Course List


Course Number
Course Name
Typically Offered

Animal Biology

General biological principles. Topics include: evolution, ecology, animal behavior, cell structure and function, genetics and molecular genetics and the physiology of a variety of organ systems emphasizing function in humans.

Pre-Reqs: Not recommended for students with credit already in Zoology/Biology/Botany 151 or 152

Fall, Spring, Summer

Animal Biology Lab

General concepts of animal biology at an introductory level. The general body plans and strategies used to accomplish the basic tasks of staying alive of 9 major animal groups are studied using preserved and live animals. The diversity within each group of animals is studied by integrating the body plans with the lifestyle and ecology of the animals. The evolutionary relationships between the animals is a major part of the course. Dissections of earthworm, freshwater mussel,squid, sea star, and rat also aid the study of these general principles.

Pre-Reqs: Not recommended for students with credit already in Zoology/Biology/Botany 151/152

Fall, Spring, Summer

Introductory Biology

First semester of a two semester course designed for majors in biological sciences. Topics include: cell structure and function, cellular metabolism (enzymes, respiration, photosynthesis), information flow (DNA, RNA, protein), principles of genetics and selected topics in Animal Physiology. HS chem or concurrent registration in college chemistry strongly advised.

Pre-Reqs: Not recommended for students with credit already in Zoo/Bio 101, 102 or Botany/Bio 130

Fall, Spring, Summer

Introductory Biology

Second semester of a two semester course designed for majors in biological sciences. Continuation of 151. Topics include: selected topics in plant physiology, a survey of the five major kingdoms of organisms, speciation and evolutionary theory, and ecology at multiple levels of the biological hierarchy.

Pre-Reqs: Biology/Botany/Zoology 151. Not recommended for students with credit already in Zoology/Biology 101,102 or Botany/Biology 130

Fall, Spring

Introductory Biology

One-semester course designed for engineering majors including chemical and biological engineering. Meets with Zoology/Biology/Botany 151. Engineering students who need a biology course with a lab component should enroll in Zoology/biology/Botany 151. Topics include: cell structure and function, cellular metabolism (enzymes, respiration, photosynthesis), information flow (DNA, RNA, protein), principles of genetics, and selected topics in Animal Physiology. Concurrent registration in college chemistry strongly advised. Not recommended for students with credit already in Zoo/Bio 101, 102 or Botany/Bio 130.

Pre-Reqs: Enrollment in an undergrad engineering degree program

Fall, Spring


Heredity; genetics for students not specializing in life sciences; principles of heredity; current advances in genetics applied to humans, animals and plants with their impact on life sciences and society. Lectures and discussion.

Pre-Reqs: Crse open to all So; Open to Fr with cons inst; HS or college crse in biol recommended; not open to pre-med or sci major without cons inst


Directed Study

Recommended for Fr and So.

Pre-Reqs: Written cons inst. Open to Fr

Fall, Spring, Summer

Introductory Ecology

For nonbiology students: the relationships of organisms and the environment. Population dynamics and community organization, human-environment relationships, action programs.

Pre-Reqs: Open to Freshmen. Does not count toward Botany or Zoology major

Fall, Spring

Directed Studies in Zoology

Intermediate level directed study/independent research. The purpose of this course to introduce undergraduate students to research questions and, facilitate their learning in the field of biology by providing them with guidance and mentorship in a research environment.

Pre-Reqs: Need consent of instructor

Fall, Spring, Summer

Introduction to Entomology

Principles including morphology and classification; a general collection of insects required of each student.

Pre-Reqs: An elem course in zoology

Fall, Spring, Summer

Limnology- Conservation of Aquatic Resources

General limnology. Physical, chemical and biological characteristics and processes of lakes. Environmental problems and rehabilitation of lakes.

Pre-Reqs: Intro course in biol; intro course in chem recommended


Laboratory for Limnology

Biological, physical, and chemical characteristics and their interrelationships in Wisconsin lakes and streams.

Pre-Reqs: Zool 315 or con reg


Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues

An interdisciplinary approach to our complex and often contradictory relationships with non-human animals, including information about the nature, needs and behavior of human and non-human animals in relation to our personal and professional interactions with them.

Pre-Reqs: So st

Currently not offered


The biology of water-borne, food-borne, soil-borne and vector-borne parasites of animals including humans. Parasites are explored in the context of transmission, associated disease, diagnosis and treatment options, and environmental, cultural and socioeconomic drivers of disease epidemiology.

