Biology | Vascular Plants
B300 | 5244 | Knox, E
Course Format: Lecture: 11:15-12:05 MW, Myers Hall 130, plus one
laboratory session per week on M or T in Jordan Hall 243.
Requirements: An introductory biology course.
Course Description: This is a remarkably well organized and
informative course with excellent and caring AIs. Vascular plants
are commonly known as the "higher plants" and are the dominant
plants in the world today, those that we constantly see around us in
the natural world and those that we cultivate and use for
landscaping, house plants, and food. Course focuses on the major
groups of extant vascular plants and studies in detail and from an
evolutionary perspective the morphologies, life cycles,
identification, classification, and economic importance of these
groups. Laboratory sessions and one spring field trip provide hands-
on experience in analyzing plant structures, using identification
keys, preparing and working with herbarium specimens, and
reconstructing phylogenetic relationships among plant groups with
and without computer assistance. In a semester-long lab project,
the life cycle of a fern is examined from the sowing of spores to
fertilization in gametophytes and the early development of
sporophytes. The course progresses from groups most like the
earliest evolved land plants to the most recently evolved major
group, the angiosperms (flowering plants) that dominate most of the
earth's land surface today. The first half of the course deals with
the earliest evolving extant vascular plants (the whisk ferns, club
mosses, spike mosses, quillworts, horsetails, and ferns), concluding
with the more primitive lineages of seed-producing plants (the
gymnosperms such as the cycads, ginkgo, and pines). The second half
of the course is devoted to the flowering plants, with lectures
covering their reproductive biology (flower types, fruit types, life
cycle, etc.) and other shared characteristics as well as the
taxonomy, identification, economic importance, and other features of
some of their most important and commonly encountered families.
Required text: “Plant Systematics” by M.G. Simpson; “Guns, Germs,
and Steel” by J. Diamond; “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by
B. Bryson. The prepared Lecture Notes and the Laboratory Manual
designed for this course are published locally and will be available
at the campus bookstores.
Weekly assignments: Read relevant pages from the text and study
Lecture Notes. Occasional web exercises.
Exams/Papers: Unannounced quizzes given frequently, with lowest
quiz score dropped; three lecture exams; three laboratory practical
exams; all exams count.