Natural History of Vertebrates Lecture (ZO 556)
Spring 2018

instructor: Dwight Moore, Ph.D.
office - Science Hall 144
phone - 620-341-5611
email -    (put "vertebrates" in the subject line)

office hours:    Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 11:00 - 12:00, Thursday 9:00 - 11:00, and by appointment. In addition, if I am in my office and not already talking to another person, feel free to stop in.    my schedule

text:Pough, F. H., C. M. Janis, and J. B. Heiser 2013. Vertebrate Life. 9th edition. Pearson, Boston. 634pp.(required)

Day, R. A. 1992. Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and other Professionals. Oryx Press. (recommended)

section: ZO 556, MWF 8:00 - 8:50, Science Hall 46

I. course description:

Natural History of Vertebrates is a course designed for biology majors. The objective of the course is to provide an in-depth study of the vertebrates. Topics will include the origin and evolution of vertebrates, and their ecology, behavior and specializations. The lecture will also introduce the theories concerning the evolution of the vertebrates and the evidence that supports those theories.
Even though the lecture course (ZO 556) is a separate course from lab (ZO 557), both courses support each other. You can not take one course without the other, that is you must be concurrently enrolled in both courses. If you fail either course, you must repeat both courses.

II. pre-requisites:

You must have completed biology of animals and lab (ZO 214/215) and ecology (EB 480) or their equivalents. Genetics (GB 425) is recommended. These courses will give you a basic understanding of animals and their evolution and organization and the basics for understanding the ecology of the vertebrates. Natural History of Vertebrates will then build on this information.

III. Objectives IV. course organization:

Material will be presented primarily in the form of lectures and reading assignments from the text. Lecture will cover the points to be learned and will direct your study from the text. You can not expect to pass Natural History of Vertebrates without intensive study outside of lecture (2 hours of study for every hour in class). The material presented in the latter part of the course will be based on material presented in the first part of the course, therefore you will have to commit the material to long term memory. In addition, the final exam is comprehensive.

I have placed notes from the lecture on a web site. I am assuming that you will read these notes each day before coming to class. In addition, there will be material for which your are responsible that may only be presented in these notes on the web site. Do not ignore these notes; they are not optional material.

V. grading:

Your grade will be determined based upon the total points earned on examinations, a term paper, homework assignments from the biography, and daily summaries of your notes. There is no provision for doing extra or outside work to improve your grade.

A  = 92.0% to 100%
A-  = 89.0% to 91.9%
B+  = 86.0% to 88.9%
B  = 83.0% to 85.9%
B-  = 79.0% to 82.9%
C+  = 76.0% to 78.9%
C  = 70.0% to 75.9%
D  = 60.0% to 69.9%
F < 60.0%

examinations: Three tests plus a final exam are scheduled for the semester (see class schedule). The final exam is comprehensive. Each test is worth 100 points. The final exam is worth 200 points, 100 points over material since the last test and 100 points over material from the previous three tests. This yields 500 possible points on the exams. If you have to miss an exam for whatever reason, I would appreciate it if you would make arrangements before hand to take the exam. If you have several other tests scheduled for the day of an exam or some other catastrophe befalls you, you may postpone the test a day or two. If, before you take the exam, you discuss the exam with any classmate(s) for any reason, even to ask how long the test is, you and the classmate(s) with whom you talked will receive an "F"; it is, after all, cheating. The make up exam may not be the same test as that taken by the rest of the class.

Electronic dictionaries, cellphones, or calculators with a memory are not permitted during examinations. If you are an international student and a non-native speaker of English, you may use a paper version of a general English/your native language dictionary. You may not use a medical or scientific dictionary.

term paper: The paper is worth about 20% of your grade (140 points). The term paper must be a review article about some aspect (for example; evolution, behavior, foraging ecology, reproduction, energetics) of a taxon of vertebrates (order, family, genus, or species). Your paper should be an in-depth summary and discussion about your topic. This assignment is in three parts.

First, a literature search plus a 2-page summary of two of the articles from the primary literature is due at the beginning of class on 21 February 2018 (late penalty points apply, see below). You must include 1) evidence of having done an online computer search for citations in one of the biology-related, electronic databases such as BioOne or Biological Abstracts (print-out from the computer), 2) a complete copy of the two articles, and 3) your summary of the two articles. This summary must be at least 2.0 full pages exclusive of the literature cited, but not more than 3.0. The summary must be typed in exactly the style of the term paper that is due later in the semester and statements that you make in the summary must be supported with appropriate citations that are then listed in the "literature cited" section at the end of the paper. The two articles must address the same topic and your summary must indicate the relationships between the two papers. For example, one paper builds on the work of a previous paper, or the two papers present opposite views of the same topic, or the two papers reach the same conclusions but use different methods. The summary should include why the authors performed the research, how they did the research, what they found, and a discussion of the results. Also, include a paragraph that addresses why you chose your particular topic. This summary is worth 20 points. The summary will be graded based upon its grammatical correctness and upon your ability to summarize the findings. Be sure to read the "Instructions for Review Papers in Natural History of Vertebrates" and pay particular attention to the sections on citing literature and plagiarism.

