Spring 2008

Why Sex?

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-06


Ethan D. Clotfelter (Section 01)
Jill S. Miller (Section 01)


Perhaps no subject in biology is as troublesome (or as fraught with contradictions) as sex. Why should organisms devote so much of their time and energy to attracting mates, when they can reproduce much more efficiently by cloning themselves? Similarly, why not pass on all your genes, rather than just half? Darwin was among the first to realize that competition for mates is sometimes as important as competition for survival. Sex is an exceedingly powerful ecological and evolutionary force, responsible for generating a tremendous diversity of morphologies and behaviors. In this course, we will draw upon examples from microbes to mosses to mammals in order to address these most basic biological questions: Why did sex evolve and what are its consequences? Three hours of lecture and one hour of discussion. This course is for non-majors and will not count toward the Biology major. Second semester. Professors Clotfelter and Miller.