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Calendar Description  

The natural origins, history and behavioral ecology of terrestrial vertebrates. The laboratory includes classification, life histories and ecology with emphasis on B.C. species. Field trips will be held throughout the semester, beginning in the late afternoon of the first scheduled day for the class.  

Course Objectives

In this course we will seek answers to questions about the origins, diversity, and adaptation of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  Lectures consider the evidence linking living vertebrates with earlier forms; examine how geological processes affected patterns of geographic distribution; and explore how the anatomy, physiology, and behaviour of vertebrates have been adapted to exploit the terrestrial environment.   Labs periods focus on the development of skills necessary to identify vertebrates in the field or laboratory using field guides and formal keys.

Course / Learning Outcomes

Upon successfully completing this course, the student should be confident in their ability to identify the common species of terrestrial vertebrates in British Columbia and also to deduce the identity of unfamiliar specimens.   An understanding of the ecological requirements of native species, as developed in this course, will allow students to appreciate the value of current strategies for the conservation of terrestrial vertebrates provincially and internationally.


BIOL 2250 (C minimum). BIOL 3020 recommended.

Recommended Materials

Reptiles and Amphibians of Canada. Fisher, Joynt, & Brooks. Lone Pine Publishing.


Field Guide of Birds in North America. McCauley, J. National Geographic Society  or


The Sibley Guide to Birds. Sibley, D.A. National Audubon Society


Mammals of British Columbia. Edeer & Pattie. Lone Pine Publishing. 


A Checklist of the Birds of Kamloops.  R. Howie. 1995.


A Manual of Laboratory and Field Studies for Terrestrial Vertebrate Zoology.  2001. Univ. College of the Cariboo: Kamloops, B.C.


Additional Readings

Selected journal articles, government reports, and popular science articles will be posted as PDFs on the course moodle site. 

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