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LSM4263 will introduce students to field biology, conservation issues, the basic techniques involved, sampling design and basic data gathering and data management. From field practicals, students will experience and encounter tropical environs and habitats, namely coastal, mangrove, primary and secondary forest. A 7 day field course is incorporated and will be conducted in Pulau Tioman, Malaysia. There students, who will be divided into small groups, will conduct either 4 mini-projects in 4 separate habitats or 1 major project in a chosen habitat, under the supervision of experienced field-orientated teaching assistants. This module will involve overseas exchange students as well as NUS Life Science students.
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of Evolution. This bold statement by the Russian population geneticist T. Dobzhansky emphasizes the importance of evolution as the only unifying concept in biology. Yet, the theory of evolution is more controversial and opposed by more forces in society than any other theory in science. The module will revisit many of these objections and reveal that they are based on reasoning that is incompatible with the principles of science. We will investigate, why it is “Neo-Darwinism” and not “Intelligent Design” that is currently the best supported paradigm for explaining “adaptation.” We will then challenge the power of the neo-Darwinian paradigm by asking how seemingly incompatible phenomena like altruism and excessive male ornamentation can possibly be explained by natural selection. We will also study several key events in evolution such as the origin of sex and its numerous consequences and the origin of the human species. We will conclude with discussing the importance of the theory of evolution for understanding cultural evolution (“memes”) and human health and senescence (“Darwinian medicine”).