Learning objectives are organized into levels. Learn more.

Exam 1

Exam 2

Exam 3

Electrical signals
Sensory systems
Animal reproduction


Learning Objective Levels

The learning objectives below are organized by the level of effort it will take most of you to master them.

Level 1 objectives are simple and straightforward. You should master these before class. I am not likely to give you direct instruction on the topic.

Level 2 objectives are more detailed and involved, and build on the level 1 objectives. You should look this material over before class and be familiar with it but I don't expect you to have it all mastered yet. I may give some direct instruction, but I am more likely to provide you with tips and strategies for learning it yourself.

Level 3 objectives are at the level we'll usually focus on in class. These objectives require you to use the information you're learning in the other objectives. We'll often spend most of our lecture time on these topics.

Principles of development

  • List the essential developmental processes (table 22.1)
  • Diagram the three major body axes (fig. 22.3)
  • Define the terms transcription, translation, gene expression, transcription factor, and regulatory cascade
  • Briefly describe the central dogma (fig. 16.3)
  • Describe each of the essential developmental processes and identify examples (table 22.1)
  • Explain the role of differential gene expression in development
  • Describe the source, location, & function of the bicoid protein in Drosophila embryo patterning (fig. 22.6)
  • Describe the function of Hox genes in embryo development
  • Describe the regulatory cascade of early Drosophila development (figs. 22.7, 22.9, video of gene expression in Drosophila development)
  • Compare and contrast the expression of Hox genes in Drosophila vs. mammals and in tetrapods with forelimbs vs. snakes (figs. 22.10, 22.11)

Animal development

  • List the four major stages of early development in the order in which they occur
  • Identify the male and female gametes and briefly describe the structure of each
  • Define the terms cytoplasmic determinant, germ layer, and somite
  • List the three primary germ layers
  • Describe the process and important outcomes of each of the four major stages in early development: fertilization, cleavage, gastrulation, and organogenesis
  • Describe the role of bindin and its receptor protein in sea urchins
  • Describe the process and function of the acrosomal reaction and the cortical reaction
  • Explain how cytoplasmic determinants produce cellular differentiation during cleavage
  • Identify the adult tissues and organs derived from the three primary germ layers (fig. 23.7)
  • Describe the process of neurulation beginning with the formation of chordamesoderm (future notochord) and ending with the formation of the neural tube
  • Describe the developmental fates of the neural tube and neural crest
  • Describe the formation of the somites, including the germ layer they derive from, which structures are formed from somites, and the mechanism of differentiation (figs. 23.8, 23.10, 23.11)
  • Predict the outcomes of disruptions in each of the four major developmental stages (e.g. fertilizin protein mutated, cortical reaction blocked, chordamesoderm tissue transplanted, etc.)

Evolutionary processes

  • List the four primary evolutionary processes
  • List the four types of natural selection
  • Describe each of the four primary evolutionary processes, identify their effect on genetic diversity, and be able to offer examples of each mechanism (fig. 26.5, 26.6, 26.7, 26.12, 26.15, table 26.3)
  • Differentiate among directional, stabilizing, balancing, and disruptive natural selection and be able to offer examples of each type (figs. 26.5, 26.6, 26.7, table 26.3)
  • Identify the four primary evolutionary mechanisms from descriptive examples
  • Identify directional, stabilizing, balancing and disruptive natural selection from descriptive examples

Speciation & the history of life

  • List the three major species concepts
  • Identify branches, nodes, and tips on a phylogenetic tree
  • Define the terms character, ancestral trait, and derived trait with respect to phylogeny
  • Define homology and homoplasy
  • Identify which evolutionary processes cause species to diverge and which evolutionary processes prevent speciation
  • Interpret the relationships among organisms using phylogenetic trees and use the trees to identify monophyletic, polyphyletic, and paraphyletic groups (table 28.2, BioSkills 7 found in p. B:10 of your textbook, also see this nice evolutionary tree tutorial)
  • Describe how fossils are formed (fig. 28.5)
  • Identify at least four biases of the fossil record and describe how these biases limit our information about the past
  • Identify key timepoints (in mya) on "life's time line": origin of the earth, origin of life, first animal fossils, first fish, first amphibians, first reptiles, first birds, first mammals, origin of Homo sapiens (figs. 28.6, 28.7)
  • Identify homology and homoplasy from examples (fig. 28.2, 28.3)
  • Describe the data supporting the hypotheses that Hox gene duplication contributed to diversification in animal body plans (fig. 28.13)
  • Describe the data supporting the hypothesis that Hox gene cluster duplication contributed to diversification in the vertebrate lineage (fig. 28.13)
  • Compare and contrast the three major ways in which species may be defined (table 27.2)
  • Apply the species concept appropriately to real world examples (fig. 27.3, speciation tutorial)

