Systematics and Comparative Biology

Biol 615 (Fall) - MWF 9:15-10:15, Museum Classroom

Instructor: Derek S. Sikes
Associate Professor of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6960


Carolus Linnaeus (also Carl von Linné), 1707–1778

Overview This course will introduce students to the field of biosystematics and will include history, theory, and practice of both taxonomy (the original bioinformatics) and modern phylogenetics. The methods covered apply equally to all eukaryotic taxa, based on either morphological or molecular characters. Training in key software packages will take place on Fridays.

Some of the topics and methods covered:

Taxonomy. Species demarcation / concepts, phylogeography, description / diagnosis, naming, rules of nomenclature, DNA barcoding, the "taxonomic bottleneck," digitization of taxonomic data / bioinformatics, homology / characters (alignment 1)

Phylogenetics. History & development, Phenetics, Cladistics, homology of sequences (alignment 2), taxon and character sampling, distance methods, parsimony, maximum likelihood, Bayesian MCMC, model selection, branch support, ancestral state reconstruction, divergence dating, biogeography, fossil data, trouble-shooting.