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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: SCIN310 Course ID: 4289 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

The origin, diversity, and adaptations of the vertebrates. Phylogenetic systematics (cladistics) will be used as the basis for determining evolutionary relationships of organisms. Monophyletic groupings provide a framework for examining behavior, physiology, and ecology in an explicit evolutionary context. Vertebrates common to North America will be emphasized. (Prerequisites: SCIN130 or BIOL134)

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 08/01/21 Spring 2021 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to

  • LO-1 Describe vertebrate evolution from protovertebrates to mammals.
  • LO-2 Interpret vertebrate classification and phylogenetics.
  • LO-3 Extrapolate the biology of vertebrates to basic physiological, evolutionary, and ecological concepts.
  • LO-4 Compare and contrast major vertebrate groups and their salient features.
  • LO-5 Analyze factors impacting vertebrate animal populations in natural communities.


There are eight forum activities in this course, one for each week. The student is responsible for participating in each of the eight forums. For all forums, each student will respond answer associated questions as posed by the forum instructions, offer his/her analysis to the questions posed, and respond substantively to at least two classmate posts. The initial student forum response will contain significant thought and analysis, utilize outside reference sources, and contain at least 300 words. Initial forum responses are completed by Wednesday each week. Responses to classmate posts are significant and substantive by asking probing questions, emphasizing points of agreement, and clearly discussing points of difference (i.e., the posts contain more content than “I agree.”) Classmate response posts are a minimum of 75 words and are completed by Sunday each week.

Case Studies: Local Species Accounts

There are four Case Study assignments that will be completed in this course. The goal of the Case Study: Local Species accounts is to become more familiar with vertebrate species in your local area. Specific, detailed instructions and the list of potential topics and activities can be found in the online classroom. Plagiarism is not tolerated and will result in a zero score, at minimum. If you have any questions about proper citation and what consists of plagiarism please ask.

Seven quizzes will cover the reading material from the Pough et al. Vertebrate Life textbook. Each quiz is open-book and open-note. It is expected that each quiz represents the student’s individual efforts. Each quiz contains multiple-choice questions and is not proctored. The student must submit quizzes exam before 11:55 PM EST on Sunday night of the week assigned. It is important that the student does not access the quiz until ready to take the quiz. These are timed quizzes can only be accessed once. Once the quiz is accessed the timer begins. The student will have two hours take each quiz. The student must complete this quiz during its assigned week.

Research Project (Due Week 7)

The research project assignments in this course represent the student’s synthesis and research of large scale concepts in Vertebrate Zoology applied to a specific topic or situation. Research projects represent the student’s original work and thought with carefully cited research. The student chooses a research project based specific instructions found in the online classroom. Specific, detailed instructions and the list of potential topics and activities can be found in the online classroom. This research project assignment will require significant time and thought. Since this project will require significant effort it is worth a significant portion of the course grade. Plagiarism is not tolerated and will result in a zero score, at minimum. If you have any questions about proper citation and what consists of plagiarism please ask.

Please see the Student Handbook to reference the University’s grading scale.

NameGrade %
Forums 24.00 %
Lesson 1 Forum (Week 1) 3.00 %
Lesson 2 Forum (Week 2) 3.00 %
Lesson 3 Forum (Week 3) 3.00 %
Lesson 4 Forum (Week 4) 3.00 %
Lesson 5 Forum (Week 5) 3.00 %
Lesson 6 Forum (Week 6) 3.00 %
Lesson 7 Forum (Week 7) 3.00 %
Lesson 8 Forum (Week 8) 3.00 %
Research Project 35.00 %
Research Project Week 7 35.00 %
Quizzes 21.00 %
Quiz Week 2 Ch 1-3 3.00 %
Quiz Week 3 Ch 4-5 3.00 %
Quiz Week 4 Ch 8-10 3.00 %
Quiz Week 5 Ch 11-13 3.00 %
Quiz Week 6 Ch 14-17 3.00 %
Quiz Week 7 Ch 18-21 3.00 %
Quiz Week 8 Ch 22-24 3.00 %
Case Studies 20.00 %
Case Study Week 2 5.00 %
Case Study Week 4 5.00 %
Case Study Week 6 5.00 %
Case Study Week 8 5.00 %

Required Technology

  • See the Technology Requirements section of the undergraduate catalog for the minimum hardware and software requirements.

Microsoft Office 365 is available to APUS students for free. To sign up, visit If you have questions about accessing the software, please contact Classroom support at

Web Sites
In addition to the required course texts, the following public domain web sites are useful. Please abide by the university’s academic honesty policy when using Internet sources as well. Note web site addresses are subject to change.

Site Name

Web Site URL/Address

PAE Virtual Glossary

Tree of Life Web Project

Animal Diversity Web

Smithsonian NMNH Library

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

UCMP Vertebrates

American Museum of Natural History

National Geographic

Book Title:Vertebrate Life, 9th ed - the VitalSource e-book is provided inside the classroom
Publication Info:VS-Pearson
Unit Cost:$147.77
Electronic ISBN:9781269458238
Electronic Unit Cost:$35.00

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.