Fall 2022 - BISC 440W D100

Biodiversity (3)

Class Number: 5088

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 7 – Dec 6, 2022: Mon, Wed, 12:30–1:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    BISC 300, STAT 201 or equivalent, both with C or better, plus 75 units.



The production and organization of biodiversity (investigations of species, and an in-depth look at taxonomy, systematics and phylogenetics). Evolutionary and ecological theories behind the patterns of biodiversity (the current and future geographic distribution of species, and how biodiversity is related to ecosystem function). The values society gives biodiversity (how our values are reflected in law and regulation). Students with credit for BISC 440 may not repeat this course for further credit. Writing.


Biodiversity is grist for many mills. We will explore topics in four broad areas: the production and organization of biodiversity (species, taxonomy, systematics, phylogenetics); evolutionary and ecological theories behind the patterns of biodiversity (why we think it all is where it is, and where it may be in the future); what’s happening to it now (going away); and the values society gives it (many, most vague).   

We will consider both the technical side of biodiversity studies (molecular phylogenetics, diversification indices) and the rhetorical side (as this is a ‘writing-intensive’ course). This means there will be varied literature to digest and there will be a focus on your scientific writing and verbal expression. Expect to participate in class and to wrangle ‘R’ scripts too.

Our discussions will be based on chapters from the textbook "Origins of Biodiversity" and on the primary literature.  You will be asked to present and critique a primary research paper as part of the course load.


  • Computer Labs 15%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Quizzes 15%
  • Media piece 15%
  • Final exam 40%


Grading is subject to change. 

Labs: (Wednesdays 1330-1630)



Origins of Biodiversity by Lindell Bromham and Marcel Cardillo
ISBN: 9780199608713


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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