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Syllabus:

Molecular ecology and evolution, 15 Credits

Swedish name: Molekylär ekologi och evolution

This syllabus is valid: 2022-01-03 and until further notice

Course code: 5BI257

Credit points: 15

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Biology: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Responsible department: Department of Ecology and Environmental Science

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2021-06-24

Contents

This course offers an overview of ecological and evolutionary processes in natural populations, and how they can be studied with molecular methods. The course introduces fundamental concepts and principles in population and quantitative genetics, meta-genomics, and landscape ecology for a better understanding of the forces operating in natural systems. Students gain insight into the use of common molecular methods, their strengths and limitations for ecological coupling. Specific topics include detection of genetic variation within and among populations, speciation, selection and local adaptation, environmental DNA (eDNA) assays, and biological conservation. This course takes account of the technology breakthroughs achieved in recent years to give students a fully updated guide to the increasingly prevalent use of molecular data in ecological studies and environmental monitoring.
The course consists of lectures, literature seminars, computer simulations, data exercises, and independent projects where students use empirical and simulation data to infer the distribution of genetic diversity at genome, population and community levels. Students will use DNA data to analyse and solve evolutionary and ecological problems.


Module 1, theory, 9 ECTS
This module deals with theory, methods and interpretation of molecular data coupled to particular ecological, genetic and evolutionary applications. This part is divided into four sections: population genetic diversity and speciation (2 ECTS), sequencing techniques and meta-genomics (2 ECTS), quantitative genetics: from phenotype to genotype (3 ECTS), and phylogeography and conservation (2 ECTS). Participation in computer exercises, literature seminars and project assignments is compulsory. Students are examined individually at the end of each section through compulsory data exercises and reports, literature seminars and discussions and oral or written presentations of the assignments.The first module (9 ECTS) deals with theory, methods and interpretation of molecular data coupled to particular ecological, genetic and evolutionary applications. This part is divided into four sections: population genetic diversity and speciation (2 ECTS), sequencing techniques and meta-genomics (2 ECTS), quantitative genetics: from phenotype to genotype (3 ECTS), and phylogeography and conservation (2 ECTS). Participation in computer exercises, literature seminars and project assignments is compulsory.
 
Module 2, project, 6 ECTS

This module requires that individual students carry out an in-depth exploratory project within the subject areas of the course. Students have access to a teacher-supervisor to guide them in finding the relevant data and literature, formulating questions, learning to argue critically and presenting evidence.

Expected learning outcomes

After completion of the course, for the grade Passed, the students should be able to:

Module 1,

1. Evaluate how genetic variation is detected and analyzed within and among individuals, populations and species.
2. Explain the ecological importance of genetic variation for e.g. speciation, adaptation to different environments, behavior and ecosystem dynamics.
3. Understand fundamental mathematical models of evolutionary processes and carry out basic computer simulations.
4. Work with different kinds of bioinformatic databases.

Module 1 and 2
5. Find, compile, assimilate and apply knowledge from biological databases.
6. Summarize and communicate discussions from seminars, literature and practical exercises, and demonstrate their knowledge orally and in written form.

Module 2
7. Review the literature  in molecular biology to answer questions within the fields of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology.
                                                                                                                                           
After completion of the course, for the grade Passed with distinction, the students should be able to:

Module 1 and 2

8. Critically evaluate scientific literature and construct scientific arguments within the areas of the course.

Module 2
Independently and critically evaluate the use of molecular methods to investigate theoretical and practical questions within the fields of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology.

Required Knowledge

Univ: 120 ECTS including 60 ECTS in Biology or Molecular biology, 30 ECTS of these 60 ECTS should be in Ecology and/or Genetics, or equivalent knowledge.

Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English A (IELTS (Academic) with a minimum overall score of 5.5 and no individual score below 5.0. TOEFL PBT
(Paper-based Test) with a minimum total score of 530 and a minimum TWE score of 4. TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) with a minimum total score of 72 and a minimum score of 17 on the Writing Section).
Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.

Form of instruction

Instruction is given in the form of lectures, practical exercises, computer labs and seminars. Excercises, computer labs and seminars are compulory. Students are required to read on their own in both parts of the course. Problem oriented learning methods are practiced in some sections.

Examination modes

The first module of the course is examined through data exercise reports, literature seminars and individual project presentations for each section separately. The second module is assessed via the writing of a formal essay or a project report and a seminar presentation. The grades assigned for each section, module and for the total course are Failed (U), Passed (G) and Passed with distinction (VG). For the grade Pass, the student must fulfill all expected study outcomes for the grade Pass. For the grade Pass with Distinction, the student must also fulfill all expected study outcome for the grade Pass with Distinction.To pass the course, a pass grade must be obtained on all examinations and obligatory exercises. To obtain a Pass with Distinction on the whole course, students must attain Passed with Distinction on both modules. All examinations are taken individually. The final grade is a summary assessment of results from all examinations and obligatory exercises and is not awarded before all obligatory elements have been passed.
 
Student who fail have the right to perform the assignment again in order to obtain a passing grade. Furthermore, students who fail the evaluation twice have the right to request that the Board of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science assign a second examiner for assessment of grades. Students who have passed an exam may not sit a second time to obtain a higher grade. To pass the entire course, all examinations and compulsory parts of the course must be completed and passed. The final course grade is a combined assessment of performance in all sections and the final individual essay or project report.

Crediting
Students have the right to have their previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired in the profession tested whether it can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application for credit is submitted to the Student Centre / Examinations. For more information on credit transfer available on Umeå University's student web, www.student.umu.se, and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole as well as part of the application if accreditation is refused.

Departures from the form of examination can be made for a student who has a decision for educational support due to a disability. Individual adaptation of the examination form must be considered based on the student's needs. The form of examination is adapted within the framework of the syllabus's expected study results. At the request of the student, the teacher responsible for the course, in consultation with the examiner, must quickly decide on a suitable examination form. The decision must then be notified to the student.

Other regulations

In the event that the course plan ceases to apply or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three exam opportunities (including regular examinations) according to the rules in the syllabus that the student was originally registered for, for a maximum of two years from the date of expiry of the previous course plan or the course ceased being offered.

Literature

The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.