The second part is an annotated bibliography, which is worth 20 points and is due on 28 March 2018 (late penalty points apply). The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to ensure that you have completed a large part of your literature search a few weeks before the paper is due, that you have at least skimmed the sources for information, and that you have a pool of sources from which you can choose the ones that address the topic of your paper. The bibliography must contain a minimum of 20 entries, at least half of which are from the primary literature. Each entry must contain 1) the citation in exactly the format specified in the "Instructions for Review Papers in Natural History of Vertebrates", 2) a statement as to wether the citation is from the primary literature or not, and 3) three or four sentences that briefly describe the content of the paper that is relevant to your topic. The citations must be in alphabetical order just as they would be in the literature cited section of your paper. The title of your bibliography must be a working title for your paper.

The third part is the paper itself, which is worth 100 points. There is no upper limit to the number of citations that would be appropriate. You should use as many as is possible concerning your topic, however, minimally the literature cited section must contain at least 12 citations, with at least 8 of these from the primary scientific literature. Your paper should be typed and double-spaced and at least 10.0 pages of text, exclusive of the literature cited, and with margins that are less than or equal to one inch on all sides on every page. For additional information and directions see the "Instructions for Review Papers in Natural History of Vertebrates". The format of your paper must follow exactly the style given in the "Instructions for Review Papers in Natural History of Vertebrates". Your paper will be graded on its scientific content and the coverage of the topic, in addition, the paper will be graded on grammar, clarity, and freedom from typographical and spelling errors. Papers are due at the beginning of class on 2 May 2018. A 5-point penalty (5% of the total points possible) will be assessed for every day that the paper is late, and of course, days during holidays and weekends count as days late. Plagiarizing your paper from some other source or collaborative efforts with other students will be considered cheating and will result in a grade of zero on all three parts of the paper assignments for your efforts. Be sure to carefully read the section on plagiarizing and quoting from other sources in "Instructions for Review Papers in Natural History of Vertebrates". In addition, if you turn-in essentially this same paper for a different class, I will consider it cheating and give you a zero on the paper. Be sure to review the Policies on Academic Dishonesty of Emporia State University and the Department of Biological Sciences.

V. attendance:

I will sometimes take attendance, even though I will not count lack of attendance against you. However, if you do not come to class, you will be unable to check if your understanding of the material is adequate. You should be committed enough to your education to come to class, otherwise you are just wasting your money.

VI. academic dishonesty:

Plagiarism, which was mentioned above and is described in more detail in the "Instructions for Review Papers in Natural History of Vertebrates" will result in a zero on all three parts of your term paper. In addition, any student who permits another student to use his/her work will get a zero on the assignment. Finally, any copying or other forms of cheating during a test will result in a zero on that exam. The Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences will be informed of all acts of academic dishonesty and the action taken against the offender. Your name will also be placed on a list maintained by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Be sure to review the Policies on Academic Dishonesty of Emporia State University and the Department of Biological Sciences.

VII. accomodations for disabilities:

Emporia State University will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students need to contact the Director of Disability Services (Plumb Hall 106, 341-6637) and the professor as early in the semester as possible to ensure that classroom and academic accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. All communication between students, the Office of Disability Services, and the professor will be strictly confidential.

VIII. home page:

There is a home page for this course on ESU's academic server. In addition, to the notes and the syllabus, there will be other information on the server that will be useful to you during the course. I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this information during the course. The URL for the home page is

IX. important and useful information from the registrar.


Days that papers are due or that tests will occur.

17 Jan introduction, cladistics
19 Janorgan systems
22 Janclassification and origin of vertebrates
24 Janfossils, ecology
26 Jancontinental drift; historical biogeography
29 Janearliest vertbrates, agnathans
31 Janhagfishes and lampreys
2 Febhagfishes and lampreys, chondrichtyes
5 Febchondrichthyes
7 Febchondrichthyes, osteichthyes
9 Feb osteichthyes
12 Feb exam I
14 Feb specializations for life in the water
16 Feb specializations for life in the water
19 Feb lobe-finned fish
21 Feb radiation and origin of the tetrapods
summary for term paper due
23 Feb radiation and origin of the tetrapods
26 Feb amphibians
28 Feb amphibians
2 Mar amphibians
5 Mar amphibian specializations
7 Mar amphibian specializations
9 Mar amniotes
12 Mar amniotes
14 Mar exam II
16 Mar turtles
19 Mar no class, Spring Break
21 Mar no class, Spring Break
23 Mar no class, Spring Break
26 Mardiapsids, dinosaurs
28 Mardinosaurs
annotated bibliography due
30 Mar mass extinctions
2 Apr lizards and snakes
4 Apr specializations of lizards and snakes
last day for a withdrawal without permission from the assoc. vice president
6 Apr specializations of lizards and snakes
9 Apr birds
11 Apr origin of birds and flight
13 Apr exam III
16 Apr specializations of birds
18 Apr specializations of birds
20 Apr synapsids
23 Apr origin of mammals
25 Apr evolution of mammals
27 Apr endothermy versus ectothermy
30 Apr water balance
2 May specializations of mammals
term paper due
4 Mayevolution of humans
11 May final exam Friday, 10:10,
(100 points from the first three exams plus 100 points from new material).

Provide comments to Dwight Moore at
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