Faculty of Science

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Biological Sciences


Dr Christopher Johnstone (Clayton); Dr Wendy Wright (Gippsland)



  • Second semester 2016 (Day)


  • First semester 2016 (Day)
  • First semester 2016 (Off-campus)


The diversity and biology of Australian vertebrates will be investigated in relation to biogeographical history and ecology of the region. The course examines the biology of Australian vertebrates as examples of the physiological, behavioural and nutritional adaptations that animals around the world develop in response to environmental challenges. Specific topics will include; life history strategies of birds and mammals with particular emphasis on marsupials, clutch size in birds and the relationship to latitude, cooperative breeding in birds, physiological adaptations to temperate and arid conditions, and feeding adaptations in relation to the evolution of dietary resources.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe the historical factors that have influenced the evolution of the Australian vertebrate fauna;

  1. Explain the significance of physiological, behavioural, reproductive and nutritional adaptations in vertebrates in relation to their ecology;

  1. Describe the diversity and distribution of major vertebrate taxa in Australia;

  1. Demonstrate competence in techniques for investigating the functional biology of organisms;

  1. Communicate scientific findings in oral and written forms.


Examination (2.5 hours): 50%
Written reports: 40%
Oral presentation 10%

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures and the equivalent of 3 hours of practical and/or field work per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


BIO2242 and an additional 6 points from level two BIO units, or ENV2712 and BIO2752.