Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


Search Search    Print Print


Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 6
Hours 48
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code SM02 5S126


A basic knowledge of genetics, zoology and ecology is required.

Development of the course

The course takes place during the second semester of the first year (Second Level degree in Marine biology).

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to depict a general view about evolution in the light of the outcome of the molecular biology and of developmental genetics, but without disregarding morphological and paleontological evidence. The importance of speciation processes and macroevolutionary trends is stressed, with examples from evolution of vertebrates adapted to marine environment.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
At the end of the course, graduates will be able i) to recognize and correctly classify the most representative species of the major taxonomic groups of marine vertebrates (agnathans, cartilaginous and bony fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals), ii) to explain the different adaptive specializations of vertebrate to marine environment; iii) apply the principles of conservation genetics to the management of species of marine vertebrates subject to commercial exploitation (fishery).

Soft Skills:
At the end of the course, students should know how biological processes like mutation, selection, migration and genetic drift are able to produce the evolutionary change. They shall also know the basic molecular methods (DNA extraction, amplification by PCR, genotyping) to monitor the genetic polymorphism of natural populations of marine vertebrates.


Contents (frontal lessons, 5 CFU, 40 hours):
The coming of the modern evolutionary thought. Darwin and the natural selection; the Neo-Darwinism and the “new synthesis”; phyletic gradualism vs punctuated equilibria; the neutral theory of molecular evolution.
Classification and evolution. Definitions and examples of taxonomic characters (morphological vs molecular; general vs special adaptations); taxonomic schools (numerical taxonomy, cladistics and evolutionary taxonomy); software for phylogenetic reconstruction.
Microevolution. The Hardy-Weinberg principle; gene flow and drift; species concepts; geographic variation and speciation; speciation in marine environment; stock concepts and fishery management; principles of conservation genetics.
Macroevolution. Homeotic genes and body plan organization; the origin of the high order taxa; evolutionary trends and mass extinction. Bony fishes as an example of primary radiation in aquatic environment: origin and evolution; biological and ecological traits of marine species. Marine reptiles (turtles) and Mammals (sirenians, pinnipeds and cetaceans) as examples of   recolonization of aquatic environment from terrestrial ancestors: origin and evolution; biological and ecological traits of extant species and conservation problems.
Lab practice (1 CFU, 8 hours). Methods for the identification of marine vertebrate species. Population genetics analysis (DNA extraction, amplification by PCR, genotyping).

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The exam is oral.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
Criteria for evaluating learning will be based on the student's level of competence (acquired knowledge and capacity in exposing the subject).

Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:
The learning measurement criteria will be expressed by a scale of thirty.

Criteria for conferring final mark:
Considering enough the score 18/30, giving praise to students who have distinguished themselves for the sake of clarity and full knowledge for the matter.

Recommended reading

Appunti di lezione
Berta A., Sumich J. L., 2006. Marine mammals. Evolutionary biology. Academic Press (second edition).
Freeman S., Herron J. C., 2014. Evolutionary analysis. Fifth edition. Pearson.
Ridley M., 2004. Evoluzione. McGraw Hill.
Futuyma D.J., 2008. L’evoluzione. Zanichelli.
Pough F. H., et al., 2014 Zoologia dei Vertebrati. Pearson.

  • Biologia marina

Università Politecnica delle Marche
P.zza Roma 22, 60121 Ancona
Tel (+39) 071.220.1, Fax (+39) 071.220.2324
P.I. 00382520427