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Barbara A. Holzman, Ph.D.
, http://online.sfsu.edu/bholzman/ ,
Barbara A. Holzman, Ph.D.

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This geography course is an example of an Earth history course which stresses not only evolution, but evolutionary forces like migration, and the role they have played in shaping modern animal and plant distributions.

From the syllabus: Biogeography is concerned with the distribution, ranges and limits of plants and animals. It overlaps several disciplines. Consequently the field is extremely broad and includes biologists, botanists, paleontologists, geographers, and zoologists to name a few. It follows that there are several approaches to biogeography, each with its own philosophy and methodology. In this course, the emphasis will be on ecological and historical themes, the changing patterns of plant and animal distribution in space and time.

Course Context:

This is a geography course intended to follow after geography 101.

Course Goals:

During this course, students will:
  • Gain an apprectiation for the factors which determine the distribution of plants and animals
  • Keep a journal
  • Research a paper
  • Present their research through public speaking and web page design

Course Content:

This course covers distribution of plant and animal species (especially in California) and factors that determine those distributions, such as physical geography, climate, and human activity. Units on climate change and the Quaternary involve studies of past biogeography.

Teaching Materials:

This web site contains:
  • Syllabus with a schedule
  • Review sheets
  • Biogeography Project Assignment - Blank
  • An impressive library of past projects, describing dozens of species found in California


Grading is based on exams, quizzes, a journal, a final project, labs, assignments, and participation.

References and Notes:

The publisher asks $90 for the text (MacDonald, G. 2003. Biogeography: Introduction to Space, Time, and Life. J. Wiley. ISBN: 0-471-24193-8) and gives the following description: The goal of biogeography is to build an understanding of biogeography as a unified science studying how environment, space and time interact to control the large-scale distribution of organisms. This title includes the key concepts related to the study of vegetation and animal distributions and the human impact on these distributions.