Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 2 x 1 hour lectures per week
Practical 2 x 3 hour practicals, duplicated for split groups


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment of practicals  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   70%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Examination plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module the student will

  • be able to interrelate invertebrate form, function and adaptation
  • be able to assess critically the main theories concerned with invertebrate origin and evolution
  • be capable of handling invertebrate material and be equipped with the basic skills of dissection.

Brief description


This module builds on Module BS10710 - Introduction to Invertebrate Zoology - by introducing the student to a range of specialist topics which draw on examples from the phyla studied in Level 1.


The module begins with lectures on the invertebrate nervous system. The physiology, development and evolution of the system in the different phyla are investigated in relation to sense organs and effectors. The different classes of neurons are described and transmission between neurons and about the body is discussed. The development of nerve nets, ganglia and brains is considered, along with the importance of invertebrate studies in neurophysiology.
Lectures on invertebrate locomotion consider the basic principles involved, the effect of size, and the physical properties of muscle and skeletal material. The function of hydrostatic skeletons is discussed in relation to peristaltic and serpentine locomotion in annelids and this leads to a consideration of the high pressure pseudocoelom of nematodes and their unique body wall structure. Locomotion in soft bodied invertebrates is concluded with discussion of jet propulsion, gliding and flotation in molluscs. The function of the jointed arthropod skeleton is illustrated with a comparison of the mechanisms involved in the jump of the flea and the spider.
A series of lectures on invertebrate feeding mechanisms discusses structural adaptations and the behaviour employed by a range of species, with particular emphasis on foraging strategies. The four principal trophic categories considered are carnivory, herbivory, deposit and suspension feeding, and food-based mutualism.
Lectures on reproduction and life history strategies discuss the relative merits of asexual and sexual reproduction, the distribution of both patterns among invertebrate groups and mechanisms of sex determination. The lectures also describe the sequence of events leading to reproduction, the timing of reproduction and the allocation of resources to reproduction within invertebrate life histories. Other topics discussed in this section include a brief comparison of the life-history patterns of individual and colonial species of invertebrates.
The course concludes with three lectures on invertebrate phylogeny which take the form of a critical assessment of the evidence put forward to support the main theories and draws on the knowledge acquired in both Level 1 and Level 2 modules.

Practical classes are designed to develop further the main theories established in the lectures and involve a limited number of dissections.

Reading List

Multiple Copies In Hugh Owen
Barnes, R.S.K., Calow, P. Olive, P.J.W. (1993) The invertebrates: a new synthesis Oxford: Blackwell Science Primo search Pechenik, J.A. (1996) Biology of invertebrates 3rd London: W.C. Brown Primo search Ruppert, E.E. & Barnes, R.D. (1994) Invertebrate zoology 6th Saunders college Publishing Primo search
Reference Text
Alexander, R.M. (1990) Animals Cambridge University Press Primo search Willmer, P. (1990) Invertebrate relationships Cambridge University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5