Pre-Reqs: Biology/Zoology 101 and 102, or Biology/Botany/Zoology 152 or Zoology 153, or Biocore 381


Extinction of Species

A comprehensive treatment of the ecology, causes, and consequences of species extinction. Ecology and problems of individual species, habitat alteration and degradation, socio-economic pressures and conservation techniques and strategies.

Pre-Reqs: So st. An intro biology course strongly recommended

Fall, Summer

Medical Entomology

Arthropods of medical and veterinary importance, how they affect their hosts and transmit diseases.

Pre-Reqs: Intro course in zool or vet sci

Alternating Fall

Topics Course (check class search for topics courses)

Subject matter, credits and prerequisites vary.

Pre-Reqs: Varies

Fall, Spring, Summer

Museum Studies

Provides an overview of natural history museums, including history, field collecting, specimen preparation, collection preservation, ethics, education and employment opportunities. At the same time, it introduces students to the natural science museums and library collections located on the UW campus.

Pre-Reqs: Open to Jr, Sr, Grads, Adv special stdts


Evolutionary Biology 

Evolutionary biology, emphasizing how modern scientists study evolution. Topics include: nature and mechanisms of microevolution, macroevolution, adaptation, speciation; systematics and taxonomy; quantitative genetics and measurement of natural selection; phylogenetic analyses of behavior, physiology, morphology, biochemistry; current controversies in evolution.

Pre-Reqs: An elem course in zool or botany & So st; Genetics/Botany/Zool 160 or 466 recommended


Behavioral Ecology

Designed to explore how organisms make decisions and how these decisions affect their survival. These decisions are key aspects of an organism?s life, e.g. foraging behavior, mating behavior, anti-predator behavior, and habitat selection. The course approaches these questions with the perspective that understanding the proximal and ultimate basis of behavior requires understanding the ecological and evolutionary context of behavior.

Pre-Reqs: Intro biology (Zoology/Botany 151 & 152 or Zoology 101 & Botany 130 or Biocore 381 & 382). Evolution, ecology, genetics recommended

Alternating Spring

Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates

Basic vertebrate anatomical systems and a consideration of variations, using functional embryological and evolutionary approaches. Lab dissection and study of representative vertebrate material. Two evening practical exams.

Pre-Reqs: Intro crse in zool & So st


General Ecology

Ecology of individual organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems, landscapes, and the biosphere. The interaction of organisms with each other and their physical environment. These relationships are studied, often in quantitative terms, in both field and laboratory settings; lecture and lab.

Pre-Reqs: Intro course in botany & zoology, or Bot/Zoo 151-152, or Biocore 301 or 333; for biol sci majors only

Fall, Spring, Summer

General Genetics

Genetics in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Includes Mendelian genetics, mapping, molecular genetics, genetic engineering, cytogenetics, quantitative genetics, and population genetics. Illustrative material includes viruses, bacteria, plants, fungi, insects, and humans. Students may not enroll for GENETICS 466 and GENETICS 467/468.

Pre-Reqs: (Biology/Botany/Zoology 151 or Biocore 381 or Biology/Botany 130 or Biology/Zoology 101 and 102) and (Chemistry 104 or Chemistry 109 or Chemistry 115)

Fall, Spring, Summer

Introduction to Animal Development

This course introduces students to the major features and mechanisms of early embryonic development in animals, including (1) the major stages of early development, (2) how form arises in the embryo (morphogenesis), (3) how differences arise between cells in the embryo, and (4) how specific genes control these processes.

Pre-Reqs: Zool 101 or Zool 151/152


Plant-Insect Interactions

Multiple ways in which arthropods exploit plants, plant traits that deter or augment insects, environmental mediation of these interactions, effects on population dynamics, community ecology and co-evolution, and implications to natural resource management, environmental quality, and sustainable development.

Pre-Reqs: One of the following: Bot/For/Zoo 460, Ent/Pl Path/For 500, Pl Path/Bot 505, Forestry 550, or Entom 342

Alternating Spring

Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar

Neurobiology seminar for undergraduates. A faculty lead lecture/discussion about a wide range of topics in neurobiology research from molecular neurobiology to integrative systems. Topics discussed by invited UW-Madison faculty researchers in any given semester can include: ion channels and synaptic plasticity, neural development, sensory and cognitive physiology, biological basis of behavioral disorders and cognitive decline.

