Learning outcomes of the course unit
Animal Biology is taught as a module within the course of Animal and Plant Biology. The major learning objectives include knowledge and understanding of basic biology, genetics, taxonomy and the fundamentals of animal behaviour and ecology, with the aim to allow the student to use this knowledge for a better understanding of the morphology and function of invertebrates and vertebrates.
Knowledge provided for the entrance examination Recovery of educational debt
Course contents summary
The first part of the course concerns basic principles of the origin of life on Earth and evolution theory, with special emphasis on the chemical and physical phenomena that led up to these events.
The second part of the course is dedicated to the taxonomy and classification of the major life groups.
The third part of the course deals with he basic principles of animal behaviour and ecology.
The origin of life on Earth.
The life: biological principles and science of zoology. The evolution of the cell. From molecules to the first cell.
The cell and continuity an of animal life.
From molecules to the first cell. From Procaryotes to Eucaryotes. From single cell to multicellular organism.
The evolution of life on Earth.
The history and development of evolutionary theory. The origin of species. The patterns of inheritance.
Diversity of animal life.
Architectural pattern of an animal. Classification and phylogeny of animals.
Co-evolution host-parasites. Adaptations to parasite life.
Molluscs. Arthropodes. Chordates: Fishes. Birds. Mammals.
Basic taxonomy. Invertebrate/Vertebrate structure and function of those species of primary veterinary medical interest.
Some principles of homeostasis. Internal fluids and respiration. Circulation. Excretion and thermoregulation.
Functional organization of animals.
Protection. Support and movement.
Overview of form an function of systems.
Digestive system. Nervous system. Reproductive system. Sensory system. (These topics are explored from an evolutionary point of view).
Animals and their environments.
Animal distribution and growth. Dynamics of ecosystems. Population ecology. Conservation biology.
Basic element of animal behaviour.
The study of animal behaviour and its applications in veterinary medicine.
Learning and instinct.
Reflexes. Modal action patterns. Associative learning. Classical conditioning. Instrumental conditioning.
Behavioural genetics, evolution and domestication.
Evolution of behaviour. The function of behaviour. Behavioural effects of domestication.
Social and reproductive behaviour.
Communication. Living in groups. Sexual interaction. Play Human and animal interactions.
Behavioural disturbances, stress and welfare.
Normal and abnormal behaviour. Stereotypies. Abnormal aggression. Stress. Assessing welfare. Behavioural indicators of welfare.
The history of animal behaviour studies.
The schools of the 20th century. Modern approaches to ethology. Applied ethology. Species-specific behaviour of some important domestic animals. (Images gallery. Video interview. Seminars. Population genetics test).
Cleveland P., Hickman JR. et al. Diversità animale. McGraw-Hill, 2012, Web site.
Cleveland P., Hickman JR. et al. Fondamenti di zoologia. McGraw-Hill, 2012, Web site.
Mainardi D. L'Etologia caso per caso. Airplane, 2002.
K. Lorenz - Scienziato e guru della natura - LE SCIENZE, 1999.
P. Jensen - ETOLOGIA DEGLI ANIMALI DOMESTICI - Ed. italiana a cura di P.G. Bracchi, F. Grasselli e G. Zannetti - McGraw-Hill Ed., 2010.
Lessons are taught with the help thematic videos and several video clips in graphic motion that allow a clear illustration of the construction of phylogenetic trees, showing evolution of the various animal species. Video graphics are also used to simulate statistical tests that utilize databases.
Assessment methods and criteria
There is an oral examination at the end of the module that is aimed at verifying the success of each student in achieving the learning objectives. The three questions that make up the exam are chosen at random by the computer. Each question requires a rational and well-developed answer, and the need to connect the various principles and theories taught during the course. In this way it is possible to ascertain the degree of knowledge and understanding of all course objectives.
At the end of the course, the student must be able to use acquired knowledge and show clear understanding of the following:
- the mechanisms involved in the evolution of life on Earth;
- genetic principles responsible for the variety of animal life;
- taxonomic basis for the classification of animal species;
- basic elements of animal behaviour and ecology, aimed at allowing the student to critically evaluate animal welfare and well-being.