Saint Louis University

400-Level Course Descriptions

Advanced, Majors

To enroll in 3000- or 4000-level Biology courses, students must have achieved a grade of "C" or better in BIOL 1040, BIOL 1060 and CHEM 1610, CHEM 1620.

BIOL 4010 Sex, Evolution, and Behavior (3).  This course is an in-depth examination of evolutionary theories concerning the sexual reproduction, parthenogenesis, mate choice, sexual selection, life history strategies, and sex allocation. Specialized topics such as pheromone communication will also be covered. Prerequisite: BIOL 3010.

BIOL 4020 Vertebrate Reproductive Physiology (3).  This course is an in-depth examination of reproduction in the vertebrates. Topics include the development of the sex organs, gametogenesis, hormone function, and regulation of gonadal function, pregnancy, and parturition. Prerequisite: BIOL 3040.

BIOL 4040 Pollination Biology (3).  The function and evolution of the reproductive organs of seed plants based on their morphology, biochemistry, breeding system, genetics, and ecological relationships between flowers and such pollinators as insects, vertebrates, and air currents. Includes two field trips to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

BIOL 4050 Molecular Technique Lab (2). This course will provide students with experience in the theory and practice of molecular biology techniques. Topics to be covered include DNA isolation, cloning, PCR, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatics. Prerequisites: BIOL 3020 and BIOL 3030.

BIOL 4060 Structure and Function of Ecosystems (3).  Principles of ecology developed through an understanding of the nature and properties of ecosystems.
Prerequisite: BIOL 3400, or permission of instructor.

BIOL 4090 Plant Ecology (3).  Principles of plant autecology and synecology. The nature and properties of plant communities-structure, development, and distribution. The interaction of the individual plant with its environment.

BIOL 4100 Natural History of Vertebrates (4). Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours per week. Prominent morphological, behavioral, physiological and ecological features of fishes, amphibia, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Weekend field trips are required.

BIOL 4110 Natural History (1).  An extended field trip to study the ecology of vertebrates, and the ecological features of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Weekend field trips are required. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor required. (Note: This course does not fulfill a B.Sc. area requirement.)

BIOL 4150 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior (3).  A comprehensive introductory neuroscience course which covers electrophysiology of action potentials and synapses, channels, neurotransmitters, sensory and motor systems, development, neuroanatomy, and integrative brain function.

BIOL 4200 Aquatic Ecology (4).  Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours per week. An exploration of freshwater ecosystems in Missouri including springs, rivers, and lakes. The course will explore the diversity of living organisms, both animals and plants, found in these ecosystems. A major goal will be to understand how the physical and chemical properties of water affect the abundance and diversity of aquatic organisms. Weekend field trips are required. This course is also taught during the summer at the Reis Field Station.

BIOL 4210 Biology and Classification of Orchids (3).  An introduction to the evolution, classification, and distribution of the Orchidaceae (the largest family of flowering plants). The course will cover how their functional anatomy/morphology encourages their unique interactions with trees, fungi, and a range of insects. Includes one field trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

BIOL 4240 General and Medical Entomology (4).  Lecture two hours, laboratory four hours per week. This course is a survey of the natural history, classification, and phylogeny of insects, with an emphasis on common insects. Field trips during laboratory hours.

BIOL 4260 Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles (4).  Lecture three hours, laboratory four hours per week. This course is a survey of the diversity, natural history, evolution, and biology of amphibians and reptiles. Weekend field trips are required.

BIOL 4270 Field Studies with Amphibians and Reptiles (1).   An extended field trip to study the ecology of amphibians and reptiles. This course does not fulfill a B. Sc. area requirement.

BIOL 4280 Biology of Fishes (4).  Lecture three hours, laboratory involves 3-4 outdoor Saturday or Sunday field trips, and one may involve two of these weekend days to visit and behind scenes tour of either Shedd Aquarium or Tennessee Aquarium. Introduction of the biological aspects of fishes: systematics, ecology, behavior, evolution, and the economic importance of freshwater and marine fishes. Extra costs may be required for one of the aquarium field trips.


BIOL 4290 Biology of Fishes: Field Trip (1).  An exploration of the freshwater fishes of Florida. Offered as a 10-day field trip during Spring Break. This course does not fulfill a B.Sc. area requirement.

