This course is an introduction to the principles of life at the cellular and molecular level. Major topics include the molecules that encode biological information, prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, cell membranes and compartments, cell respiration, photosynthesis, transcription and translation,DNA replication and cell division, mutation, variation and inheritance.
This course is an introduction to the study of the principles and organization of life, including anatomy, form and function, physiology, life history and ecology. Topics include the origins of eukaryotic and multicellular life, plant structure and function, plant growth and reproduction, diversity of plants, and animals, themes of animal physiology, evolution, and population ecology.
Students examine the biological basis for human use of cannabis. Topics include the ecology and evolution of cannabis as a wild plant, domestication and horticulture, psychoactivity, neurology, therapeutic and adverse effects on human health.
This course is a survey of basic human anatomy. Students are introduced to the fundamental anatomical structures and terminology used by anatomists. Students investigate the principal structures of the eleven organ systems as well as tissue organization, connective tissues, and joints.
This course is an introduction to plant biology, with emphasis on angiosperm plant structure, reproduction and development, basic mechanisms of photosynthesis and respiration, plant nutrition, and growth regulation. Land plants are also studied from an evolutionary perspective, spanning from the first appearance of plants on land to the major groups present today.
Students are introduced to the taxonomic treatment of major animal phyla with reference to anatomy, function and ecological significance.
This course is an introduction to the major topics in genetics. Emphasis is placed on how genes are passed from generation to generation and how genes interact with one another. Topics include the environment that determines phenotype, the creation of genetic variation, mapping genes on chromosomes, and the practical application of this knowledge.
This course is an introduction to the eukaryotic cell with emphasis on the chemical and genetic basis of cellular activities and the division of the cell into membrane-bound and biochemically specialized compartments. The plasma membrane, cytosol, nucleus, cytoskeleton, Golgi apparatus, mitochondrion, chloroplasts and endoplasmic reticulum are considered.
Ecology is the study of interactions and relationships among organisms and their environment such as adaptations, competition and predation. Topics include the density, diversity and distribution of organisms, population dynamics, community relationships and structure, succession, and the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems.
This course is an introduction to the fascinating world of insects. The anatomy, physiology and taxonomy of this group are examined. Examination of insect specimens and recognition of the key features for identification is a focus.
Students examine basic definitions and principles of physiology at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels. Topics include the fundamentals of membrane structure and function, enzymes and enzyme kinetics, bioenergetics, signal transduction, feedback regulation, cell structure, function, and integration of neurons and skeletal muscles.
Students study all aspects of forensic DNA typing protocols and interpretation. Lectures focus on theory and laboratory sessions involve actual DNA typing, where students work with their own DNA. These skills are highly transferrable,and are applicable to the genetic analysis of populations in general.
Students examine vertebrates, with consideration of structural modifications for particular life styles. A comparative and evolutionary approach is taken in lectures. Laboratory instruction involves dissection of representative animals.
Students study vertebrate physiology and physiological adaptations. Topics include the integration of the eleven organ systems and how they interact to maintain homeostasis. The physiology of vertebrates is compared as it pertains to their specific environment or success of the individual.
Students are introduced to the methods of graphing and analyzing quantitative data in the biological sciences with emphasis on practical applications of statistics in biology. Topics include descriptive statistics, normal and non-normal distributions, probability, correlation, regression, tests of significance such as analysis of variance, and sampling methods.
This is a hands-on course on the identification of plants in important vegetation types in Nova Scotia. Students examine the principles of plant taxonomy, prepare plant specimens and differentiate habitat types. Topics include the ecology of plant adaptations to the local environment, and applied ecology and conservation biology of key habitat types.
Contemporary systematics includes the study of the diversity of species and their relationships through time. Students examine species characters and character analyses, International Codes of Nomenclature, protocols for describing new species, cladistics-based phylogenetics and molecular sequence analyses, biological classification, and the importance of assessing evolutionary relationships between taxa.
Students are introduced to ecosystem ecology by examining ecosystem patterns and processes. Topics include biological hierarchy, energy and material flow through systems, ecosystem structure and food web analysis, ecosystem assembly/succession, stability and resiliency, and successional reversal and ecosystem responses to stress. “Ecosystem Health”, “New Ecology” and the ecosystem-based “UN Millennium Assessment” are examined.
This course is an introduction to the world of microorganisms, the means by which they are studied, and their role in human disease. Topics may include: the origin and discovery of microbial life, structure and function of prokaryotic cells, cell growth and development, and the role of bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa with respect to the development of human disease.
Population genetics is the integration of mathematics with population biology, genetics, and evolution and allows researchers to quantitatively infer what is going on within and among populations based on genetic data. Students focus on developing a basic understanding of the main principles of population genetics and their application to real-word problems.
Students are introduced to the chemistry of genes, DNA, RNA, and protein structure. Topics include transcription, translation, the replication of DNA and RNA, and the organization of genes and genomes. Students will also learn basic molecular techniques.
This course is an introduction to the study of plants used by people, their origin, domestication, botany, cultivation, harvesting, uses, diseases, breeding, and their role in the modern world economy. Plants and plant products of industrial importance, medicinal plants, food plants, psychoactive plants, and food additives are examined.
Students are exposed to evolution and the importance of evolutionary thinking in biology. Topics include evolutionary theory, how evolutionary processes have resulted in the diversity of life today, and how evolutionary thinking can inform their daily lives.
