Biology – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Major Guide for 2013-2014

What is Biology – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology?

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) concentration of the Biological Sciences major is designed for students interested in pursuing careers that require a better understanding of our natural world. Through formal classes and research experiences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology provides students with first-hand knowledge of modern science in our field — from conservation biology, to animal behavior, to ecological genetics, to systematics, to evolutionary development, to computational and theoretical biology, to community, ecosystems, and climate change ecology. Because of the breadth of this discipline, EEB provides its majors examples of specific tracts or emphases that they might follow (e.g., pre med) at our web page.

The faculty associated with the EEB concentration is a mix of internationally known senior researchers and energetic junior faculty at the cutting edges of their fields. Our interests range from mathematical ecology through evolutionary genetics to field studies of behavior and ecology. Our faculty members are eager to involve our majors in research so they can get first-hand knowledge of modern science in our various sub-disciplines. These experiences might lead our students to choose a career in ecology and evolutionary biology; it will definitely provide them with valuable credentials for many other career goals. We have an undergraduate student club and special funds in the department to provide financial support for supplies and travel to undergraduate students who are pursuing independent study projects in our  labs. Our students may also complete an honors program in this concentration. Check out our web site and list of faculty to see all of the diverse options available for research with our faculty: If you would like to discuss this concentration of the Biological Sciences major with a faculty member, please contact Dr. Small, EEB Undergraduate Committee Chair or Dr. McCracken, EEB Department Head, who will be glad to talk with you about options.

Career Opportunities in Biology – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The goal of the EEB concentration is to provide students with the necessary intellectual and technological tools to access and succeed in a wide variety of careers. Students who major in EEB have career opportunities that include fields such as conservation and natural resource management, teaching, employment at government agencies and parks, biotechnology, and pursuit of advanced training in graduate school.  Career options might also include working in environmental consulting and non-profits, in zoos and in natural history museums.  Many recent EEB graduates have gone on to graduate school for a MS or PhD, or entered veterinary or medical school.

Requirements for Biology – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Prerequisite courses (required for all biological sciences concentrations)

  • Chemistry 120 & 130 General Chemistry (4, 4)
  • Physics 221 & 222 Elements of Physics (4, 4)
  • Math 141 & 142 Calculus I, II (4, 4), or Math 151 & 152 Mathematics for the Life Sciences I, II (3, 3)
    Note that Math 141-142 is recommended for students with a strong interest in quantitative ecology and is prerequisite to several courses that satisfy the EEB Quantitative Requirement.
  • Biology 130 Biodiversity (4), or Biology 111 & 112 General Botany (4, 4)
  • Biology 140 Organization and Function of the Cell (4), Biology 240 General Genetics (4), and Biology 250 General Ecology (4)

The EEB concentration consists of 33 hours:

  • A total of 24 hours is required at the 300 level or above. Fifteen of these hours must be EEB courses, (EEB 304, EEB 305, EEB 413 are not allowed for credit in the concentration) including one course from each of the following categories. Other courses, related to the student’s determined interests, may be approved by petition to the department and the division. Courses applied to the major must include at least 4 hours at the 400-level and one laboratory or field course. * indicates courses with lab or field component.
    A. Evolution (select one):

    • EEB 426 – Plant-Animal Interactions
    • EEB 460 – Evolution
    • EEB 462 – Paleoecology
    • EEB 464 – Macroevolution
    • EEB 495 – Evolutionary Ecology

    B. Ecology (select one):

    • EEB 421 – Community Ecology
    • EEB 433 – Plant Ecology *
    • EEB 470 – Aquatic Ecology *
    • EEB 484 – Conservation Biology
    • MICR 470 – Microbial Ecology

    C. Organismal Biology (select one):

    • EEB 330 – Field Botany
    • EEB 351 – Biodiversity of Fungi *
    • EEB 414 – Plant Anatomy
    • EEB 450 – Comparative Animal Behavior
    • EEB 459 – Comparative Animal Behavior Laboratory *
    • EEB 461 – Special Topics in Organismal Biology *
    • EEB 473 – Herpetology *
    • EEB 474 – Ichthyology *

    D. Physiology/Chemical Ecology (select one):

    • BCMB 321 – Introductory Plant Physiology
    • BCMB 415 – Foundations in Neurobiology
    • BCMB 416 – Neurobiology Laboratory *
    • BCMB 419 – Cellular and Comparative Biochemistry Laboratory *
    • BCMB 440 – General Physiology
    • CHEM 360 – Organic Chemistry II
    • CHEM 369 – Organic Chemistry Laboratory *
    • EEB 404 – Ecosystem Ecology
    • EEB 405 – Ecosystem Ecology Laboratory
    • EEB 463 – Plant Ecophysiology *
    • MICR 310 – Introduction to Microbiology
    • MICR 319 – Introductory Microbiology Laboratory *
    • NUTR 311 – Physiological Chemistry *

    IV. Remaining Hours

    • any other upper-division EEB courses or
    • ANSC 340 – Animal Breeding and Genetics
    • ANTH 464 – Principles of Zooarchaeology
    • ANTH 490 – Primate Evolution
    • ANTH 494 – Primate Behavior
    • ANTH 496 – Biology of Human Variability
    • BCMB 330 – Mechanisms of Development
    • BCMB 419 – Cellular and Comparative Biochemistry Laboratory
    • GEOG 334 – Meteorology
    • GEOG 411 – Introduction to Geographic Information Science
    • GEOG 434 – Climatology
    • GEOG 435 – Biogeography
    • GEOG 436 – Water Resources
    • GEOG 439 – Plant Geography of North America
    • GEOL 320 – Paleobiology
    • MICR 470 – Microbial Ecology
    • WFS 440 – Wildlife Techniques
    • WFS 442 – Fisheries Techniques
    • WFS 443 – Fisheries Science
    • WFS 444 – Ecology and Management of Wild Mammals
    • WFS 445 – Ecology and Management of Wild Birds

    Honors Option

    Requirements for the honors option are:

    • fulfill all requirements for the major in biological sciences with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology
    • achieve at least a grade of B in the individual concentration courses
    • maintain a concentration GPA of at least 3.5
    • maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.25
    • complete 9 hours of honors-by-contract coursework in upper division level ecology and evolutionary biology courses available for major credit in the concentration, including at least one course from EEB 400 and EEB 493.
    • complete EEB 407 Senior Honors Thesis with thesis to be approved by student’s committee consisting of a thesis advisor and two additional ecology and evolutionary biology faculty members.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad. Studying abroad options do exist for science majors! Possibilities include (but are not limited to) studying parasitology in Botswana, environmental chemistry in Fiji, igneous petrology in Iceland, or particle accelerator physics in London. In addition to taking science courses abroad, many science majors have elected to fulfill their language requirement and/or general education courses overseas.

Consult an academic advisor early in your academic career about the best time for you to study abroad as well as what courses you may need to take. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

Gary McCracken, Ph.D.
Department Head
569 Dabney Hall
(865) 974-3065


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.