Animal diversity: protostomes

  • List the characteristics that distinguish animals from organisms in other kingdoms
  • Define the term body plan (check your glossary!)
  • List the four primary aspects of an animal's body plan: number of germ layers, body symmetry, body cavity, early development
  • Identify the two major lineages within the protostome clade
  • Describe the four primary aspects of an animal body plan and identify each in animal examples (figs. 33.4, 33.5, 33.10, 33.12)
  • Describe secondary aspects of animal body plans and identify each in animal examples: limbs, nervous systems, cephalization, segmentation, etc.
  • Describe the phylogenetic relationships of the major animal phyla (fig. 33.2)
  • Identify the major structural innovations in the phylogenetic tree of animal life and associate these innovations with the appropriate animal lineages (fig. 33.2)
  • Describe the defining features of the Lophotrochozoa and Ecdysozoa and identify the protostome phyla that belong to each group (fig. 34.2, 34.4, 34.2)
  • Identify and distinguish between the four important lineages in the phylum Mollusca: gastropods, chitons, bivalves, and cephalopods (fig. 34.16, 34.17, 34.18, 34.19)
  • Identify and distinguish between the four important lineages in the phylum Arthropoda: crustaceans, myriapods, arachnids, and insects (fig. 34.27, 34.29, 34.31, table 34.1)
  • Compare and contrast the major protostome phyla in terms of their body plans: Platyhelminthes, Annelida, Mollusca, Nematoda, Arthropoda (fig. 33.9, 34.6, 34.7, 34.13, 34.15, 34.21, 34.26)

Animal diversity: deuterostomes

  • Identify the two major deuterostome phyla
  • Define the terms gnathostome, tetrapod, and amniote
  • List the three major lineages within Phylum Chordata
  • List the four extra-embryonic membranes in an amniotic egg
  • Describe the key features of the echinoderm body plan (figs. 35.2, 35.3)
  • Describe the key features of the chordate body plan (fig. 35.8)
  • Distinguish between the three important lineages in the phylum Chordata (figs. 35.8, 35.9, 35.10)
  • Identify which vertebrate classes are gnathostomes, tetrapods, and amniotes
  • Describe or diagram chordate phylogeny including the major groups within the subphylum Vertebrata (fig. 35.12, another picture of chordate phylogeny)
  • Identify the important innovations that occurred during vertebrate evolution (fig. 35.11)
  • Diagram or describe the arrangement of the four extra-embryonic membranes in an amniotic egg and indicate the major function of each membrane (fig. 35.17)
  • Compare and contrast the function and arrangement extra-embryonic membranes in placental mammals and oviparous vertebrates (fig. 35.18)
  • Relate the important themes in the diversification of the vertebrate lineage to the selection pressures in the environment at the time they appeared
  • Describe the current hypotheses for the evolution of jaws and limbs, including examples of supporting evidence for these hypotheses (figs. 35.14, 35.16)

Animal form & function

  • Describe the hierarchical organization of cells, tissues, organs, systems (fig. 42.7, 42.8)
  • List the four major tissue types and briefly describe the major function(s) of each
  • Calculate the surface area and volume of simple shapes such as a cube
  • Calculate the surface area/volume ratio of simple shapes such as a cube
  • Describe the basic structure of epithelial tissue and identify epithelial tissue subtypes (fig. 42.6,epithelia)
  • Describe the basic structure of connective tissue and identify basic connective tissue subtypes (table 42.1, connective tissues)
  • Describe the three key concepts of animal structure listed below and function and offer examples of each
    • Form follows function—with limitations (figs. 42.2, 42.3, panda's thumb essay and illustration, human pelvis examples)
    • Body size affects many aspects of animal physiology (figs. 42.9, 42.10)
    • Animals regulate their internal environment within narrow limits (fig. 42.13)
  • Describe the constraints imposed by the surface area/volume ratio with respect to animal physiology
  • Describe the relationship between structure and function of the epithelial and connective tissue subtypes

