The Diversity of Life: An Introductory Lecture

Have you even wondered what students at a public university are taught in a general education biology class about the diversity of life?  I can’t promise that what I am going to share is typical but it is what over 100 students heard yesterday in my class.  Below I share a link to a recording (voice/PPT presentation) of my Friday lecture for my “Natural Science: Biology” class.  This is the introduction to the last quarter of my course in which we explore biological diversity.  By diversity, I don’t just mean the variety of major life forms but also variation within a species and the sources of that variation.

My class is a large – 170 students, if they all attended class though hopefully they will all listen to this recording – section of a non-majors general education course.  In this single-semester course I cover all of the major concepts of biology.  So I only have one or two lectures for each concept of biology.

The principle questions I will be addressing in the next three weeks in this course are:
How variable are life forms on Earth?
Are organisms the same or different than they were in the past?
How do we classify living things?
What is a species?
How is diversity maintained?
What is the origin of biological diversity?

I begin this lecture by talking about diversity of life, past and present, on Earth in general and then start to get into how we organize that diversity.

Follow this link for the presentation:

Below are a few slides from my presentation.





  1. This presentation was so much fun to listen to! Your students are fortunate to have someone who can present complex ideas in an engaging, understandable way. Thanks for sharing!


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