Pre-Reqs: Declared in Neurobiology or Biology with the neurobiology option and Zoology/Psych/NTP 523 or concurrent enrollment

Fall, Spring

Modeling Animal Landscapes

This course uses computer and GIS-based modeling to explore how climate, topography, vegetation type, and key animal properties all interact to specify from first principles the energetgics and activity constraints of animals on any landscape. It links individual, population and community variables at landscape scales.

Pre-Reqs: Jr st

Alternating Spring

Ecology of Fishes

Interactions of fishes with their physical, chemical, and biotic environment; physiological ecology, community ecology and fisheries sciences. Lake Mendota perch fishery and Shedd Aquarium field trips.

Pre-Reqs: 1 yr biol & chem & Jr st


Ecology of Fishes Lab

Anatomy and taxonomy of Wisconsin fishes and projects in fish ecology.

Pre-Reqs: Zool 510 or con reg



Introduction to bird biology, ecology, and behavior. Topics include the evolutionary origin of birds and flight, anatomy and physiology, functional morphology, migration, communication, reproductive strategies, ecological adaptations and roles, and biogeographical patterns.

Pre-Reqs: Biology/Zoology 101 and 102, Biology/Botany/Zoology 151 and 152 or Biocore 381 and 382


Birds of Southern Wisconsin

Outdoor and indoor labs/lectures emphasizing identification of southern Wisconsin birds by sight and vocalization. Two required Saturday field trips in Southern Wisconsin.

Pre-Reqs: Biology/Zoology 101 and 102, Biology/Botany/Zoology 151 and 152 or Biocore 381 and 382



Basic mechanisms in cellular neurophysiology: electrophysiology and chemistry of nerve signals, mechanisms in integration, simple nervous pathways and their behavioral correlates. We highly recommend entering students have a strong background in the principles of basic electricity (charge, voltage, current, resistance, capacitance), as provided by Physics 104, 202, 208, or a strong high school physics program.

Pre-Reqs: (Zoology/Biology/Botany 151 or Zoology 101 or Biocore 485) AND (Chem 103/104 or Chemistry 109)


Neurobiology II: An Introduction to the Brain and Behavior

An introduction to studies of the human nervous system covering neuroanatomy of the brain, neuronal coding, sensory and motor systems, biological rhythms, arousal, attention, physiological regulation, reward, aversion, learning and memory.

Pre-Reqs: Zool 523, equiv crse in physiol, or cons inst


Insect Behavior

Comparative behavior of insects. Function and evolution.

Pre-Reqs: Entom 302 or equiv; Zool 330

Alternating Spring

Ecosystem Analysis

Introduction to current quantitative approaches for analyzing ecosystems. Includes hand-on experience with ecosystem modeling and parameter estimation.

Pre-Reqs: 1 yr calculus & a majors course in ecology; or Grad st

Alternating Spring

Theoretical Ecology

Introduction to theoretical ecology, including hands-on experience in computer modeling. For students with ecology background; does not require a strong math background. 3-credit option requires project and consent of instructor.

Pre-Reqs: 1 year calculus, Zoo/Bot 260, Zoo/Bot/For 460 or equiv, & Jr st

Alternating Fall


The evolutionary process as interpreted from the fossil record. Topics include: the study of form; tempo and mode of evolution; levels and mechanisms of evolutionary change; extinction in the fossil record; trends and patterns in the history of life; macroevolution.

Pre-Reqs: Geosci 304 or 540 or course in introductory biology

Alternating Fall

Invertebrate Paleontology

The evolutionary history, morphology, and ecology of fossil invertebrates. Labs emphasize fossil identification and recognition of basic morphological features.

Pre-Reqs: Geosci 107, 110, 204, or a course in introductory biology

Alternating Fall

Animal Communication and the Origin of Language

Signals, contexts, and mechanism of social communication in animals. Speech and non-verbal communication in human beings and possible arguments for the evolution of speech and language.

Pre-Reqs: Psych 449 or 450 or Zoology 531 or 532

Alternating Spring

Lab Developmental Biology

Developmental anatomy and laboratory manipulations of representative animal embryos used extensively for analysis of developmental phenomena (sea urchins, amphibia, annelids, molluscs, ascidians, insects, chicks, fish, mice).

Pre-reqs: Zoology 470 or Psych/Zoology 523 or Zoology 625 or Biocore 587 (or NTP 523 prior to Fall 2017)


Human Cytogenetics

Fundamental principles of cytogenetics and special problems of human cytogenetics for biology and medical students.

