Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Conservation Genetics

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION Molecular genetics and genome sequencing enable the study genes over spatio-temporal elements and to study the genetic identity and variability of any form of life, from microscopic to mega. Through the use of specific molecular genetic techniques, an animal's degree of inbreeding or the genetic variation within a population may be investigated. Mapping an organism's genetic makeup and investigating genetic diversity at inter- and intra-population levels is also essential to assess the levels of biodiversity present and enables the conservation of rare or threatened species, populations, and genes.

The following basic concepts in conservation genetics would be expanded on:
- The role of genetics studies in conserving biodiversity;
- Assessing genetic variation and divergence among species and populations for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
- Inbreeding depression;
- Demography and extinction;
- Metapopulation and fragmentation;
- Phylogeny reconstruction, systematics and taxonomy using molecular genetics;
- Forensic and management applications of genetic identification.

Students are informed that regular attendance to lectures, practical classes and visits is obligatory. Students will be allowed to sit for the examination and a grade may be awarded to a particular study-unit only if attendance to lectures, practical sessions and/or field/site visits has been regular and if they have submitted all assignments and report as required.

Study-unit Aims:

- To develop knowledge of Conservation Genetics as a biological science today;
- To familiarise students to terminologies and definitions used in Conservation Genetics;
- To learn various techniques and tools used, including their purpose, advantages and limitations, in the areas of molecular and population genetics relating to conservation genetics and genomics.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Define and expand on the theoretical principles of Molecular Genetics, Population Genetics as applied to conservation genetics;
- Distinguish the areas of conservation genetics and their respective research tools;
- Discuss current research trends and developing technologies making use of genetics, with respective ethical considerations where required;
- Discuss the use of different areas of conservation genetics to solve current problems and supply accurate knowledge of organisms used for biotechnology or requiring to be protected and conserved.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Analyse genetic data through case-studies and practical sessions in various areas of conservation genetics (molecular and population genetics);
- Communicate their findings both orally and in proper written format;
- Consolidate skills in literature review and critical consideration of both the theoretical and practical issues linked to the area of Conservation Genetics and Genomics.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

KLUG, WS., CUMMING, MR., SPENCER C., & PALLADINO MA., and MICHAEL R. (2011) 10th Ed. Concepts of Genetics. Benjamin Cummings.

FRANKHAM, R., BALLOU, JD., BRISCOE, DA. (2010) 2nd Ed. Introduction to Conservation Genetics. Cambridge University Press, 618pp.

Supplementary Readings:

ALLENDORF, F.W., LUIKART G.H., & AITKEN S.N. (2013) 2nd Ed. Conservation and the Genetics of Populations. Wiley-Blackwell, Hardcover 624pp.

MILLS, S., (2013) 2nd Ed. Conservation of Wildlife Populations: Demography, Genetics, and Management. Wiley-Blackwell, Hardcover 342pp.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Study-units: BSc Hons Biology 1st and 2nd Year study-units

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (1 Hour and 30 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Adriana Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.