Evolutionary Biology

How do I get involved? Visit MVZ Undergraduate Opportunities
Why focus on vertebrate evolutionary biology?

Evolutionary studies of vertebrate biology provide a critical framework from which to interpret human responses to medical and other challenges (Nesse et al. 2006). Humans represent one of ~4,500 extant species of mammals, suggesting that broad knowledge of mammalian biology should lead to improved understanding of human health concerns. At the same time, an evolutionary perspective allows use of historical changes in vertebrate faunas to better predict responses of humans and other species to environmental perturbations, such as current patterns of global warming (Barnosky 2009). Together, these attributes make knowledge of vertebrate evolutionary biology fundamental to training scientists and health care professionals who are prepared to respond to the multiple environmental challenges faced by modern humans.