Learning outcomes of the course unit
This is the first Module of the Course of ZOOLOGY and it is aimed to provide the basic concepts of animal biology with particular enphasis to the evolutionary approach. An important part of the course will be devoted to a comparative analysis of to the form and the main functional aspects of animals belonging to the main Phyla.
Course contents summary
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF ANIMAL BIOLOGY. The study of Life. The unifying themes of Life Sciences. Zoology as a part of Biology. Zoology as a scientific process.
THE CHEMISTRY OF LIFE: General principles. The water. Organic compounds. Carbohydrates. Lipids. Proteins. Enzymes. Nucleic Acids.
THE ORIGIN OF LIFE: The pre-biotic world. From the molecules to the organisms. The emergence of eukaryotes. The origin and evolution of animals.
THE CELL: The concept of cell. The cellular organization. The prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell. Properties and features of animal cell. Structure and function of nucleus and cytoplasmatic organelles. Biological membranes. Metabolism of the cell. The cellular cycle. Cellular division. Mitosis. Meiosis and gametogenesis. Sexual life cycles.
INFORMATION AND HEREDITY (Basic concepts): Chromosomic bases of heredity. Molecular bases of heredity. DNA as the seat of genetic information. DNA duplication. The long way from genotype to phenotype, the first step: the synthesis of polypeptides.
THE FORM AND THE FUNCTION IN ANIMALS. A) The architecture of animal body: Hierarchical organization of animal complexity. Structural models of the body. Symmetry. Body cavities. Metamery. Cephalisation. Homology and Analogy. B) How the animal machinery works: An introduction to the basic processes of maintenance and homeostasis. Nutrition. Circulation and gas exchange. Regulation of the internal environment. Neuro-sensory and movement mechanisms.
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT: Asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction. Conjugation in Ciliates. Evolution of sexuality. Fertilization. Amphigony and Parthenogenesis . Primary and secondary sexual characters. Sexual dimorphism. Gonochorism and hermaphroditism. Sexual selection. Reproductive strategies. Monogamy and Polygamy. Parental cares. Metagenesis, Neoteny, Heterogony. Embryonic and post-embryonic development. Metamorphosis.
EVOLUTION: The idea of evolution: Historical background. The theory of Darwin and evidences supporting it. Forces of evolution. Microevolution. Speciation and mechanism of reproductive isolation. Macroevolution.
INTERACTIONS AMONG ORGANISMS.
Symbioses: Mutualism, Commensalism, Parasitism. Social Parasitism. Mimicry. Cryptic and Faneric mimicry. Warning colours. Batesian Mimicry, Muellerian Mimicry, Mertensian Mimicry. Aggressive Mimicry. Intraspecific Mimicry
BASIC CONCEPTS OF ANIMAL CLASSIFICATION AND NOMENCLATURE
BIOLOGIA di Campbell, Reece et al. (2009, Pearson Paravia Bruno Mondadori)
Vol. 1: La chimica della vita e la cellula
Vol. 3: Meccanismi dell'evoluzione ed origini della diversità
Vol. 4: La forma e la funzione negli animali
BIOLOGIA (Single Volume) - Campbell, Reece et al.
(2009, Pearson Paravia Bruno Mondadori)
TEACHING: Lectures made using also multimedia tools.
EVALUATION: oral examination aimed to verify the capacity of the student to tackle zoological problems using the methodological principles and knowledge acquired during the course.