Vertebrate Zoology: Animal Systems, Evolution, and Ecology

Fall 2021
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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Vertebrate animals represent a diverse and ecologically important component of all life on earth. They contribute to the vast majority of the described biodiversity on our planet and can be found in virtually every ecosystem from the deep ocean to the tops of our highest mountains. They are integral to ecosystem functions at scales small and large. Despite this variation in form and ecology, vertebrates all share a set of distinctive shared traits. In this program we will gain a broad understanding of animal diversity and patterns of divergence by reviewing the major groups of vertebrates - fishes, herptiles, birds, and mammals. This program will investigate the relationship between form, function, and species interactions to gain a deeper understanding evolutionary processes and the role of ecology as the interface for evolutionary change. We will map the appearance and radiation of animals across geologic time and investigate global patterns of climate and ecosystem distribution and how animal biodiversity relates to those patterns.

Course content will be covered via lectures, workshops, labs, and field outings. We are planning to have as much learning time as possible in-person. Lectures and workshops will be offered remotely and we'll be having at least one field exercise per week and several lab activities over the course of the quarter. Learning will be evaluated via: periodic assessments of textbook material, field and lab notebooks, and the final project. Connections between textbook learning and current research will be made via workshops and a final project.

Students completing the program will gain a foundation in evolutionary processes as they relate to vertebrates, animal ecology, comparative anatomy and physiology, and introductory concepts relating to advanced organismal biology, wildlife biology, ecology, and evolution. Field trips will focus on vertebrate ecology at local field sites including avian foraging ecology, sampling the distribution of fishes in local streams, and trophic interactions among mammals, birds, and fishes in Pacific Northwest forests, streams, and marine environments.



General Biology with lab (a minimum of 8 credits)

Fall 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10270

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies and careers in

Environmental Science, Ecology, Conservation, Zoology, Wildlife Biology

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$50 for lab fees

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper division science credit may be awarded upon successful completion of all program requirements and sufficient demonstration of upper division level work. Standard level credit will be awarded for completion of work below the expectations of Upper Division work. Credit will be awarded in Vertebrate Zoology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, and Vertebrate Behavior.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting