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)