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These notes explain how to run the ‘Highlighting Important Stages in Evolution’ activity ... - page 8 / 11





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The classification of living organisms into five kingdoms: Prokaryotae, Protoctista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia. The distinguishing characteristics of each kingdom. This hierarchy should be illustrated with reference to the classification of familiar organisms. Candidates will not be expected to recall classification of individual organisms.


Learning outcomes

Candidates should be able to:

(a) describe the important features of the five kingdoms

(b) explain the meaning of the term species

(c) describe the classification of species into taxonomic groups (genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom), and appreciate the significance of the various concepts of the species

(d) explain the relationship between classification and phylogeny

(e) explain how natural selection may bring about evolution

(f) explain why variation is important in selection

(g) explain how all organisms can potentially overproduce

(h) explain, with examples, how environmental factors can act as stabilising or evolutionary forces of natural selection

(i) describe the processes which affect allele frequencies in populations (The Hardy-Weinberg principle is not required.)

(j) explain the role of isolating mechanisms in the evolution of new species

(k) outline, with examples, structural and physiological adaptations of organisms to their environment.


All organisms are related through their evolutionary history.  

(a) Biodiversity is the number of different organisms on the planet. Biodiversity varies spatially and over time.   

(b) Biodiversity has been generated through natural selection and adaptation over millions of years. Adaptive radiation e.g. Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos.*

(c) Organisms are classified into groups based on their evolutionary relationships. Classification places organisms into discrete and hierarchical groups with other closely related species. The need for classification and its tentative nature. Characteristic features of kingdoms: Prokaryotae, Protoctista, Plantae, Fungi, Animalia.*

(d) Animal biodiversity is classified into over 20 major phyla and several minor ones with each phylum containing organisms based on a basic blueprint. Basic features of: Annelids, Arthropods, Chordates. Arthropods are subdivided into four groups (details not required). Some phyla contain many more species than others.*

(e) Physical features and biochemical methods can be used to assess the relatedness of organisms. DNA ‘genetic fingerprinting’ and enzyme studies show relatedness without the problem of morphological convergence.*

(f) All organisms are named according to the Binomial system. The species concept.

Suggested practical activities: Observation of examples from different groups.  


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