BIOL 4310 Biology of Birds (4). Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours per week. Introduction to the study of birds including discussion of ecology, structure and function, evolution, behavior, and systematics. Laboratory includes field trips to the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, and other birding areas. Also, taught occasionally at the Reis Field Station.

BIOL 4320 Cave Biology (4).  An introduction to the study of caves. Emphasis will be placed on the systematics of cave organisms and on the adaptations that cave organisms possess to exist in an energy poor environment. Field work will involve studying cave systems in the Ozarks of Missouri. This course is taught during the summer at the Reis Field Station.

BIOL 4330 Spring Flora of the Ozarks (4).  A field-based course designed to acquaint students with the spring flora of the Ozarks. Emphasis will be placed on sight recognition of plant families and on identifying plant species using taxonomic keys. Taught at the Reis Field Station.

BIOL 4340 Systematic Biology (3).  This course is a general survey of the principles of systematics and taxonomy. Topics to be covered include a history of taxonomic and systematic methods, classification, species and speciation; population variation and its analysis; taxonomic publications; and rules of zoological nomenclature.

BIOL 4350 Biology of Parasitic Organisms (4).  Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours per week. Discussion of symbiotic relationships between animal and plant parasites and their hosts, evolution of parasitism, and current approaches to chemotherapy. In the laboratory, parasite form and function will be studied.

BIOL 4360 Animal Behavior (3).  This course surveys the vast diversity of behaviors among all taxa of animals, including humans. Topics covered: the mechanisms that produce and modify behavior at the genetic, endocrine, and neural levels; and how the environment interacts with the biology of species in order to modify behaviors that lead to optimized evolutionary fitness.

BIOL 4370 Animal Behavior Laboratory (1).  Laboratory three hours per week. This laboratory course will introduce hypotheses testing, techniques, designing protocols, and statistical analyses used in the study of animal behavior in the laboratory and in the field. Prerequisite: Concurrent or prior enrollment in BIOL 4360.

BIOL 4400 Applied Ecology (3).  This course will concentrate on the identification and possible solutions of ecological problems faced by managers today. Introduction to general methods of ecological risk assessment. Special emphasis on sustainable use of land, marine, and aquatic resources. Prerequisite: BIOL 3400.

BIOL 4410 Comparative Animal Physiology (3).  Functional adaptations of vertebrates and invertebrates to their environment (e.g., desert, Arctic, high altitude, etc.).

BIOL 4440 Vertebrate Histology: Structure and Function of Tissues (4).  Lecture two hours, laboratory four hours per week. Function and microscopic morphology of vertebrate tissues.

BIOL 4450 Ecological Risk Assessment (3).  This course will review the federal laws pertaining to environmental protection, including NEPA, RCRA, CERCLA, and the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. The course will also examine the sources of risk for ecological entities and discuss how to determine and manage those risks. The main focus will be on risk determination and management of wild populations, ecosystems, and landscapes. Prerequisite: BIOL 3400.

BIOL 4460 Exercise Physiology (3).  Using exercise biochemistry as a foundation, this course will examine the responses and adaptations to physical exercise and /or inactivity, with special emphases on nutrition, energy metabolism, and endocrinology, and their relations to health. Prerequisites: BIOL 3020 and BIOL 3040.

BIOL 4470 Electron Microscopy (3).  A techniques-based course in the fundamentals of transmission and scanning electron microscopy. The theory of electron microscopy and related techniques will be covered in lectures and the labs will provide the practical skills required for tissue preparation, sectioning, microscope operation and photography.

BIOL 4480 Conservation Biology (3).  Fundamental principles of biodiversity maintenance through the management of ecosystems and populations. This course will examine conservation at the level of species, population, and ecosystems.

BIOL 4500 Introductory Endocrinology (3).  General principles of vertebrate endocrinology, including biochemistry, metabolism, cellular activity, and organismal and behavioral effect of systemic hormones and neurotransmitters.

BIOL 4510 Behavioral Endocrinology (3). The effects of hormones and neurotransmitters on reproductive, parental, aggressive, and social behavior; as well as on homeostasis, biological rhythms, learning, and mood. Introductory Endocrinology and Animal Behavior recommended but not required.