Water & electrolyte balance

Part I

  • Define the terms diffusion, osmosis, active transport, and passive transport
  • Define the terms electrolyte, osmolarity, hyposmotic, isosmotic, and hyperosmotic
  • List the most abundant electrolytes found in animal body fluids
  • Define the terms osmoregulator and osmoconformer
  • List the three main nitrogenous wastes excreted by animals
  • Predict the direction of water or solute movement in specific examples involving solutions separated by semi-permeable membranes (fig. 43.1)
  • Differentiate among passive transport, primary active transport, and secondary active transport (fig. 43.5)
  • Identify the osmoregulatory challenges marine, freshwater, and terrestrial animals face (figs. 43.2, 43.3, 43.4)
  • Compare and contrast the three main types of nitrogenous waste in terms of source, structure, solubility, and toxicity (table 43.1)
  • Diagram the structure of epithelia involved in osmoregulation;  (figs. 43.6, 43.7, 43.9, 43.13)
  • Describe the movement of solutes across epithelia exposed to solutions of varying composition and osmolarity

  • Identify the transport mechanisms in epithelia involved in osmoregulation

Part II

  • Identify at least three examples of excretory tubules in animals
  • List and define the four main processes that take place in excretory tubules (filtration, reabsorption, secretion, excretion)
  • Describe the basic structure and function of excretory tubules  (figs. 43.9, 43.11, nephridial structure)
  • Describe the structure and function of the terrestrial vertebrate nephron (figs. 43.10, 43.11, 43.12, 43.15, 43.16, table 43.2, figure from lecture. Here is a link to interactive renal anatomy )
  • Describe the processes of filtration, reabsorption, and secretion
  • Explain how filtration, reabsorption, and secretion contribute to the formation of urine (excretion)
  • Describe the role of ADH in the regulation of kidney function (fig. 43.17, figure from lecture)
  • Describe how fish gills operate as both an osmoregulatory and excretory organ (countercurrent flow, photomicrograph of gill lamellae)
  • Given appropriate data, determine how nephrons handle nutrients, electrolytes, and other substances.

  • Explain how adaptations in nephron structure relate to environmental challenges

Animal nutrition

  • List the three macronutrients
  • List the four major feeding mechanisms
  • List the four stages of food processing
  • Briefly describe the chemical structure of the three macronutrients and describe how the body utilizes them for energy and other purposes (fig. 9.3, 44.7)
  • Identify examples of each of the four major feeding mechanisms (table 33.4)
  • Describe examples of specialized form and function that support each feeding mechanism
  • Describe how tooth morphology varies with diet in vertebrates
  • Name the four tooth types in mammals and compare mammal dentition to that of other vertebrates.
  • Describe the relationship of form to function in the vertebrate alimentary canal (fig. 44.8, 44.9, 44.10, 44.12)

  • Compare and contrast the structure and function of the gut in herbivores vs. carnivores, ruminants vs. other herbivores, and incomplete vs. complete guts (figs. 44.5, 44.6, 44.11)

Gas exchange & circulation

Part I

  • Define the partial pressure of a gas and calculate it given appropriate data (fig. 45.2)
  • Identify the factors that govern speed of diffusion
  • List the three main types of respiratory organ in animals
  • Describe the physical properties that govern the partial pressures of gases in air and in water
  • Summarize Fick's law and predict the effect of changing surface area, partial pressures, and distance on diffusion (fig. 45.3)
  • Describe the four steps involved in gas exchange between the environment and an animal's cells (fig 45.1)
  • Describe the structure of the respiratory membrane (fig. 45.10, see this tutorial on the structure)
  • Compare and contrast the structure and function of gills, tracheal systems, and lungs (figs. 45.4, 45.5, 45.6, 45.8, 45.10, 44.12)
  • Compare and contrast the structure and function of bird lungs and mammal lungs. Trace the path of airflow through each system. (fig. 44.12, bird lung tutorial to be compared to mammal lung tutorial)

