Subject: Evolutionary Biology

Scientific Area:



62 Hours

Number of ECTS:




Overall objectives:

1 - Understand evidence of common ancestry and identify mechanism that count for change through time.
2 - Recognize that evolution causes changes in the composition of populations and to know the source of genetic variation.
3 - Understand how populations behave in the absence of selection (Hardy­-Weinberg, genetic drift).
4 - ­Know the sources of genetic variation and link evolutionary processes, heredity and genetics in shaping populations and species.
5 - Know how to construct and interpret a phylogenetic tree and also identify monophyletic and polyphyletic groups
6 - Know the speciation mechanism.
7 - Ability to solve problems, process and interpret data.
8 - Capacity of analyzing articles of the scientific area.


1 - Introduction and definition of evolutionary and non­evolutionary ideas before Darwin, Darwinian theory, developments after Darwin and natural theory of molecular evolution.
2 - Population Genetics: Hardy-­Weinberg equilibrium and the assumptions (populations size, endogamy, mutations, migrations and selections. Extensions of HWE and applications.
3 - Variations at different level (morphology, chromosomes, proteins).
4 - Molecular evolution. Genome evolution, unequal overcrossing mechanisms and gene conversion. Evolution of genome size.
5 - Phylogenetic reconstruction. Data types: distances versus discrete characters. Alignment of nucleotide and amino acid sequences. Main phylogenetic inference methods. Use of various computer programs, including Mega and PAUP. Phylogenetic inference: Distance and discrete methods. Notion of Molecular Clock. Phylogeography
6 - Speciation, types.


Hartl & Clark , 2007 , Principle Population Genetics (4th edition) , Sinauer Ass. Sunderland, Massachusetts
Futuyma, D.J. , 1998 , Evolutionary Biology (3rd edition) , Sinauer Ass. Sunderland, Massachusetts.
Ridely, M. , 2004 , Evolution (3rd edition) , Blackwell Science Ltd
Futuyma, D.J. , 2013 , Evolution , Sinauer Ass. Sunderland, Massachusetts.
Brandon, R. , 1990 , Adaptation and Environment , Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey.
Brandon, R. , 1996 , Concepts and Methods in Evolutionary Biology. , Cambridge University Press.
Cain, A. , 1993 , Animal Species and Their Evolution. , Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey.
Cockburn, A. , 1991 , An Introduction to Evolutionary Ecology. , Blackwell Scientific Publications. Oxford.
Darwin, C. , Origem das Espécies. , Lello & Irmão Editores. Porto.
Dobzhansky, T.; Ayala, F.; Stebbins, G. & Valentine, J. , 1983 , Evolución , Ediciones Omega, S. A., Barcelona.
Freeman, S. & Herron, J. , 2004 , Evolutionary Analysis. , Pearson Prentice Hall.
Harvey, P. & Pagel, M. , 1991 , The Comparative Method in Evolutionary Biology. , Oxford University Press.
Kimura, M. , 1994 , Population genetics, Molecular Evolution, and The neutral Theory , The University of Chivago Press.
Kutschera, U. , 2013 , Biologia Evolutiva. , Fundação Calouste de Gulbenkian. Lisboa
Mayr, E. , 1970 , Population, Species and Evolution. , The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Miyamoto, M. & Cracraft, J. , 1991 , Phylogenetic Analysis of DNA sequences. , Oxford University Press.
Nei, M. & Kumar, S. , 2000 , Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics. , Oxford University Press
Nowak, M. , 2006 , Evoltionary Dynamics. Exploring the Equations of Life. , The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Pianka, E. , 1988 , Evolutionary Ecology. (4th edition). , HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.. NY.
Ridely, M. , 2003 , Evolution.. , Blackwell Publishing.
Zimmer, C. & Emlen, D. , 2016 , Evolution: Making Sense of Life, (2nd edition) ,

Assesssment methods and criteria:

Classification Type: Quantitativa (0-20)

Evaluation Methodology:
Theoretical classes: predominantly expository classes, where the concepts, principles, theories and methods of Evolutionary Biology are considered, recapitulating and integrating knowledge from other previous Courses, namely Ecology, Genetics, Zoology I, Zoology II, Botany I, Botany II, Embryology and Animal Histology, Biochemistry I, Biochemistry II, Anatomy and Plant Organogenesis. Theoretical-practical classes: These classes will complement the theoretical classes, developing the various topics taught in these classes. Particular cases will be addressed and various texts/articles will be considered and analysed, encouraging discussion and critical reasoning. Exercises will be performed on various aspects of Evolutionary Biology. Evaluation: 2 tests (50% each).