BIOL 4540 Human Cellular Physiology (3).  This course focuses on the cellular/molecular underpinnings and integration of human systems physiology, including the general principles of homeostasis, endocrinology, neurophysiology, muscle, cardiac, pulmonary and renal physiology including fluid and electrolyte balance. Prereqquisite:  BIOL 3020 and BIOL 3040.

BIOL 4550 Biology of Aging (3).  A review and discussion of the theories associated with aging with a survey of the mechanisms of aging and a discussion of age-related changes in animals and humans.

BIOL 4600 Developmental Biology (3).  This course explores the development of multicellular organisms from fertilization to the establishment of the adult body form. Topics include the key processes of animal embryogenesis, as well as the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control these developmental processes. Selected topics in plant development will also be considered. Textbook reading assignments will be supplemented by selected articles from the scientific literature. Prerequisites: BIOL 3020 or BIOL 3030.

BIOL 4610 Developmental Biology Lab (2).  This laboratory course is designed to supplement and reinforce material presented in BIOL 460 through observation and experimental manipulation of developing organisms. Living invertebrate and vertebrate model organisms will be used. Approximately two hours for observations will be required outside of scheduled lab times to be arranged at the mutual convenience of each student and the instructor. Co-requisite or Pre-requisite: BIOL 4600.


BIOL 4630 Foundations of Immunobiology (3).  The cellular and molecular basis of immune function. Topics include receptors on T, B, and antigen presenting cells, cytokine networking, complement, function of the major histocompatibility complex, hypersensitivity of the immune system, and infection by HIV.

BIOL 4640 General Microbiology (3).  General introduction to the diversity, bioenergetics, growth, genetics, and ecology of microorganisms. Special emphasis will be placed on molecular and genomic methods used in the characterization of microorganisms. Prerequisites: BIOL 3020 and 3040.

BIOL 4650 General Microbiology Laboratory (2).  Two two-hour laboratories per week. Basic techniques in handling bacteria, identifying microorganisms and investigating microbial growth and metabolism.

BIOL 4670 Population Biology (3).  This course covers theoretical and empirical investigations at the population level. Major topics include population and growth dynamics, population regulation, the evolution of life, histones, ecological interactions between populations, and the evolutionary ecology of populations.

BIOL 4680 Landscape Ecology (3).  This course will concentrate on the ecology and management of landscapes. Topics will include formation of spatial patterns, flux of materials and organisms across space, and natural and human-mediated disturbance; as well as the relevance of scale in identifying patterns and how it relates to management decisions. Case studies with relevance to state and federal lands will be covered. Prerequisite: BIOL 3400.

BIOL 4700 Molecular Biology (3).  A study of genes and genomes, and the processes that control their expression. Special emphasis will be placed on techniques used to analyze and manipulate nucleic acids and proteins, including bioinformatic approaches. Prerequisites: BIOL 3020 and BIOL 3030.

BIOL 4760 Plant Biochemistry (3).  A comparative survey of higher plant anabolic and catabolic processes. Topics include: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, polyketides, terpenoids, aromatics, tetrapyrroles and alkaloids. Prerequisites: Organic chemistry, and BIOL 3020, or an equivalent introductory biochemistry course.

BIOL 4800 Internship in Conservation (3).  Students will work with professional conservation/environmental biologists to get practical experience. Students may work with conservation biologists associated with the EPA, Missouri Conservation Department, Corps of Engineers, or private environmental consulting firms. Environmental problems treated within the framework of fundamental ecological principles. Prerequisite: BIOL 4480.

BIOL 4840 Senior Inquiry: Library Project and Thesis (1-3).  Permission of instructor required.

BIOL 4850 Senior Inquiry: Graduate Level Course (0).  Permission of Instructor, Chair, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate Dean required for registration in the graduate course. Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor, Chair, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate Dean required for registration in the graduate course.

BIOL 4880 Senior Inquiry: Research Project (1-3).  Permission of instructor required.

BIOL 4890 Senior Inquiry: Comprehensive Examination (0).  Permission of department chairperson required.

BIOL 4950 Senior Residency (0).  Required of all graduating seniors.

BIOL 4980 Advanced Independent Study (1-4).  Individual study and research. Permission of instructor required.

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