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 SCI 134 - Introduction to Biodiversity


The biosphere consists of millions of living species, and millions more have existed in the past. The total number of living species is still unknown, but current developments in paleontology, molecular biology, and sampling techniques, have totally reshaped our view of the classification of the living world. It is now recognized that plants and animals; traditionally the two groups defining the science of biology, are merely two branches on a giant tree of life. Many other independent and diverse groups exist, such as brown algae, fungi, diatoms, archaea and may different groups of bacteria.

This course aims to provide an overview of the living world. We will travel through the tree of life, starting with the prokaryote domains of bacteria and archaea. We will investigate different prokaryote groups, their ways of life, and their manifestations in the world around us. Next, we will explore the diversity of eukaryotes. There are countless single-celled eukaryotic groups that play important ecological roles, such as dinoflagellates that help create coral reefs, and apicomplexans that cause diseases like malaria. Finally, we will discuss the multicellular groups that shape the world around us: plants, seaweeds, fungi and animals.

From our track, we will leap sideways every now and then to address issues other than, but related to, biodiversity, such as medicine, philosophy, psychology and economics.  

The course includes several excursions, a.o. to the Rotterdam Natural History Museum and the experimental farm in Colijnsplaat.


Dr. Inez Flameling​




Environmental Science



The following are advantageous when taking this course:

  • ​High school chemistry and biology
  • SCI 131 Introduction to Life Science

Required for

This course is required in order to take the following course:

  • SCI 233 Ecology and Evolution
  • SCI 333 Advanced Ecology
  • SCI 334 Marine Biology