PLANT EVOLUTION AND BIODIVERSITY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The curse is aimed at studying in depth some aspect of Evolutionary Botany, by recalling the main mechanisms of plant evolution (origin, phylogeny, land colonization, seed evolution, etc.). Broad space will be given (with practical examples) to the transposition of general Gouldian concepts (i.e., punctuated equilibria, adaptation in ontogeny and phylogeny, exaptation, etc.) into plant evolution and biodiversity. The course will be ended by some thorough analyses of methods for measuring and evaluating plant biodiversity, with pertinent study in depth on “hot-spots”, as well as on conservation and “weakness points” of biodiversity itself.
Course contents summary
Darwinian evolution and natural selection in the adaptive evolution of plants. Fossil remains, adaptive radiations of Streptophyta, evolutionary trends, mass extinctions. Plant dimensions in the course of evolution. Phylogeny and evolutionary relationships in bryophytes, pteridophytes and spermatophytes. Heterospory and evolutionary advantages of seeds. Estimates of plant biodiversity at the levels of species and ecosystems. Conservation of biodiversity. Notes to agrobiodiversity and to soil biodiversity.
NA Campbell, JB Reece, Mechanisms of evolution and Evolutionary history of biodiversity, Pearson, 2008. JD Mauseth, Botany, Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2009. SJ Gould, The structure of evolutionary theory, Harvard University Press, 2002. SJ Gould, ES Vrba, 1982, Exaptation – a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology 8: 4-15. KJ Willis, JC McElwain, The evolution of plants, Oxford University Press, 2002. SJ Gould, Life’s grandeur, Vintage, 1996.
Classes integrated by practical examples.
Assessment methods and criteria
Written examination, with possible oral/practical integration.