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    An introductory survey of the evolution and diversity of animal life. Essential biological principles are illustrated using examples from New Zealand fauna, issues of environmental, social or economic importance, and cutting-edge research developments at the University of Otago.

    Animals live in a hostile world where they must survive in the face of adverse weather and the presence of predators, find resources for body growth and fuel for their activities, and mate and rear their young, passing on genes to future generations. In overcoming the challenges, animals have developed a diversity of body plans, physiological adaptations and life styles. This introductory course surveys the evolution and diversity of animal life. It explores the unifying relationships between form and function among animals from different environments and how animals interact with each other and with their environment. Essential biological principles are illustrated by examples from the New Zealand fauna. Issues of environmental, social or economic importance and cutting-edge research developments at the University of Otago will be discussed. This course is hands-on, with lecture material complemented by practical classes. This paper is normally a prerequisite for 200-level Zoology papers.

    About this paper

    Paper title Animal Biology
    Subject Biology
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Recommended Preparation
    CELS 191 and (HUBS 191 or PTWY 131)
    Schedule C
    Teaching staff

    Academic Convener: Professor Robert Poulin

    Course Co-ordinator: Dr Keith King

    Course Lecturers:
    Dr Erin Damsteegt
    Dr Sheri Johnson
    Associate Professor Mark Lokman
    Dr Jenny Jandt
    Professor Robert Poulin
    Dr Paul Szyszka
    Dr Keith King

    Paper Structure


    This paper covers seven modules:

    1. Animal Diversity (6 lectures)
    2. Animal Evolution (6 lectures)
    3. Animal Physiology (5 lectures)
    4. Animal Nervous Systems (5 lectures)
    5. Hormones and Reproduction (4 lectures)
    6. Animal Behaviour (5 lectures)
    7. Animal Associations (5 lectures)

    In addition to the lectures, there are question and answer sessions, assessment-related workshops, three guest lectures and an information session.


    There are 6 laboratories (practicals). The laboratory topics are listed below:

    1. Animal Ethics and Diversity
    2. Animal Evolution
    3. Animal Physiology - Dogfish
    4. Animal Physiology - Possum
    5. Animal Behaviour - Beetles
    6. Animal Parasitology and Population Modelling
    Teaching Arrangements

    BIOL 112 is comprised of 37 lectures (including an introductory lecture), seven question and answer sessions, four 1-hour (assessment-related) workshops, four seminars/information sessions and six 3-hour practical laboratories. Attendance at laboratories is compulsory. Two different Learning & Development Modules (LDMs) will be used as assessments. LDM 1, a group project with written and oral components is worth 10% and LDM 2, an individual written assessment is worth 20% of your final grade for BIOL112. More specific information on each LDM and how it is assessed will be given to you during the semester.


    BIOLOGY: A Global Approach - 12th Edition, Campbell et al. 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-292-34163-7).

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will:

    • Appreciate and demonstrate the importance of thinking scientifically
    • Understand the diversity of the animal kingdom from evolutionary, functional and interactive perspectives
    • Describe the biological principles addressed in this paper as they relate to these specific perspectives
    • Identify the role of Zoological research in the discipline as it relates to the specific perspectives and biological processes discussed in this paper
    • Appreciate and demonstrate the practical skills required to work effectively and safely in a biological laboratory
    • Analyse issues logically, bearing in mind all viewpoints, and make informed decisions
    • Appreciate the links between disciplines
    • Develop awareness that current knowledge can be limited, uncertain and contested
    • Be aware of the ethical, cultural, social and economic contexts of native animals and introduced animals in New Zealand
    • Begin to develop intellectual independence and foster a commitment to lifelong learning
    • Appreciate the need to communicate information and arguments effectively using written and oral skills
    • Understand and demonstrate how to work as part of a team
    • Know how to access information about biological issues
    • Develop confidence and competency in the use of numeracy in everyday situations


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 29-35, 37-42
    Tuesday 10:00-10:50 29-35, 37-42
    Thursday 10:00-10:50 29-35, 37-42
    Friday 10:00-10:50 29-35, 37-42


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Monday 14:00-16:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
    A2 Tuesday 14:00-16:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
    A3 Tuesday 18:00-20:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
    A4 Wednesday 09:00-11:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
    A5 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
    A6 Wednesday 18:00-20:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
    A7 Thursday 14:00-16:50 30-35, 38, 40-41
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