BIO 112: Organisms, Evolution, & Ecosystems


Professor:  Dr. Mark Stanback

Office:  Watson 282

Phone: 704-894-2325


Office Hours

Mon  1:00 - 2:00

Wed  10:00 – 12:00

or by appointment


Lecture:  TR  8:30 - 9:45 in Chambers 1003

Lab Section C (CRN 14138):  W  1:30 - 4:30  in Watson 119

Lab Section D (CRN 14139):  Th  1:00 – 4:00 in Watson 119


Course Description:  Biology 112 is intended as an in-depth introduction to the principles of biology at and above the level of the organism.  Our focus will be on evolution, ecology, physiology, and anatomy.  Biology 111 is a prerequisite for this course.


Important:  I use e-mail as a regular form of communication in this class and I expect that you will as well.  You should check your e-mail at least once a day.



Purves WK, Sadava D, Orians GH, Heller. 2004.  Life: the Science of Biology (7th. ed.)  Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass. 


Nesse RM, Williams GC. 1994. Why We Get Sick: the New Science of Darwinian Medicine. Random House, New York. 


Other Resources:

An excellent resource to access is the LifeWire internet page (  This resource has information, practice quizzes, animated tutorials, activities, and suggested readings for each chapter.  You will most likely benefit from this resource, so take advantage of it!

Every Tuesday we’ll start class by discussing any pertinent articles from the NY Times Science section.  You can read it for free by signing on at  No spam!  And a great way to keep up with cool findings in science!


Lab Fee:  There is a $10 lab fee due by the end of the first week.



Lecture Grade:

            Review 1 (4 Oct)                                                          =          100

            Review 2 (8 Nov)                                                         =          100

            Cumulative Final Exam (Chambers)                               =          200

            Why We Get Sick quizzes                                            =          100

Laboratory Grade:

            Pig Practical (15 Nov)                                                  =          100       

            Population Genetics Lab Reports                                  =            60

Plant Defenses  Lab Report                                          =            60

Total Course Points Possible                                                    =          720


Letter grades will be assigned using the following guidelines.


A         =  93.3 - 100% of total possible points

A-        =  89.9 -  93.29                                               C         =  73.3 - 76.59

B+       =  86.6 - 89.89                                                            C-        =  69.9 - 73.29

B          =  83.3 - 86.59                                                            D+       =  66.6 - 69.89

B-        =  79.9 - 83.29                                                            D         =  59.9 - 66.59

C+       =  76.6 - 79.89                                                            F          =  <59.9


Reviews:  Reviews will consist of multiple choice, short answer, and discussion questions.  Reviews will be taken in class and are closed book. 


Blackboard:  We will be making extensive use of Blackboard in this course.  I have posted spots (old reviews) on Blackboard, all lectures will be posted on there soon after I present them, some lab handouts will be posted there, and your photos will be there (it helps when you know each others’ names).  Although we can’t go entirely paperless in this course, you should try to minimize unnecessary printing.  As an incentive, I will give 5 points of extra credit to all students who resist the temptation to print out (or photocopy) the spots.  Same deal for the powerpoint lectures.  Every day is earth day!


Honor Code:  All of your work in this course is covered under the college honor code and must be pledged (the word “pledged” and your signature).  Points will be deducted from any work that is not pledged.   Please visit the following page on the departmental web site for a detailed discussion of what constitutes plagiarism in scientific writing


Attendance:  You are expected to attend all lecture and laboratory sessions and arrive on time. Attendance will be taken each day in class and will be considered in determining your final grade.  Any student missing more than 6 class meetings will receive a grade of F for the course.  You are on your honor to record attendance accurately on posted attendance sheets.  Unexcused absences from lab will not be tolerated: any student missing more than 3 lab meetings will receive a grade of F for the whole course.  A busy schedule (e.g. reviews in other courses, major papers due, commitments to service and social organizations, personal travel) will not be considered a valid excuse for switching lab sections or rescheduling reviews or lab practicals. 


Lecture topics will be covered in the order shown below.  I will announce in class which chapters/pages you should be reading for upcoming lectures and will inform you of all information to be covered on scheduled reviews.


Lecture Topics                                                 Chapters in Purves et al.


