BIOL 355 (Fall)

Trees: Ecology & Evolution

Lectures: TBA
(Given in alternate years: not offered in 2014-2015)

Biol 355 - Course Website
M. Lechowicz
(514) 398-6456
3 credits (3-0-6)
BIOL 205 and BIOL 215 or equivalent or by permission of instructor.  This course is open to undergraduate students who have reasonable core-level background in organismal plant biology, ecology and evolution; knowledge of cell and molecular biology is not essential.  Students with majors in Biology, Geography and Environment are the most likely to have the necessary preparation, but others may also have the required preparation through formal or informal study.  Consult the instructor if you are uncertain about your prerequisites.  Note that the course is taught in Fall of odd-number years (2009, 2011 etc)
BIOL 555D1/D2. This is a graduate student analog to BIOL 355, also a 3-credit course but running throughout the academic year. Very well prepared undergraduates can take BIOL 555D1/D2 instead of BIOL 355 if they are comfortable with a more tutorial format and willing and able to take on a fairly major, literature-based research project.
This lecture course summarizes the main patterns of variation in the form and function of trees, how this variation arose in evolution and how it contributes to the present diversity of forest communities. (For more details, please visit the Biol 355 Home Page)
  • Week 1  Trees and forests of the world
  • Week 2  Evolutionary origins of the tree growth form
  • Week 3  Wood and bark
  • Week 4  Tree architecture: mechanics of form
  • Week 5  Leaves – form and function
  • Week 6  Growth and longevity
  • Week 7  Reproduction – flowering and fruiting
  • Week 8  Reproduction – dispersal and establishment
  • Week 9  Seasonality and phenology
  • Week 10 Herbivory
  • Week 11 Disease and decay
  • Week 12 Life history strategies
  • Week 13 Assembly of forest tree communities
  • Week 14 Retrospective review and discussion
Selected primary literature, review articles.
Two 1.5 hour lectures every week, including discussion.  Every student also will undertake a term project involving a review and synthesis of literature that explores some aspect of plant function.

The grade for the course will rest on contributions to class discussions, a formal proposal for the term paper, the term paper itself  and a final essay examination.

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: April 7, 2014