Population Genetics

ECOL 526
3 Units
General introductory course on empirical and theoretical population genetics. It will involve two weekly lectures, weekly problem sets, and regular readings from the primary literature. A major goal of this course is to make students familiar with basic models of population genetics and to acquaint students with empirical tests of these models. As much as any field of biology, population genetics has been divided into a theoretical and an empirical branch. However, these two bodies of knowledge are intimately related and this course will cover both in roughly equal amounts. We will discuss the primary forces and processes involved in shaping genetic variation in natural populations (mutation, drift, selection, migration, recombination, mating patterns, population size and population subdivision), methods of measuring genetic variation in nature, and experimental tests of important ideas in population genetics. The course will also cover a few more specialized topics such as transposable elements, the evolution of multigene families, and molecular clocks. Graduate-level requirements include additional exam questions, additional readings from the literature, and presentation of a 15 minute overview and synthesis of a specialized topic in population genetics.