            Mechanisms of Evolution                                  1, 23

            Species and Speciation                         24



Behavioral Ecology                                           53

            Population/Community Ecology             54, 55

            Systems Ecology                                              58



            Intro to Physiology and Anatomy                      41 (in part)

            Hormones                                                        42 (in part)

            Osmoregulation                                                51 (in part)

            Circulation                                                        49

            Gas Exchange                                                   48

            Reproduction                                                    43


Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine

Many people mistakenly think that evolutionary biology has no relevance in our lives.  This short, readable book will not only address the importance of evolution to medicine, it will also help you to think like an evolutionary biologist. We will read this book during the first half of the semester and spend the beginning of each designated class period (see below) discussing it.  On these days, there will be a Blackboard quiz on the day’s material due before class.  There will be a total of 11 quizzes, each worth 9 points, for a total of 99 points (plus a freebie = 100). WWGS material will not be covered on the reviews or exam unless we also cover the material during lecture.


Date                 Chapter            Topic                                                                                                  

30 Aug             1, 2                  The Mystery of Disease, Evolution by Natural Selection           

1 Sept              3                      Signs and Symptoms of Infectious Disease       

6 Sept              4                      An Arms Race Without End     

8 Sept              5, 6                  Injury, Toxins

13 Sept            7                      Genes and Disease

15 Sept            8                      Aging as the Fountain of Youth

20 Sept            9                     Legacies of Evolutionary History

27 Sept            10                    Diseases of Civilization                                     

6 Oct               11, 12              Allergy, Cancer

13 Oct             13                    Reproduction

18 Oct             14, 15              Are Mental Disorders Diseases? The Evolution of Medicine


If you’re intrigued by this topic, take a look at these books in the library:


Ewald PW. 1994. The Evolution of Infectious Disease. Oxford, New York.

Stearns SC. 1999. Evolution in Health and Disease. Oxford, New York.

Trevathan WR,  Smith EO, McKenna JJ.  1999.  Evolutionary Medicine.  Oxford, New York.



            The laboratory portion of this course is designed to be a hands-on complement to the material we will be covering in lecture.  Logistic constraints prevent perfect synchrony between lecture and laboratory portions of the course.


Lab Reports:  For the Population Genetics lab, you will work in your lab group, but each member will independently write up a lab report (specific instructions to be provided later).  At the following week's lab meeting, all lab reports will be submitted (anonymously) for peer review in a process I call the "read-around".  In the read-around, each lab group sits together at a table.  Each student reads through and writes comments on the lab reports produced by each of the students in another lab group within their lab section.  Each student is to note the strengths and weaknesses of each lab report they review.  The purpose of this exercise is to give each student the knowledge and tools to write a good scientific paper.  Everyone will benefit from the expertise of the best writers and learn from the mistakes of the less experienced.  Socialism?  Not quite.  Once you get your own lab report back, I want each lab group to get together and produce a single final version to turn in.  Each group member will also turn in their marked-up original.  Let me emphasize that your initial submission is not to be a "rough draft".  Your personal version will be worth 30 points and the group version will be worth 30 points (for all participants).  For the Plant Defenses lab report, everyone will submit their own lab report (worth 60 points).


Pig Dissection:  Every student will get their own pig to dissect.  You may use departmental dissection equipment, borrow some from a Bio 112 alum, or purchase your own kit at the student store (probably not necessary).  It would be wise to consult text chapters 50, 49, and 43 while we are working on our pigs.


Week of


Aug 22

Fish Art, Mating Game

Aug 29

Populus: Selection and Drift

Sept 5 

Population Genetics -- data collection

Sept 12

PG  data analysis, oral presentations

Sept 19

PG  read-around; Intro to Plant Defenses lab

Sept 26

PD bioassay (final PG report due 28, 29 Sept)

Oct 3

PD data analysis

Oct 10

PD oral presentations, Phish Physiology – plan experiment

Oct 17

PP data collection, analysis

Oct 24

PP oral presentations, Fetal Pig – external, digestive (PD report due 26, 27 Oct)

Oct 31

Fetal Pig – respiratory, circulatory

Nov 7 

Fetal Pig - circulatory, urogenital

Nov 14

Fetal Pig – review session Monday night, practical Tuesday night (15 Nov)

Nov 21

No lab - Thanksgiving

Nov 28



Bio Lunch!

Every Friday the Biology Faculty and interested Biology students have lunch at the commons (from 12:30 – 2:00).  You don’t have to be a major to join us!


Return to Dr. Stanback's Home Page