For course description and prerequisites, please refer to the Department of Environmental Biology course calender.

For the information on the current or upcoming term, please refer to the Department of Environmental Biology course outline.

A few FAQs:


“What do I have to know for the Insect Diversity and Biology exam?”


It is tempting to answer this frequently asked question with one word (“everything”) but in fact, as every good student knows, lectures always contain a mixture of core ideas/facts and extra material that puts the core in perspective and (hopefully) makes it more interesting. The “core” for 309 is an overview of the dominant groups of insects including their life cycles, behavior, and interactions with other vertebrates (including us). Everything discussed in lecture is of potential value in writing an exam, but every effort will be made to design questions that do not demand knowledge of minor groups of insects. For example, you should expect to answer direct questions about the Reduviidae, a group we discussed at length, but you are unlikely to be directly questioned about Aradidae or Mesoveliidae. You would, however, be well served by knowing about the latter two groups if you are asked general questions about fungus-eating insects, insects under bark, insects associated with old-growth forest, wing dimorphism, or water surface communities (although such questions could also be answered perfectly well without knowing anything about those particular families of bugs).


“Do I have to know scientific names?”


Yes, you must recognize any scientific name used in the lecture if the name is used in a question. As discussed above, you are unlikely to be called upon to recognize the names of minor families, and questions will normally include common names for most groups. Still, I would advise you to know all the ordinal names and the family names for the larger and more important families. Both scientific and common names are equally acceptable in your answers.


What form will the questions take?”


309 exams normally use a mixture of the following sorts of questions:


Short answer questions (discuss the biology of Acrididae, compare mating in dragonflies, mayflies and springtails, compare respiration in aquatic Hemiptera and Ephemeroptera, discuss mechanisms and reasons for sound production in three groups of insects, provide the life cycle of this or that, etc). Pay attention to the number of marks allocated to the question, and do not waste paper on the obvious (i.e., if asked for life history details, then simply saying “egg-nymph-adult” is not adequate) or the spurious (i.e., if asked to discuss sound production don’t bother to display your great knowledge of oviposition strategies). Point form is acceptable unless specifically prohibited (i.e., “discuss alternative classification systems for the Hemiptera, do not use point form”).


Fill in the blanks. (For example: The insects that carry Chagas’ disease are called____________________, and although this disease is most important in ________________countries, it also occurs sporadically in North America where the main wildlife reservoir is ___________________.)


Short definitions or one word answers. (i.e., “what is a subimago?”, name an insect associated with the following phenomenon or structure, etc. ).


“Can you recommend any reading other than the notes?”

I would read over the introductory material and appropriate sections (information on the orders covered) in “Insects of Algonquin Park”, and/or review the same orders in one of the recommended textbooks (or in any one of about 50 general entomology books in the library). “Insects – their Natural History and Diversity”, published in the spring of 2006, was written specifically for this course and is recommended reading.