cod. 12882

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - First semester
- Paola Maria VALSECCHI
Academic discipline
Zoologia (BIO/05)
Discipline biologiche e genetiche vegetali ed animali
Type of training activity
40 hours
of face-to-face activities
3 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Integrated course unit module: HISTOLOGY EMBRYOLOGY ZOOLOGY

Learning objectives

The Zoology course is part of the Integrated Course on Histology, Embryology and Zoology. The module aims at enabling the student to: 1: know and understand basic theoretical elements of biology, evolution and taxonomy and principles of eco-ethology; 2: knowledge and understanding applied in recognition of morphological and functional characteristics of invertebrate and vertebrate taxa of veterinary interest; 3: making judgements on scientific valence on modern evolution theories; 4: communication skills to illustrate the most striking features of animal taxa; 5: learning skills through the use of the textbook and discussion with the teacher.


Basic biology knowledge as required by rule of admittance test. Any debt (OFA) will be settled with a 2 hr class followed by an oral examination concerning the arguments explained.

Course unit content

The course provides basic knowledge to the understand the complexity and diversity of the animal world and leads students through the evolutionary processes that characterize it. The first part concerns basic animal biology topics such as: origin and evolution of life on Earth, Evolution theory, microevolution, structures e functions in animals. The second part of the course is directed to the study of the systematic and evolution of the most important animal taxa from a veterinary point of view. In the third part of the course elements of ethology and animal’s domestication are presented.

Full programme


During the first class, information about the program, the aims of the Course and the examination methods will be proved. Information on the teaching materials available for the students as well as a list of suggested text books will be provided.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF ANIMAL BIOLOGY. The study of Life. The unifying themes of Life Sciences. Zoology as a part of Biology. Zoology as a scientific process.
DD: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE: The pre-biotic world. From the molecules to the organisms. The emergence of eukaryotes. The origin and evolution of animals.
DD: Knowledge and understanding

EVOLUTION: The idea of evolution: historical background. The theory of Darwin and evidences supporting it. The meaning of “theory” in the scientific thinking. The evolution of populations and the forces of evolution. Microevolution. Speciation and mechanism of reproductive isolation. Macroevolution.
DD: Knowledge and understanding; making judgements; applying knowledge and understanding
POPULATION GENETICS: allelic frequencies and genotype frequencies, equilibrium of Hardy-Weinberg. Evolutionary forces: mutation, migration, natural selection and genetic drift, balanced polymorphism. DD: Knowledge and understanding skills; Autonomy of judgment; Knowledge and understanding skills applied

EVOLUTION AND SYSTEMATIC. Species: concept of species, reproductive barriers, models of specialization, (sympathetic, parapatric, allopathic). Phylogenetic reconstruction and biological classification: concept of homology and the like, phylogenetic analysis to establish relationships between taxa on a morphological or molecular basis; The concept of structural plan. DD: Knowledge and understanding skills; Autonomy of judgment; Knowledge and understanding skills applied.

MAIN PHYLA: with focus on those of veterinary interest: Porphera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Acanthocephala, Annelida, Mollusca, Arthropod, Echinodermata, Chordata. DD: Knowledge and understanding skills; Knowledge and understanding skills applied.

BASIC ELEMENTS OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR. Reflexes. Fixed action patterns, Innate and acquired behavior. Classical and instrumental conditioning. Genetics of behavior, evolution and domestication. Social and reproductive behavior. Communication. Social and reproductive systems. Stress, welfare and abnormal behaviors. DD: Knowledge and understanding skills; Autonomy of judgment; Knowledge and understanding skills applied


Zoologia di Casiraghi et al., UTET Università 2018
Attenti ai Cani – Paola Valsecchi –
Non dire gatto - Paola Valsecchi- Edizioni il Mulino
Students can find the pdf slides showed in class on the Elly platform. The slides should be used EXCLUSIVELY to keep track of the topics covered in class and DO NOT REPLACE the textbook

Teaching methods

The lectures take place illustrating general concepts that are detailed with examples of animal taxa of veterinary interest. The lectures are held using PowerPoint presentations that are made available to students on the ELLY site. Practical exercises include: video analysis of animal behavior and a visit to the Museum of Natural History in Milan

Assessment methods and criteria

Written examination consisting of 14 multiple choice questions and 2 open questions to verify the capacity of the student to tackle problems of zoology using the methodological principles and knowledge acquired during the course; For students with DSA certified according to Law 170/2010, there are appropriate support methods.

Other information

Information on the content of the course (see below) are associated with the relative "Dublin Indicators" (DD) that characterize their purposes.
Dublin Descritpors:
- Knowledge and understanding;
- Applying knowledge and understanding;
- Making judgements;
- Communication skills;
- Learning skills.