Biology and Diversity of Life

General Course Information

Course Lecturer Name(s): René De Riggs

Course Director Name:  René De Riggs

Course Lecturer(s) Contact Information: 473-439-2000 ext. 3257,

Course Director Contact Information: Same as above

Course Lecturer(s) Office Hours: TBD

Course Director Office Hours: Same as above

Course Lecturer(s) Office Location: Aquatic Animal Medicine Research Laboratory (1st floor)  

Course Director Office Location: Same as above

Course Support:
Anna Neckles-Thomas,, Ext. 3435

Akima Ventour,, Ext. 3402

Course Management tool: To learn to use Sakai, the Course management tool, access the link

Course Curriculum Information

Course Description:

This course is an introductory general biology course for non-science and new science majors. As such, one of the primary goals of the course is to introduce students to the principles and general concepts of biology. Students will be introduced to some of the methods by which scientists gather information about the living world. Lectures emphasize the science of systematics, taxonomy, classification, nomenclature, genetics, evolution, ecology, and, the role of biodiversity in sustainability and conservation of biodiversity.

Course Objectives:

  1. Examine the principles in biology with emphasis on the scientific method, basic cell biology, and introductory level genetics and later applying it to the key concepts of evolution and biological diversity and conservation.
  2. Describe and integrate basic information related to the significance of mutations, the concept of natural selection and knowledge of the relationship between systematics and evolutionary biology and consider how convergent evolution and historical biogeography has led to patterns in biodiversity that we see today.
  3. Discuss how population ecology, the processes of speciation and extinction, how selection and historical processes have led to patterns seen on earth today and describe the ongoing threats to biodiversity and offer solutions

Student Learning Outcomes:

Please see “Course and Session Learning Outcomes document in the Resources folder".

Program Outcomes Met By This Course:

Biology Program Outcomes Met By This Course:

BIOL – PLO2 Apply knowledge of the basic structures and fundamental processes of life at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels.

BIOL – PLO5 Demonstrate effective communication of scientific knowledge.

BIOL – PLO6 Demonstrate problem solving and critical thinking skills 

Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Program Outcomes Met By This Course:

MWC – PLO1 KNOWLEDGE: Apply knowledge of the biological and physical components of life, and use this knowledge to understand the interrelationships of organisms with each other and their physical environments

MWC – PLO2 APPLICABILITY: Analyze key global ecological and conservation issues to promote long-term species viability and health of marine and terrestrial environments, with an emphasis on the Caribbean.

 MWC – PLO4 COMMUNICATION & CRITICAL THINKING: Use relevant scientific literature and demonstrate independent, critical thinking while communicating scientific knowledge effectively in different media.

SAS Grading Scale: Grades will be assigned as follows:

A  = 89.5% or better

B+ = 84.5 - 89.4%

B  = 79.5 - 84.4%

C+ = 74.5 - 79.4%

C = 69.5 - 74.4%

D = 64.5 - 69.4%

F = 64.4% or less 

Course Materials:

Text: Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2008). Life on Earth; Fifth edition. San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings.

Electronic Text: Audesirk, G., Audesirk, T. & Byers, B E. (2016). Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology, Global Edition. Pearson Education Limited

Supplementary Readings/Resources: Will be assigned

Course Grading Requirement:             

3 Quizzes: 75%

1 Written Assessment: 15%

Field Trip: 10%

Course Requirements:

Quizzes: This course consists of three (3) quizzes (each quiz is worth 25 point % each). Quiz questions will come from the assigned reading material and class lectures. Quizzes are done using ExamSoft. Note: Exams may consist of multiple choice, true or false, short answer, matching, and fill-in-the-blank questions.

Written Assessment: Students will write a five (5) page case study research paper on a topic within biodiversity, conservation, and climate change. Detailed instructions will be distributed on March 4th, 2022. Papers will cite course materials as well as non-course credible sources. A rubric will also be provided for guidance. Students will hand in papers through TURNITIN on SAKAI. Due date is included in the tentative schedule.

Field Trip: - Dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic situation, students are expected go on a traditional field trip or undergo an alternative field trip experience and produce a report. More details will be provided in due course.

