Accueil > Biodiversity


Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies


Any condition relating to prior knowledge in this area is required.

Course Description

The general goal of this course is to provide students with a historical vision of concepts linked to Biodiversity leading to the analysis of contemporary issues and debates. Biology is the main field of concern of this course including theory of evolution, ecology, genetics, but also the social, philosophical and moral dimensions of biology issues. The course starts with a presentation of elementary notions and various approaches of biodiversity. Lectures subsequently address both the well-established hypotheses as well as questions remaining open for scientific debates and current controversies. Eventually, the social consequences of these scientific core issues and research are be discusses especially concerning human diversity (e.g. eugenism) and domestic species (e.g. GMOs) or wild species (e.g. conservation).


GOUYON, Pierre Henri (directeur de recherche CNRS au MNHN)

Pedagogical format

Cours magistraux avec discussions incluses, particulièrement à la fin des chapitres invoquant l'action humaine (aussi bien sur l'Homme que sur les autres espèces). Course outline to be added in English version soon.

Course validation

A set of questions on the understanding of the course content will be submitted to the students at the end of the semester. The exam will last for 2 hours (50% of the final grade). Towards the end of the semester the students (in groups of 2 or 3) will be asked to read and analyse an article or a chapter. They will deliver a reading note to the professor (50% of the final grade).

Required reading

  • Students are asked to read the required articles, chapters, books according to the professor's instruction
  • Robert Barbault : Un éléphant dans un jeu de quilles - L'Homme et la Biodiversité, Ed : Seuil (essai) 01/2006
  • Pierre-Henri Gouyon, Jean-Pierre Henry & Jacques Arnould : Gene Avatars. The Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution, Kluwer academic publishers, 2002

Additional required reading

  • French translation available online
  • Edgar O. Wilson : Biodiversity, 1988 ( )
  • Charles Darwin : On the Origin of Species, 1859 (English version available online)

Plans de cours et bibliographies

  • Lecture 1: The Biodiversity concept: historical insights
  • Lecture 2: The Darwinian revolution: system dynamics
  • Lecture 3: Diversity between individuals: Genetics
  • Lecture 4: The NeoDarwinian synthesis: Environment, genes, epigenesis
  • Lecture 5: Reproductive systems, speciation
  • Lecture 6: Ecological Genetics, Metapopulation concept
  • Lecture 7: Genomic diversity, phylogeny, chance, necessity, constraints.
  • Lecture 8: Diversity of organisms and information. Functionalism vs. Structuralism
  • Lecture 9: The Red Queen: population dynamics, competition, predation, parasitism
  • Lecture 10: Behavioural diversity, kin selection, game theory, sociality
  • Lecture 11: Coevolution: symbiosis, mutualism, interaction between species
  • Lecture 12: Biodiversity & Progress: biotechnology, agronomy and medicine

Biographical information

Pierre-Henri Gouyon is a professor at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (since  2005), at AgroParisTech (since 1988), at Sciences Po (since 2009) and realizes his research within the team of botany in the UMR MNHN-CNRS OSEB (7205). He had different responsibilities at the CNRS (Scientific deputy director in 2000-2001).He gives numerous conferences regarding questions on evolution biodiversity, bioethics, genetic, ecology. His interests are more particularly focused on social consequences of neo-Darwinian theory of the evolution and on the other hand the culture of transgenic plants.