Part II

  • Briefly describe the structure & function of the hemoglobin molecule
  • Define open circulatory system and closed circulatory system
  • List the three primary types of blood vessel
  • Identify the two main types of heart chamber found in vertebrates
  • Identify the two cardiovascular circuits found in terrestrial vertebrates and identify what each circuit serves
  • Compare and contrast open & closed circulatory systems and identify which organisms have each type of system (fig. 45.19)
  • Describe the structure and function of the three primary types of blood vessel (fig. 45.20)
  • List the partial pressures of O2 and CO2 in the mammal cardiorespiratory system and describe the major factors that determine these partial pressures (fig. 45.24)
  • Use the oxygen-hemoglobin equilibrium curve to determine hemoglobin saturation under varying oxygen partial pressures (fig. 45.14, 45.15)
  • Describe how pH, temperature, and amino acid sequence affect the oxygen-hemoglobin equilibrium curve (figs. 45.16, 45.17)
  • Compare and contrast the circulatory systems of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Trace the path of blood flow through each system. (fig. 45.22)
  • Predict how the partial pressures of O2 and CO2 in the vertebrate cardiorespiratory system would change under different environmental and physiological conditions (e.g. exercise, changes in breathing rate, changes in altitude, and others)
  • Predict how the oxygen hemoglobin equilibrium curve will differ under various pH conditions, under different temperatures, and in animals from different environments

Electrical signals

  • Identify the main parts of a neuron: dendrites, cell body, axon
  • Describe the roles of sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons with respect to the basic reflex pathway (fig. 46.1)
  • Define the terms resting membrane potential, action potential, and post-synaptic potential
  • Diagram the structure of the neuron including the types of ion channels in its plasma membrane and briefly describe the functions of dendrites, cell body, axons, myelin sheath, and nodes of Ranvier (figs. 46.2, 46.9, 46.12, channel distribution)
  • Describe how the resting membrane potential is established and maintained (fig. 46.3, 46.4, box 46.1, Na+/K+ pump, concentration/electrical gradients)
  • Describe the function of the voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels (fig. 46.6)
  • Describe how an action potential is generated and propagated (figs. 46.5, 46.7, 46.8, 46.9, action potential figure)
  • Diagram the structure of a synapse and describe the sequence of events in synaptic transmission (fig. 46.12)
  • Differentiate between excitatory and inhibitory post-synaptic potentials in terms of the their effect on membrane potential and on the likelihood of action potential generation (fig. 46.13, 46.14 post-synaptic potentials)
  • Predict how changes in ECF or ICF ion concentrations, channel function, neurotransmitter abundance, and other relevant parameters will affect resting membrane potential, action potentials, synaptic transmission, and post-synaptic potentials

Sensory systems

  • List the major functional classes of sensory receptor
  • Define transduction and transmission
  • Identify the stimuli detected by each of the major functional classes of sensory receptor
  • Identify specific examples of each type of sensory receptor from the animal kingdom
  • Identify the location and mechanisms of transduction, transmission, and integration (transduction figure, fig. 47.1, 47.2)
  • Describe the structures and mechanisms associated with transduction and transmission in the vertebrate auditory system (figs. 47.3, 47.4, 47.5, 47.6, animation of hair cell function)


  • List the three types of muscle in vertebrates
  • Define the terms muscle fiber, myofibril, sarcomere, and myofilament
  • Compare and contrast skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle in terms of structure, function, and location (table 48.1)
  • Describe the structure of striated muscle to the level of the myofilament arrangement (fig. 48.1, 48.2)
  • Describe the structure of a sarcomere, identifying the light band, dark band, and Z disc. Identify which myofilaments are found in the light band and which in the dark band.
  • Describe the sliding-filament model of sarcomere contraction (fig. 48.2, 48.4, 48.5, animated model of sliding filaments)
  • Describe the mechanism by which electrical excitation of muscle cells is coupled to muscle contraction (fig. 48.6)
  • Predict how changes in ion concentration, channel function, neurotransmitter abundance, and other relevant parameters will affect muscle contraction

Animal Reproduction

  • Define sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction
  • List three main mechanisms of asexual reproduction
  • Define the terms gonad and gamete
  • Define the term hermaphrodite
  • Distinguish between true hermaphrodites and sequential hermaphrodites and offer examples of each
  • List the advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction
  • Identify specific examples of each mechanism of asexual reproduction (fig. 50.1)
  • Describe the basic anatomy of sexually reproducing organisms in terms of the structures involved in production of gametes, transport of gametes, production of accessory fluids, and development of offspring; identify specific examples of each of these (figs. 50.11, 50.11, 50.13)