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Evolution and Ecology

EEB undergraduate students at a field site.

EEB undergraduate students at a field site.

Source: Nicole Carbone, EEB Peer Advisor 2009-2010

Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity Undergraduate Program

Evolution and Ecology faculty designed the major requirements to ensure that everyone receiving an Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity (EEB) degree would have a broad and balanced exposure to basic biology. Within the overall guidelines set by the major, you are allowed quite a bit of flexibility in designing a program uniquely fitted to your needs. The EEB major offers students a broad background in the theoretical and empirical basis of our understanding of the diversity and distribution of living organisms. The program of study for the Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity major begins with a core of introductory courses in mathematics, physical sciences, and biology. These are followed by survey courses in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity and various more specialized courses that allow the student to focus his or her studies.

Learning Objectives for Students in the Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity Major

  • Evolution

    • Describe the fundamental processes that cause or prevent adaptive evolution, speciation and extinction

    • Describe the basic methods that are used to reconstruct the evolutionary histories of, and relationships among, groups of organisms

    • Based on evolutionary theory, predict how differences in population size, natural selection and gene flow will affect genetic variation and future adaptability of populations

    • Apply knowledge of evolution to the solution of problems facing the human population and to the preservation of biodiversity

    • Exemplify problems in human society that are caused by a misunderstanding of the scientific process generally, and of evolution specifically

  • Ecology

    • Describe the processes involved in population growth and regulation and how these can be applied to the management of natural populations

    • Describe the fundamental processes that promote species coexistence and lead to the maintenance of species diversity

    • Apply and integrate knowledge of species’ biology, interactions among species, and environmental variation to predict the structure and functioning of ecosystems

    • Based on ecological theory, predict the potential consequences of specific human activities including harvesting, pollution, and climate change on species’ abundances and distributions, and ecosystem processes

    • Apply foundational knowledge in ecology to understand and predict the consequences for humans of changes in ecological communities

  • Biodiversity

    • Describe global patterns of species diversity and methods used to assess biodiversity

    • Describe and interpret the morphological and ecological diversity of a group of organisms in a phylogenetic framework

    • Describe the processes that increase or decrease biodiversity at both evolutionary and ecological time scales

  • Synthesis

    • Apply quantitative models and data to the solution of problems in genetics, evolution and ecology

    • Integrate fundamental principles of evolution and ecology to solve problems of interest to human societies

EEB Student Testimonials

“Choosing EEB (EVE) as my primary major was the most important decision I made as an undergraduate at UC Davis. The interesting and provocative classes helped awaken a passion for studying the natural world, leading me on a career path that I love and am proud of. The professors and advising staff were very accessible and encouraged me to become an active member of the EVE and University community. The major also provided me with pertinent and enjoyable jobs, internships, and study abroad opportunities that played a major role in my successful post graduate life. If it was not for the EVE professors, staff, and experiences, I would not have been able to find a substantial job in research right out of college or gain admission to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.”

— Jake Theil

“I graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity (EEB) in 2008. When I look back at my time in EEB I recognize that I had multiple unique experiences. One of these experiences was studying at Bodega Bay, where I learned how to think independently and solve problems in a way that I had never been asked to do previously. The EVE faculty were constantly challenging me to go beyond what is possible in a traditional classroom environment. After my time at Bodega I also had the opportunity to further develop my research skills while participating in EVE 180, “Experimental Ecology and Evolution in the Field”. As a part of this course I was able to work with 2 outstanding faculty members as well as 19 other undergraduates to develop and carry out a publishable research project. What I learned as a part of this project went far beyond facts and theories of research– I learned how field research actually works. I also had the opportunity to learn molecular techniques by working in the Strong Lab for 2 years of my undergraduate studies.

All of the opportunities that I took advantage of in EEB have been invaluable to me since graduating. Directly after graduating, I was hired by a non-profit called the Center for Land- Based Learning where I run education programs for high school students that focus on environmental restoration. This position requires that I be able to problem-solve and think creatively, skills that I was able to learn in the EEB major. In the fall I will be leaving my current position to begin my graduate degree in Plant Biology at the University of California, Riverside, which was my first choice of graduate programs! While I was applying to graduate programs I had the complete support of the EVE faculty. They were constantly available to me for advice, and were excited to write me letters of recommendation. I am confident that in addition to helping me with admission to graduate school, all of the unique experiences that I had in the EEB major have prepared me for success in graduate school and beyond.”

— Shana Welles