Fall 2021 - BISC 316 D100

Vertebrate Biology (4)

Class Number: 1606

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM
    SSCB 9200, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 9, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    WMC 3260, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    BISC 101 and 102 with a grade of C- or better.



A review of the evolution and the taxonomy of the vertebrate classes. A comparative study of their organ systems and functions with particular reference to reproduction. A comparison of the functional morphology of some species by laboratory dissections.


The lecture portion of the course introduces students to important groups of both living and extinct vertebrates. We’ll focus on their defining characteristics and interesting adaptations. Additionally, we examine the novel features (e.g., jaws) and transitions (e.g., tetrapod transition from ocean to land) that have contributed to the diversification of vertebrates.

In labs, we focus on the comparative anatomy of vertebrate groups. We dissect select groups (sharks, fish, mudpuppy, turtle, pigeon, rabbit) and examine museum specimens to see how similarities and differences reflect their shared evolutionary history and unique environments.


  • Aquarium Assignment: 10%
  • Lab Midterm: 15%
  • Lecture Midterm: 20%
  • Lab Final: 20%
  • Lecture Final 35%


Mode of teaching:

Lectures, labs, and exams will all be on-campus and in-person.




Pough and Janis (2019) Vertebrate Life (10th edition), Pearson Publishing.
Notes: You can probably get by with an earlier edition, but the 10th ed is really much better than the 9th. This text is also available for short term loan through Library Reserves.


Dissection Guide(recommended): De Iuliis and Pulera (2019). The Dissection of Vertebrates: A Laboratory Manual (3rd edition), Academic Press.
Notes: We’ll use this (especially the very good figures) for lab. The library provides unlimited access to the 1st edition, which is very similar to the 3rd edition and is OK to use. I’ll provide reading lists for the 1st edition to make it easy for students who choose to use the library access instead of buying their own copy.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.