system

    • Describe types of animal digestive systems and the structure and function of major components of the digestive system

    • Explain differences between invertebrate and vertebrate circulatory systems, the structure and function of a four-chambered heart and blood vessels, and regulation of blood flow and blood pressure

    • Describe animal reproductive systems and strategies, including vertebrate fertilization and development and structure and function of the human reproductive system

    •  Describe the general characteristics and evolutionary history of the major groups of plants and ancestral protists

    • Describe and identify components of the typical plant life cycle in each major group of plants

    • Describe the basic tissues in the vascular plant body

    • Describe the structure, function, growth, and transport mechanisms in plant roots, stems and leaves

    • Explain sexual and asexual flowing plant reproduction, including the structure and function of flowers and fruits and evolutionary modifications of these for common pollination and seed dispersal mechanisms

    • Explain processes of early plant development, including seed germination and development of the early plant body

    • Make accurate observations, design experiments, and analyze data

    • Construct and use dichotomous keys to identify organisms

    • Using a microscope effectively

    • Make accurate drawings of biological structures and processes

    • Accurately measure length, volume, and mass using the metric system

    • Collect and preserve plant and animal specimens


Assessment Measures

Methods of assessment will include:

    - Analysis of written examinations, quizzes, writing to learn and other writing assignments, practical laboratory examinations, and laboratory reports.  Some component of the laboratory assessment will test the student's ability to make measurements and use the equipment.  Assessment measures may also include evaluation of student presentations and graded homework, depending on the instructor.

    - Analysis of skills in comprehending, synthesizing, and articulating course content.

    - Analysis of students' skills in critical thinking.

The success of the course as an integrated unit within the four-course core sequence will be assessed through feedback from instructors teaching the later courses and suggestions from instructors teaching the earlier course.  Pre- and post-testing will be used in the core courses to evaluate retention of concepts, information and skills.  Student writing will be compared between courses to assess improvement in reading and writing.


Other Course Information



Approval and Approval

New Course October 16, 2007

Revised    2/6/09    Gary Coté

April, 2011

Revised: March 20, 2012