This course explores the ecological interrelationships between plants and animals and the ways in which they use chemicals to communicate, attract mates, and protect themselves from predators. Topics include the chemical and morphological adaptations of insect defense, plant toxins and their effects on animals, insect and animal venoms, plant and fungal hallucinogens, hormonal and chemical interactions between plants and animals, animal pheromones, and plant allelopathy and its ecological importance.
Molecular ecology is the use of molecular techniques to provide insight into genetics, ecology, behaviour, and evolution. Students are provided with a broad overview of molecular biology and will also focus on advanced topics and theory, building on topics from population genetics.
This course provides students with the basic tools to design and conduct biological experiments. Topics include analysis of variance, regression, multivariate analysis, nonparametric methods, and model selection.
Students examine a variety of important plant microbial relationships that exist between plants and microbes such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists. These relationships include mutualistic, symbiotic and pathogenic interactions.
Students study practical methods of biological sequence analysis, including obtaining information from databases and comparing sequences to extract their functional and evolutionary information. Students can develop an understanding of current resources, as applied to the study of genomic DNA, gene expression, and the evolution of genes and proteins.
Students study current models of the nature of cancer and how cancer arises in a multicellular body. Topics include the molecular mechanisms that control normal growth and development, including oncogenes, tumor suppressors, the cell cycle, cell death, and cell communication. Students explore how molecular mechanisms act inappropriately in cancer cells, and how this knowledge influences anti-cancer therapies.
Osseous tissue is a very dynamic and important connective tissue. Students examine bone anatomy and associated joints. Topics covered include embryological development, histology, response to mechanical loading history, fracture identification, repair and remodeling. Students are introduced to the immune response of bone, and evidence of congenital and metabolic diseases of vertebrates and humans.
Behavioural Ecology is the examination of how animals interact in their environment with emphasis on the adaptive value of behaviour. Topics include the life-history trade-offs, foraging theory, predation, competition, game theory, natural and sexual selection, mating systems, parental care, and communication. Independent research is conducted in labs.
Students examine the genetic, biochemical, morphological, and physiological mechanisms underlying variation in athletic performance (e.g. running, swimming, jumping) among individuals, populations and species. This course will focus on the factors underlying evolutionary variation in exercise capacity and how ecological conditions can influence performance in a range of animal species, including humans.
The fundamental question of development is how differences arise between cells and tissues in the embryo. Students explore the major events leading to the formation of the embryo, and examine how various experimental manipulations help to define the mechanisms involved in generating different cell types and embryonic structures.
The focus of this course is on the classification, anatomy, physiology, ecology, conservation biology and evolutionary relationships of mammals. Emphasis is on mammals of Nova Scotia.
Students focus on plant populations and communities by exploring species composition, diversity, and interactions in field or laboratory projects.
Students study animal parasites of humans and domesticated animals. The taxonomy, life cycle and epidemiology of protists and helminthes are emphasized. Laboratory work involves microscopic diagnostics of the important parasite species.
This course is an introduction to the fungi and related microorganisms. Students study the morphology of representatives from each of the major taxonomic groups.
The uniqueness of fungal ultrastructure, physiology and genetics is examined. The many important ecological roles that fungi fill and their impact on humans are explored.
This course introduces students to how the principles of evolutionary-ecology can be applied to help us understand how human exploitation of natural resources affects biodiversity. Students characterize biodiversity and explore topics such as the biology of small populations, conservation genetics, ecological economics, and landscape ecology. In the lab students explore current topics in conservation biology through critiques, population modeling and independent research.
This course is a study of the ecology of fishes, their classification, life history and global distribution. The laboratory portion of the course emphasizes study of representatives of world taxa and the fishes of Nova Scotia.
Insect ecology and the relationship of insects to humans are explored. Topics may include the identification of insect pest species and their impact on human activities, morphological and behavioural modifications for specific ecological roles, population dynamics, the history and use of chemical insecticides, the use of insects as natural and biological control agents and integrated pest management.
Ornithology is the study of birds. Students examine the evolutionary history of birds, adaptations they have made for flight and for their particular niche, their behaviour, breeding systems and conservation. Nova Scotian species are identified through sight and song.
Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles. Topics include ecology, natural history, form and function of amphibians and reptiles with emphasis on Nova Scotia herpetofauna.
This course presents an introduction to the biology of insects and arthropods that cause disease in humans and domestic animals. Topics include the biology and behaviour of disease vectors and external parasites, the role of vectors in the transmission of disease organisms, life cycles of vector borne pathogens, and the mechanisms of vector and disease control.
Ecotoxicology is the study of anthropogenic contaminants in the natural environment. This course provides an introduction to the study of the fate and effects of toxic chemicals on the structure and function of ecological systems.
The design and practice of biological study of communities under field conditions at selected sites in Nova Scotia. The main emphasis is on how ecologists document the abundance of organisms and quantify the structure of a community.
This course provides students with an opportunity to study is be a field trip to a tropical location where students are able to immerse themselves in a tropical environment. Prior to departure students present and attend seminars on subjects
Each student will work with a research supervisor who guides them in the formulation of a research proposal, methods to be followed, and in the analysis and write-up of the research findings. The student submits a thesis and presents it orally.
Seminars followed by discussions based on recent advances in biology. In consultation with the honours advisor, the honours students will select and prepare the topics for presentation to biology faculty and students.
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