BIOL 310 (Winter)

Biodiversity and Ecosystems

A. Gonzalez N3/2 (514) 398-6444
J. Sunday N8/3 (514) 398-8885
3 credits (3-0-6)
 BIOL 215 or both ENVR 200 and ENVR 202, MATH 112 or equivalent; or permission of the instructor
This course provides undergraduate students with a strong ecological and evolutionary basis to understand the natural causes and consequences of current global environmental changes. It explores the origin and distribution of biodiversity, how biodiversity is defined and measured, how it varies in space and time, and how its loss impacts human societies. BIOL 304, BIOL 308 and BIOL 310 will be highly complementary. BIOL 310, however, does not require BIOL 308 or BIOL 304 as prerequisites. Students with an environmental interest will find much relevant material in this course.

Topics covered include:

    • Biodiversity: concepts & measurement
    • The spatial distribution of biodiversity
    • Evolutionary origins of diversity
    • Ecological determinants of species richness, from local to global scales
    • Ecosystems: productivity, regulation, stability, regime shifts
    • Biodiversity and ecosystem services
    • Global change: biogeochemical cycles, climate, biodiversity
    • Species extinction and the biodiversity crisis
    • Global conservation priorities
No textbook but two books recommended: Biodiversity: An Introduction by Gaston and Spicer, 2nd ed. (2004) and The Challenges of Biodiversity Science by Loreau (2010); supplemental readings from the web.
Two 1.5-hour lectures per week. Two assignments with problem sets to be analyzed on a computer during the semester. One field trip to Mont St-Hilaire followed by a tutorial to analyze data from the field trip, and a written report.

Final exam, problem sets, field trip report, in-class presentation

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

Last update: March 20, 2019