Course Schedule:



BIOL 215: 2022 Spring Lecture Schedule Note: Schedule is subject to change



T: Lecture 1


Th: Lecture 2




Welcome, Intros, Course Syllabus Review


Biology & the Scientific Method (Chapter 1)




Introduction to Cells (Chapter 4)


Cell Division: Mitosis (Chapter 8)




Video Demonstration: Modeling Mitosis


Cell Division: Meiosis




Video Demonstration: Modeling Meiosis


QUIZ 1: Chapters 1, 4, 8




Patterns of Inheritance- Part 1 (Chapter 9)


Patterns of Inheritance - Part 2 (Chapter 9)




Patterns of Inheritance Practice Activity


DNA-Heredity- Part 1 (Chapter 10)




DNA-Heredity-Part 2 (Chapter 10)






Midterm Week (Note: No Midterm Examination for BIOL215)




Gene Expression & Regulation (Chapter 11)


Fun Interactive Tutorials: Genes to Proteins




Introduction to Evolution: Principles & How Populations Evolve (Chapter 13 & 14)


Film: Adaptations and Evolution  




QUIZ 2: Chapters 9, 10, 11, 13,14


Diversity of Life (Chapter 16)




Population Growth and Ecology (Chapter 27)


Film: Overpopulation  







Ecological Community Interactions (Chapter 28)
















Climate Influence on the Earth’s Diverse

Ecosystems (Chapter 30)



Conserving Earth's Biodiversity and Sustainability

(Chapter 31)




Case Study Research Paper Due!


QUIZ 3: Chapters 16, 27, 28, 30, 31




Finals Week (Note: No Final Examination for BIOL215)

School of Arts and Sciences Master Syllabi — Info for All Sections

Plagiarism Policy

Academic Integrity

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Plagiarism is regarded as a cardinal offense in academia because it constitutes theft of the work of someone else, which is then purported as the original work of the plagiarist. Plagiarism draws into disrepute the credibility of the Institution, its faculty, and students; therefore, it is not tolerated” (p. 48).

Plagiarism also includes the unintentional copying or false accreditation of work, so double check your assignments BEFORE you hand them in.

Be sure to do good, honest work, credit your sources and reference accordingly and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. Plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with very seriously following the university’s policies on Plagiarism as outlined in the Student Manual.

Your work may be subject to submission to plagiarism detection software, submission to this system means that your work automatically becomes part of that database and can be compared with the work of your classmates.

Attendance Requirement

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Students are expected to attend all classes and or clinical rotations for which they have registered. Although attendance may not be recorded at every academic activity, attendance may be taken randomly. Students’ absence may adversely affect their academic status as specified in the grading policy. If absence from individual classes, examinations, and activities, or from the University itself is anticipated, or occurs spontaneously due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, proper notification procedures must be followed. A particular course may define additional policies regarding specific attendance or participation” (p. 9).

Examination Attendance

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

All matriculated students are expected to attend all assigned academic activities for each course currently registered. Medical excuses will be based on self-reporting by students. Students who feel they are too sick to take an examination or other required activity on a specific day must submit the online SAS medical excuse, which is available on Carenage. Students are only allowed two such excuses a year. Upon consultation with the Director of University Health Service, the third excuse will result in a mandatory medical leave of absence. The policies regarding make-up examinations are at the option of the Course Director” (p.46).

For additional specific examination policies and procedures, refer to the St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020), pages 31 through 37.

Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services Policy

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

A student with a disability or disabling condition that affects one or more major life activities, who would like to request an accommodation, must submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to the Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) located in the Dean of Students Office. It is highly recommended that students applying for accommodations do so at least one month before classes begin to allow for a more efficient and timely consideration of the request. If a fully completed application is not submitted in a timely fashion, an eligibility determination may not be made, and accommodations, where applicable, may not be granted prior to the commencement of classes and/or examinations” (p. 8).


It is the responsibility of the student to read and understand the policies, laws, rules and procedures that while they could affect your grade for a course, have not been specifically outlined in the course syllabus. These are contained in the St. George’s University Student Manual.