Sunday, April 02, 2006


Course Aim

To define what Biodiversity is, its evolutionary history from the creation of our planet, the distribution and global patterns, interpretation and assessment of Biodiversity and its management. The course concludes with an analysis of the situation in South Africa.


  1. Will review literature on the evolution of Biodiversity.
  2. Will interpret major events in the evolution of biodiversity.
  3. Will examine the driving (selective) forces that have contributed to past and present distributional patterns of taxa
  4. Will examine how we interpret phylogenies and construct cladograms/evolutionary trees
  5. Develop strategies for the conservation of Biodiversity

Stated content as per SAQA

  1. Importance and significance of biodiversity.
  2. Assessment of biodiversity
  3. Analysis techniques
  4. Conservation

The course will have the following specific topics

  1. A philosophical debate on what biodiversity is and why it is important?
  2. Origin of the earth, genesis of life,
  3. review of the major groups of animals and plant forms based on the gelogical periods
  4. The role of plate tectonics in shaping past and present biogeographical patterns
  5. Diversity Crises in the Past (Extinction Events)
  6. Selected taxa will be explored
  7. Biological Species concept - illustrated with African Antelopes
  8. An Ecosystem approach to understanding Tropical Ecosystems.
  9. Measuring global biodiversity and its decline
  10. Anthropogenic factors and Biodiversity loss
  11. Nomenclature - the key to Biodiversity
  12. Systematics- keystone to understanding Biodiversity
  13. Phylogeny and d historical reconstruction of host-parasite systems
  14. Impact of Rapid Gene Discovery Technology o Studies of Evolution and Biodiversity
  15. Gap analysis for Biodiversity Survey and Maitenance
  16. Value of Biodiversity
  17. Biodiversity patterns and conservation in Africa/South Africa
  18. Convention on Biodiversity and Information Management for Biodiversity

Text Books

  1. Wilson, E.O. (1988) Biodiversity. National Academy of Sciences/Smithsonian Institution, 538 pages. ISBN 0-309-56736-X. PDF available from the National Academies Press at
  2. Reaka-Kudla, M.L., Wilson, D.E & Wilson, E.O (1997) Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources. A Joseph Henry Press, 560 pages. ISBN0-309-52075-4. PDF aviable from the Josephy Henry Press at
  3. Page, R.D.M & Holmes, E.C. (1998) "Molecular Evolution - A Phylogentic Approach" Blackwell Scientific, Oxford. ISBN 0-86542-889-1


  1. Tests 10%
  2. A term Project will be made into Web Resource 40% (obtaining, comprehending, reviewing and presenting primary literature)
  3. Assignments - to be posted on the Weblog 40% (10% for other Weblog participation)


  • This looks an intersting course to be in look forward to the contents

    By Anonymous vincent, at April 03, 2006 1:21 PM  

  • Dr. Knight

    Would it be possible for me to get a time-table of what is expected in your course and when? This will help me plan my time better.

    I have viewed the video which you gave me, however would like to see the example of what is required of us to do...I still need some clarification on this please.



    By Blogger davidvaughan, at April 04, 2006 7:01 AM  

  • Can't agree more with David. Some sort of time-table will make life a lot easier.


    By Anonymous Karen Marais, at April 06, 2006 4:49 PM  

  • Rich wants us to plan for six hours for us to be with him so guys can we plan for them.

    By Anonymous vincent, at April 08, 2006 1:33 AM  

  • Thursdays is out. David, when do you have Parasitology?

    By Anonymous Karen Marais, at April 09, 2006 3:01 PM  

  • Parasitology on Mondays and Tuesdays, but the two consecutice days following the Easter weekend (Tuesday and Wednesday). Six hours? Is this in one day or spread out during the week?


    By Blogger davidvaughan, at April 09, 2006 6:22 PM  

  • I have no idea. Would imagine it would have to be spread over two days. That would leave us with Wednesdays and Fridays. (I was hoping to be able to do this via the internet, though.)
    Vincent, is Wednesdays and Fridays okay with you?


    By Anonymous Karen Marais, at April 10, 2006 7:53 AM  

  • Dear Dr. Knight

    As per your request by e-mail, this comment serves as confirmation of acceptance of the conditions set out for the Biodiversity course on-line.

    Thank you for your consideration.


    David Vaughan

    By Blogger davidvaughan, at April 10, 2006 5:26 PM  

  • Thanks you for giving the course outline. I hope i will enjoy it.

    By Blogger linette, at May 02, 2006 12:09 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger lizzy, at May 02, 2006 12:18 PM  

  • hey Guys
    will u please share with us,the video?

    By Blogger Ramapulana, at May 03, 2006 10:13 AM  

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