New Course 2017W – FRST 432 Molecular Ecology


FRST 432 Molecular Ecology

MWF 4-5 pm Forest Sciences Center, room 1003

Instructor: Kermit Ritland, FSC 3026,

Molecular ecology involves the use of molecular genetic tools to investigate ecological processes in natural populations, and usually involves DNA.  This class was not offered last year (hence this notice).  Compared to previous years, the range of topics is greater and new learning approaches have been adopted.   Introductory genetics (FRST302, BIOL234) is recommended but not required.

Lectures or other presentations will occur on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Fridays will be a combination of problem based learning, flipped classroom and discussions (and the midterm).  Grading will be: midterm (20%), final (40%), presentation or project (20%), assignments (20%).  The readings are selected both to illustrate basic principles, and to raise current issues.  Additional material will also be supplied.  One week per topic unless otherwise noted.

Sequence of topics:

DNA in the wild

Environmental DNA for wildlife biology and biodiversity monitoring (Bohmann et al. Trends Ecol. Evol. 29: 358-367, 2014) Genotype-by-sequencing in ecological and conservation genomics (Narum et al. Mol. Ecol. 22: 2481-2847, 2013)

Genetic variability

Senior Lecture, Annual Short Course on Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics, Bar Harbor, Maine, 1968 (Lewontin, Int. J. Epidemiology 45: 654-664, 2016)

Microbiomes and genomes

Genome sequencing and population genomics in non-model organisms (Trends in Ecol. Evol. 29: 51-63, 2014) Germs are us (The New Yorker, Oct. 2012)

Phylogeography (2 weeks)

Statistical phylogeography (Knowles and Maddison, Mol. Ecol. 11:2623-2635, 2002) Detecting hybridization using ancient DNA (Schaefer et al., Mol. Ecol. 25: 2398-2412, 2016)

Conservation genetics (2 weeks)

Understanding inbreeding depression, purging and genetic rescue (Hedrick and Garcia-Dorado, Trends in Ecol. Evol. 31:940-952, 2016) The ethics of reviving long extinct species (Sandler, Cons. Biol. 28: 354-360, 2014)

Adaptive variation (2 weeks)

The past, present and future of genomic scans for selection (Jensen et al. Mol. Ecol. 25: 1-4, 2016) Ecological genomics of local adaptation (Savolainen et al. Nat. Rev. Gen. 14: 807-820, 2013)


Epigenetics in ecology and evolution: what we know and know and what we need to know (Verhoeven et al. Mol. Ecol. 25: 1631-1638, 2016)

Mating systems and behavior

Measuring plant mating systems (Clegg, Biosciences 12:814-818, 1980).

Plant mating systems in a changing world (Eckert et al. Trends Ecol. Evol. 25: 35-43, 2009).

Trophic interactions

Molecular analysis of predation: a review of best practice for DNA-based approaches (King, Read and Traugott, Mol. Ecol. 17:947-963, 2008)

Genetically modified organisms

Unraveling the DNA myth: the spurious foundation of genetic engineering (Harpers, Feb. 2002)

Please direct any additional inquiries to Kermit Ritland.

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