Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The major Ecology and Evolutionary Biology offers broad education in the biological sciences. The subject matter includes molecules, cells, organs, organisms, ecosystems, and the evolutionary processes that shape them. Students may choose a B.A. or B.S. degree. The B.A. program is intended for those interested in ecology, evolution, and organismal diversity as a part of a liberal education, but who do not intend to pursue graduate work in the discipline. The B.S. program is designed for students planning to attend medical or veterinary school or to pursue graduate study in ecology and evolutionary biology, other biological disciplines, or the environmental sciences.

Prospective majors and other students who would like a thorough introduction to biology should take the introductory sequence BIOL 101–104, which provides a solid foundation in modern biological science. These courses are prerequisite to all majors in the biological sciences; students who take them along with chemistry courses during the freshman year will have more flexible programs in later years. The sequence consists of the following half-term, half-credit courses:

  • BIOL 101, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • BIOL 102, Principles of Cell Biology and Membrane Physiology
  • BIOL 103, Genes and Development
  • BIOL 104, Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The department also offers courses with no college-level prerequisites that are suitable for nonmajors. These include all 100-level offerings, as well as 200-level courses that deal with particular organism groups such as fish, mammals, birds, or insects. Some examples include:

  • E&EB 106, Biology of Malaria, Lyme, and Other Vector-Borne Diseases
  • E&EB 115, Conservation Biology
  • E&EB 125, History of Life
  • E&EB 145, Plants and People
  • E&EB 246, Plant Diversity and Evolution
  • E&EB 250, Biology of Terrestrial Arthropods
  • E&EB 264, Ichthyology
  • E&EB 272, Ornithology

Additional prerequisites for the E&EB major include courses in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Acceleration credit awarded in any of these subjects, or completion of advanced courses in the corresponding departments, may be accepted in place of the prerequisites. Students who already have mathematics preparation equivalent to MATH 115, Calculus of Functions of One Variable II, or higher are encouraged to take a statistics course from STAT 101–106 and/or additional mathematics courses such as MATH 120, Calculus of Functions of Several Variables, MATH 121, Mathematical Models in the Biosciences II: Advanced Techniques, MATH 222, Linear Algebra with Applications, or MATH 225, Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory. Because the required chemistry courses are prerequisite to several E&EB courses, students are strongly urged to take general and organic chemistry in the freshman and sophomore years. Students who place out of general chemistry should take organic chemistry as freshmen.

Beyond the prerequisites, requirements of the E&EB major may be satisfied through either of two tracks. Track 1 emphasizes courses appropriate for ecology, evolutionary biology, and environmental science careers; Track 2 is appropriate for premedical and preveterinary students because it allows them to use as electives many courses required by medical schools.

Freshmen considering a major in E&EB are invited to consult with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS). After the freshman year, prospective majors should choose an adviser from the department faculty who has interests comparable to their own and/or is a fellow of their residential college. For additional information, visit the departmental Web site.