Pre-Reqs: Genetics/Bot/Zool 160 or 466 or Med Genet 721

Alternating Spring

Principles of Landscape Ecology

Landscape ecology emphasizes the importance of spatial patterns at broad scales. Concepts and applications are emphasized, especially for seniors and graduate students in applied natural resource fields. The course is also a prerequisite for Zoology/Forest Ecology 665, Advanced Landscape Ecology. Lecture format with discussion.

Pre-Reqs: Botany/Zoology/Forest 460, or Forest 550, a crse in stats, & cons inst

Alternating Spring

Cell Biology

Comprehensive course on modern aspects of cell biology.

Pre-Reqs: One yr college biol, one yr chem

Alternating Spring


An introduction to the role that hormones play in a variety of physiological processes and behaviors from a molecular to a systems level. Topics include hormonal involvement in growth, development, homeostasis, reproduction, and behavior, with an emphasis on vertebrate systems.

Pre-Reqs: Background in biochem & cell-molecular biol recommended, but not required

Fall (Even Years)

Genes and Disorders Lab

In recent years, a large number of open access biological and biomedical databases have become available for on-line, computer based research. Among these databases are the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Allen Brain Atlas, NIH DAVID, Genemania, ToppClusterPhenopedia, GeneNetwork, GWAS Central, and Broad Institute's MSIgDB. Within these and other sites is a wealth of information regarding genes, gene expression, gene pathways, behavioral characteristics, and disorders or diseases, such as autism, arthritis, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Learning to navigate the various sites to take advantage of the information and push scientific discovery forward is a valuable skill to develop for any student interested in a career in science or medicine. In the early part of this laboratory course, students will be guided through a range of databases and shown how to extract information to develop new ideas. A key part of the course is that each student will pick a disease or disorder of interest (e.g., autism, arthritis, epilepsy, schizophrenia) and use multiple databases to develop new ideas on which genes may be playing important, but previously underappreciated or unknown roles.

Pre-Reqs: Biology/Zoology 101 OR Biology/Botany/Zoology 151 OR Biocore 381


Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology

Course examines general physiological principles by comparing taxa from diverse evolutionary histories and ecological adaptations. Examples include adaptation to environments differing in salinity, temperatue, altitude, pressure, or pollution, and examines how nervous and endocrine systems evolved to support the adaptations.

Pre-Reqs: Elem crse in Botany or Zoology

Currently not offered

Comparative Physiology Laboratory

Recommended for majors.

Pre-Reqs: Zool 611 or con reg


Neurobiology and Behavior Lab

Students will do three independent experimental modules exploring neurophysiology and behavior, each taking 4-5 weeks. Students will work in groups of 2 or 3 and will learn techniques and then develop their own short investigations into each of three separate areas of neurobiology. There will be continual interaction between students and faculty.

Pre-Reqs: Zoology/Psych/NTP 523 and NTP/Physio /Psych/Zoology 524 or NTP/Phmcol-M/Physiol 610 and Anatomy/NTP/Phmcol-M/Physiol/Psych 611


Biology of Mind

Origins and structures of mind, brain, and consciousness. Transitions from early mammalian through primate to hominid intelligence. Genetics and plasticity in brain development. Modern studies of human brain mechanisms and consciousness.

Pre-Reqs: Jr st; college level elem crse in biology or psych


Molecular Ecology

Basic principles of molecular ecology. Lecture topics include population genetics, molecular phylogenetics, rates and patterns of evolution, genome evolution, and molecular ecology.

Pre-Reqs: Botany/Genetics/Zoology 466, Genetics 467 or Biocore 383 or graduate student standing


Development of the Nervous System

Survey of the principles guiding neuronal development. Course will cover descriptive and experimental analyses of developmental mechanisms underlying the formation of both vertebrate and invertebrate nervous systems.

Pre-Reqs: One intermed level crse in biol; background in development & neurobiol recommended

Alternating Spring

Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms

Lecture-discussion. Comprehensive coverage of human hormones, growth factors and other mediators; emphasis on hormone action and biosynthesis, cell biology of hormone-producing cells.

Pre-Reqs: Intro biochem (Biochem 501 or 507 & 508) & cell biology (Biocore 303 or Zool 570 or Path750) or cons inst

Alternating Fall

Neurobiology of Disease

Seminar course relating major categories of human neurological and opthalmological disease to fundamental topics in neurobiology.

Pre-Reqs: Zool/Neurosci 523 & 524 or cons inst

Alternating Fall

Conservation Biology

Application of ecological principles and human dimensions to the conservation of biological diversity. Topics: biodiversity science; conservation planning; population ecology; habitat loss, species exploitation, invasive species, pollution; human attitudes and activities as they affect the biosphere; approaches to monitoring interventions.

