Animal biology and systematics

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The objectives of the teaching are to provide basic knowledge on animal organisms related to functional biology, evolutionary biology, biodiversity, systematics and phylogeny. In particular, the teaching aims to provide students with appropriate competences and notions related to unitarity and complexity of animal life, structural and functional adaptations correlated to different environments, evolutionary history and phylogenetic relationships among animal groups, as well as to zoological terminology. Finally, a further educational goal is to provide methodological skills related to identification of taxa, sampling and collection techniques, comparative analysis of macro- and microscopic anatomy and employment of specific instruments.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the teaching the student should have acquired an appropriate basic knowledge of animal organisms and be able to employ the related terminology and to use specific methodological skills (identification of animal taxa, sampling and collection techniques, comparative analysis of macro and microscopic anatomy). In particular, the activities that will define the development of these skills are represented by the extensive employment of real life documents presented during lectures and more specifically by practical labs that will allow the student to also acquire an indispensable manual skill for progressing in his university and professional career.
Course syllabus and organization

A - L

Lesson period
First semester
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 64 hours

M - Z

Lesson period
First semester
Teaching methods
Lectures will be provided in synchronous mode on Microsoft Teams platform according to the first semester timetable. Lectures will be recorded and available for the students in asynchronous mode on the same platform. Power point presentations will be also available on the dedicated Ariel site.

Course syllabus and Teaching Resources
The contents and reference material will not change.

Assessment methods and Criteria
The evaluation criteria include: the degree of acquired knowledge (the student should be able to describe the different animal structures and functions and the relationship with the environment), the ability to appropriately present the topics, the use of a correct terminology.
Final evaluation will consist of an oral exam performed on-line by employing the Microsoft Teams platform. Exams in presence will be held only when permitted by regulation.
During the colloquium the student is required to briefly present and discuss two topics, the first being referred to general zoology, the second to systematics, each weighing 50% of the final evaluation. The student skills are evaluated in terms of overall knowledge of general and systematic zoology, ability to cross-connect the different topics, and finally presentation clarity and employment of appropriate terminology.
Alternatively, and only in case of in presence exams, a mixed examination modality is offered to the students, consisting of a written test (with multiple choice questions and open questions), followed by a final interview aimed to verify the written test contents by integrating them with further appropriate questions.
Course syllabus
General bases and fundamental principles of animal life: heterotrophy and motility.
Architecture of the animal body: Bauplan, symmetry, body cavity (origin and functions); modularity of body and organs, metamerism. Solitary and colonial organisms; life styles.
Functional biology: structural and functional correlations; adaptations; nutrition (feeding strategy and mechanisms); circulation and gas exchanges; homeostasis: excretion, osmoregulation, thermoregulation; support and movement: basic principles of locomotion; neural and endocrine coordination, hormones and pheromones; sensory receptors; principles of animal behaviour.
Gamic and agamic reproduction, sex and its biological significance; hermaphroditism and gonocorism; life cycles; parthenogenesis; embryonic development (early stages); post-embryonic development (direct and indirect); larvae and metamorphosis.
Omology versus analogy, radiation, convergence; concept of species; interspecific interactions (symbiosis and parasitism).
Approach to animal phylogeny: significance and importance of systematics; need of a natural classification; systematics, phylogeny and evolution; monophyletism and polyphyletism; principles and methods of systematics: cladistic, evolutionary, phenetic classification; taxonomy and molecular phylogeny.
Animal biodiversity: organization, distinctive features and phylogenetic relationships among the main animal groups, with particular reference to invertebrates:
Protozoans; evolution of pluricellularity and early methazoans; poriferans; cnidarians; ctenophores; acelomates: platyhelminthes; nemerteans; pseudocelomates; celomates; protostomes: molluscs; annelids; arthropods; lophophorates; lophotrocozoans and ecdysozoans; deuterostomes: echinoderms, chordates; vertebrates.
A comprehensive account of the significant diversity of structural and functional aspects of the main phyla is given in relation to their phylogeny and discussed in the light of modern theories of evolutionary biology.

Practical labs: The frontal lectures are complemented by a series of practical labs focused on the analysis of functional anatomy of some representative models of the main phyla. They consist of: microscopical observations of specimens, in vivo observations, dissections of model-animals. The practical labs are concluded by a guided tour at the Museum of Natural History of Milano which offers occasion for a deeper discussion on selected topics.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of general biology, cytology and histology are warmly recommended.
Teaching methods
Teaching modalities are based on frontal lectures supported by Power Point presentations originally produced by the teacher. Students are invited to actively participate with informal questions and/or comments related to the treated topics in order to acquire critical capacities. Course attendance is highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Hickman CP Jr., Roberts LS, Keen SL, Larson A, Eisenhour DJ. Zoologia, McGrawHill, 2016
Storch V e Welsch U, Biologia e sistematica animale, Antonio Delfino Editore, Roma, 2008
Slides and Presentations employed by the teacher: they are updated every year and totally provided to the students on ARIEL site
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral examination is the recommended modality. During the colloquium the student is required to briefly present and discuss two topics, one of general zoology and another of systematics, each weighing 50% on the final evaluation. The student skills are evaluated in terms of overall knowledge of zoology, cross-connections between the different topics, discussion capabilities and presentation clarity.
Alternatively, the student can choose a mixed examination modality, consisting of a written test, with multiple choice questions and open questions, followed by a final colloquium aimed to verify the written test contents by integrating them with further appropriate questions.
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 64 hours