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This free course, An introduction to biological systematics, is concerned with macroevolution the patterns and processes of evolution above the species level. A crucial consideration in macroevolutionary studies is that of the evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) of the organisms in question. The course begins with an introduction to the scope of macroevolutionary studies and illustrates methods of reconstructing phylogeny, from both morphological and molecular data.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand the patterns and processes of evolution above the species level
- appreciate the differences between the three methods of phylogenetic analysis: evolutionary systematics, phenetics, cladistics.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Systematics and the reconstruction of phylogeny
- 2 A first approach to systematics
- 2.1 Introduction
- 2.2 Darwin, Linnaeus and Simpson
- 2.3 What does relationship mean in systematics? G.G. Simpson
- 2.4 What does relationship mean in systematics? E. Mayr
- 2.5 What does relationship mean in systematics? W. Hennig
- 2.6 Three schools of classification
- 2.7 Inferring relationships of common ancestry
- 2.8 Systematic hierarchy
- 2.9 Conflicting morphological characters
- 2.10 Chimps, gorillas and humans
- 2.11 Consequences of human / chimp pairing
- 2.12 Translating a cladogram into a classification
- 2.13 Systematics and biogeography
- 2.14 Summing up
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
An introduction to biological systematics
This course is concerned with macroevolution the patterns and processes of evolution above the species level.
A crucial consideration in macroevolutionary studies is that of the evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) of the organisms in question. The course begins with an introduction to the scope of macroevolutionary studies and illustrates methods of reconstructing phylogeny, from both morphological and molecular data.
It is important to appreciate the differences between the three methods of phylogenetic analysis that are described, namely
A further illustration of these concepts is provided by a sequence of audio clips featuring the late Dr. Colin Patterson, which will give you a second chance to familiarise yourself with the concepts involved.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Natural History courses or view the range of currently available OU Natural History courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 24th March 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 24th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
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