BIO2181 - Evolution of Plant Diversity

General Unit Information

Moss Flower

Botany is a modern, dynamic, wide-ranging science. There are many kinds of botanists with different questions and approaches to understanding plant biology. Some study plant genes and molecules; others probe the inner workings of particular species, learning more of their nutrition and metabolism; still others investigate plants and their interactions with other organisms at the level of ecosystems, assessing botanical biodiversity and discovering new species or gaining new understanding of how natural environments might best be managed.

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;
  1. Describe the major structural innovations of each group and how they function;
  1. Describe key physiological processes in plants and how they have evolved;
  1. Describe the influence of evolutionary history and of the environment on biogeographic patterns of species occurrence, from community to continental scales;
  1. 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;
  1. Demonstrate a basic ability to identify species of the Australian flora with the aid of taxonomic keys.

NamesAssoc Prof Martin Burd
Office HoursBy appointment - please e-mail
Technical Coordinator
Names:Emily Skoda
Office Location18/114
PrescribedBiology of Plants, Raven PH, Evert RF and Eichhorn SE, Freeman/Worth, 8th edition
RecommendedThe Families and Genera of Victorian Plants., Duigan, S.L, Ed. 12a - 1989
RecommendedName That Flower., Clarke, I. & Lee, H., Melbourne University Press., 1989
RecommendedNative Trees and Shrubs of South-Eastern, Costermans, L., Weldon Publishing, Sydney., 1983
RecommendedThe Language of Botany., Debenham, C., The Society for Growing Australian Plants., 2000
Program for 2016
University Handbook EntryBIO2181 - Synopsis, Assessment & Prerequisites
ScheduleBIO2181 - Lecture & Practical Schedule 2017
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