BIO2181 - Evolution of plant diversity - 2017

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


Associate Professor Martin Burd

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit examines the diversity of plant life, how plants evolved and how they live and grow. Topics cover evolutionary theory, the interpretation and use of phylogenetic trees in biodiversity research, plant form and function, and plant physiology. The unit provides an overview of the characteristics of algae, bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms. As we move through this diverse range of plants we discuss their evolutionary relationships and the adaptive significance of their key features, including the evolution of physiological and anatomical adaptations to different biomes.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain the evolutionary (i.e. phylogenetic) relationships among major plant lineages;
  2. Describe the major structural innovations of each group and how they function;
  3. Describe key physiological processes in plants and how they have evolved;
  4. Describe the influence of evolutionary history and of the environment on biogeographic patterns of species occurrence, from community to continental scales;
  5. Demonstrate a basic ability to use the command-line programming platform R to display phylogenetic trees and the use of phylogenetic information to analyse the evolution of traits and the formation of plant communities;
  6. Demonstrate a basic ability to identify species of the Australian flora with the aid of taxonomic keys.


Mid semester examination (2 hours): 25%

Final examination (3 hours): 25%

Practical assessment: 25%

Plant identification project: 25%

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures and one 3-hour practical per week (or equivalent).

This unit may involve informal and formal excursions (unfunded).

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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


BIO1011 and either BIO1022 or BIO1042; or BMS1011 and BMS1021; or permission