Pre-Reqs: An ecology crse (eg, Botany/Zoology 460)


Climate Change Ecology

The evidence that the Earth's climate is changing at unprecedented rates is now overwhelming. Environmental tipping points are being crossed and many species are adapting or failing to adapt. Climate change poses a significant problem for conserving and managing wildlife and their habitats. In this class, students will be introduced to climate change and its ecological impacts through engaging class discussions, online climate exercises, and group projects aimed at developing climate change adaptation plans.

Pre-Reqs: Junior or Senior standing as a Forest Science or Wildlife Ecology major; graduate student standing; F&W Ecol/Zoology/Botany 460; or consent of instructor


Historical Ecology

Historical Ecology is an area of ecology that considers the importance of past events for current ecosystems. Concepts and applications are emphasized. Multidisciplinary emphasis, for seniors and graduate students in biological sciences, social studies, and humanities. Discussion format.

Pre-Reqs: Graduate or senior standing and consent of instructor


Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Seminar

Behavior results from a complex interplay among hormones, the brain, and environmental factors. Behaviors and their underlying neural substrates have evolved in response to specific environmental conditions, resulting in vast species diversity in behavioral and neuroendocrine solutions to environmental problems. This seminar is designed to explore the primary literature on the neuroendocrine underpinnings of behavior spanning from feeding to sex differences in complex social behaviors. A range of taxonomic groups will be discussed, including (but not limited to) mammals, birds, and fish. A background in neuroscience and/or endocrinology is strongly recommended.

Pre-Reqs: Biology/Zoology 101 or Biology/Botany/Zoology 151 or Biocore 383

Alternating Fall
677 Internship in Ecology Currently not offered
681 Senior Honors Thesis Fall, Spring, Summer
682 Senior Honors Thesis Fall, Spring, Summer
691 Senior Thesis Fall, Spring, Summer
692 Senior Thesis Fall, Spring, Summer
698 Directed Study Fall, Spring, Summer
699 Directed Studies in Zoology Fall, Spring, Summer

Ecosystem Concepts

Scope and objectives of ecosystem ecology; roles of theory, long-term studies, comparative studies, and large-scale experiments; scaling problems; ecosystem services and ecological economics; adaptive ecosystem assessment and management.

Pre-Reqs: Grad st. Experience in modeling, programming, or stats

Alternating Spring

Problems in Oceanography

Introduction to techniques used in the study of the biology, chemistry, geology, and physics of the marine environment.

Pre-Reqs: Cons inst


Developmental Neuroscience

Analysis of neural development with emphasis on experimental approaches. Combination of lectures and discussions of primary literature. Topics include neural induction, patterning, mechanisms of axon guidance, neural crest cell migration and differentiation, cortical development, and synapse formation and elimination.

Pre-Reqs: Grad st in biol sci; undergrads with cons inst


Foundations of Evolution

Through reading and analysis of the primary literature, this course will explore some of the most important themes and debates that have permeated evolutionary biology over the last 50 years. Students will read key papers related to each controversial topic, will debate the pros and cons of competing viewpoints, and will reflect on the relevance of the issues to contemporary evolutionary biology. Students will also write a paper that analyzes one topic in more detail. This course is intended for graduate students who plan to specialize in evolutionary biology, broadly construed.

Pre-Reqs: Graduate or professional standing


Advanced Landscape Ecology

Landscape ecology emphasizes spatial patterning--its development and importance for ecological processes--and often focuses on large regions. Concepts, methods, and applications of landscape ecology will be learned through lectures, readings, exercises in quantitative approaches, and an independent project.

Pre-Reqs: Grad st & cons inst


Oceanography and Limnology Seminar

Pre-Reqs: Grad st in limnology & marine sci grad prgm or cons inst


Interdisciplinary Seminar in Animal Behavior

Research methods in animal behavior studies in many disciplines.

Pre-Reqs: Grad st


Introduction to Ecology Research

This seminar course will introduce new graduate students to the diversity of ecologists across the UW-Madison campus. Course meetings will include discussions of key topics in professional development, research presentations by faculty members, and discussions of assigned papers with senior graduate students.

954 Seminar in Endocrinology-Reproductive Physiology
955 Seminar-Limnology
956 Seminar-Ecology
957 Ecology & Evolution
960 Seminar in Cellular Biology
962 Behavior, Brain, and Evolution Seminar
965 Seminar in Developmental Biology
969 Colloquium on Teaching College Biology
990 Research