Morphological Systematics (BiSc 216)
Number of Credits: 4
Level of instruction: graduate
Principles and methods of phylogenetic analysis of organismal
morphology, expanding upon the introduction provided by BiSc 210 (Phylogenetic
Systematics). The course is organized around the concept of homology, and the
testing of homology provided by phylogenetic analysis. The first part of the course
surveys methods and issues in the identification and description of features
(characters) that differ among taxa, including quantitative (morphometric)
methods. The second part covers theoretical issues concerning developmental
change, allometry, the fossil record, and the integration of morphological and
molecular data. Laboratories will examine methods of observing, measuring, and
imaging morphology, and morphometric methods of comparing shapes.
How often is the course offered: Spring Semester every year.
What is the average enrollment: 9 students.
How broad a student audience is served by the course: We anticipate an enrollment of
graduate students from GWU (Departments of Biology, Geology and Anthropology) and Howard
University (Anatomy Department).
PART I HOMOLOGY AND CHARACTERS Aristotle, the scala naturae, and Geoffroy's principe des connexions
1) Historical foundations of homology
2) What is "similarity"?
Remane's criteria; topological correspondence
3) Homology and synapomorphy
Transformation and taxic approaches
4) Characters, character states, and character state trees
Recognizing nested similarity
5) Ordering character states
Recognizing degrees and levels of similarity
6) Character state independence
Character complexes, character correlation
7) Quantitative tests of character state distinctness
When are character states different?
8) Iterative homology - serial "homology" and duplicated elements
9) Functional morphology, behavior, and phylogenetics
Morphology in motion
PART II ROOTING, POLARITY, AND ONTOGENY
10) Rooting and polarity
Determining the level of generality of homologies
11) Historical foundations of ontogeny and phylogeny
Von Baer, Haeckel, and the biogenetic law
12) Ontogenetic rooting
Using ontogeny to polarize characters
13) Ontogenetic "versus" outgroup rooting
Empirical comparisons of ontogenetic polarization
14) Developmental processes and phylogeny
Studying the evolution of ontogeny
PART III THE FOSSIL RECORD
15) The nature of the stratigraphic record
Telling time with rocks; stratigraphic ranges
16) Fossils and "total evidence"
The importance of fossils in phylogenetic analysis; combining or
17) Missing data and transformed data
The effects of unknown data on phylogenetic analysis
18) Cladograms and stratigraphy I
What, if anything, is an ancestor?
19) Cladograms and stratigraphy II
Ghost lineages and ghost taxa
20) Cladograms and stratigraphy III
Quantitative comparisons of cladograms and stratigraphy
21) Inference of soft structures and behavior in fossils
PART IV MORPHOMETRICS
22) Morphometrics and homology
Introduction to quantitative measurement of similarity
23) Accounting for size differences in comparative biology
Evaluating similarities among organisms of different sizes - what is size?
24) Bivariate analyses
The allometric equation
25) Principal Components and Factor Analyses
Variances and covariances
26) Discriminant Function Analysis
27) Outline data
28) Landmark data I
29) Landmark data II
Thin plate splines