Lecture: Advanced-level Evolutionary Biology (Autumn Semester 2023)

Information about the lecture of PD Dr. Lukas Schärer (lukas.scharer-at-unibas.ch, http://evolution.unibas.ch/scharer/index.htm)

Why unicellular or multicellular?


Why such complex genitalia?

Location and Time of the lecture

The 2-hour (2x45 minutes) lecture takes place weekly on Wednesdays from 14:15-16:00 in the small lecture hall (Kleiner Hörsaal) of the Vesalianum (Vesalgasse 1, first floor, enter the main building). The first lecture takes place on Wednesday, 20. September 2023.

Aim of the lecture

The aim of the lecture is to provide an in-depth introduction to the main concepts in evolutionary biology and the most important evolutionary mechanisms. The participants will learn to approach biological problems and phenomena from an evolutionary perspective, and they will read original research articles and discuss these in class.

If you want to attend this lecture you should ideally have previously attended the lecture 'Evolutionsbiologie' of Profs. Ebert & Salzburger.

The following topics will likely be covered

  • levels of selection
  • evolution of individuality
  • evolution of development
  • origins of sexual reproduction
  • maintenance of sexual reproduction
  • genomic conflict and genomic imprinting
  • coevolution
  • sexual selection
  • sexual conflict
  • sex allocation
  • sex in hermaphrodites
  • cultural evolution

Course materials

The Scripts will usually be uploaded here by Tuesday evening before each Wednesday lecture. And the Mandatory Reading is intended to be read after each lecture, to help digest the contents of the lecture. Questions about the Mandatory Reading can be asked and discussed at the start of following week's lecture.

Week Date Lecture (Wednesdays from 14:15-16:00) Script Mandatory Reading Suggested Reading
1 20.9. lecture cancelled      
2 27.9. Brief Introduction to the Course &
Levels of Selection
Levels.pdf Reeve&Keller1999.pdf none
3 4.10. Evolution of Individuality Individuality.pdf fromBuss1987.pdf Buss1987.pdf
4 11.10. Evolution of Development Development.pdf Homework Cardona&al2005.pdf
5 18.10. lecture cancelled      
6 25.10. Origin of Sexual Reproduction Origins.pdf MaynardSmith&Szathmary1995.pdf Hickey&Rose1988.pdf


Maintenance of Sexual Reproduction Maintenance.pdf West&al1999.pdf MaynardSmith&Szathmary1999.pdf
8 8.11. Genomic Conflict Genomic_Conflict.pdf fromBurt&Trivers2006.pdf Haig1996.pdf
9 15.11. Coevolution Coevolution.pdf none Janzen&al2010.pdf
10 22.11. Sexual Selection Sexual_Selection.pdf fromBirkhead2000.pdf
complete Birkhead 2000
11 29.11. Sexual Conflict Sexual_Conflict.pdf Homework Chapman&al2003.pdf
12 6.12. Sex Allocation Sex_Allocation.pdf Queller2006.pdf Munday&al2006.pdf
Fig wasp movie (87.6MB)
13 13.12. Cultural Evolution Cultural_Evolution.pdf none none
14 20.12. Examination      


Some of the lectures make reference to the book "Evolution: an introduction" by Stearns & Hoekstra (Oxford University Press, 2. Edition). Further book chapters and original research articles will be distributed on this page during the semester.


In order to pass the course each student has to pass the examination (attending the lectures themselves is not mandatory). The written examination will be held in the last week of the semester during the normal time of the lecture.