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BIO102L: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Ecology Lab

Unit 3: Natural Selection   The lecture portion of this course will have taught you a great deal about Darwin’s theory, the support it has garnered over time, and the kinds of selection and selective pressures that have been observed in nature.  This unit will let you examine the process of natural selection in a more hands-on fashion, by working with simulations and models and by learning about current scientific research that makes use of evolutionary understanding. 

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 6 hours to complete.

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Describe the process of natural selection and the factors involved in influencing selection. - Design studies that will allow you to (at least through comparison) answer questions about how various traits developed. - Design experiments that let you distinguish between natural and sexual selection.

3.1 Darwin’s Theory and Current Understandings   - Interactive Lab: Pearson Education: Scott Freeman and Jon Herron’s Evolutionary Analysis: “Darwinian Natural Selection” Link: Pearson Education: Scott Freeman and Jon Herron’s Evolutionary Analysis: “Darwinian Natural Selection” (PDF)
 
Instructions: First, click on the left-hand link labeled “Activities” and click on the EvoDots simulation.  Open and read the EvoDots tutorial (which will explain how the otherwise-cryptic simulation works), then download the EvoDots software. Run simulations for at least three generations, and run them for at least two of the three natural selection criteria (“size,” “speed,” and “visibility”).  Note that although the program controls the type of variation, you control the means of selection, as your swiftness and rapacity with your cursor will simulate the selection pressure of a predator.
           
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  • Assessment: Pearson Education: Scott Freeman and Jon Herron’s Evolutionary Analysis: “Darwinian Natural Selection” Link: Pearson Education: Scott Freeman and Jon Herron’s Evolutionary Analysis: “Darwinian Natural Selection” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the left-hand link labeled “Chapter Study Questions.”  Answer all questions, even if they do not refer directly to material covered in this course or lab.  Make sure that you write something in each of the short-answer boxes (only then will you be able to view the answer key).  When you are done, click on “submit answers for grading” to assess your answers and see the answer key.
               
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3.2 Current Evolutionary Research   3.2.1 Natural Selection   - Interactive Lab: McGraw Hill: Dr. George Johnson’s The Living World Virtual Labs: “Why Do Tropical Songbirds Lay Fewer Eggs?” Link: McGraw Hill: Dr.  George Johnson’s The Living World Virtual Labs: “Why Do Tropical Songbirds Lay Fewer Eggs?” (HTML, PDF)
 
Instructions: Please note that you will have to enable pop-ups from this web page in order to open the links.  First, click on the tab “explore the issue being investigated” and read the page in its entirety.  Next, click on the tab for the original research paper; you may choose whether or not to read the entire paper, but you must read the abstract (one paragraph).  If you do not read the entire paper, click on “gain an overview of the experiment” to read about the experimental methods and results.  Finally, click on “run a virtual experiment exploring the original paper”; although some of the “work” of this experiment is done for you, you will still have the opportunity to make your own observations and choose interpretations of the data.
 
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3.2.2 The Intersection of Natural and Sexual Selection   - Interactive Lab: McGraw Hill: Dr. George Johnson’s The Living World Virtual Labs: “Catching Evolution in Action” Link: McGraw Hill: Dr.  George Johnson’s The Living World Virtual Labs: “Catching Evolution in Action” (HTML, PDF)
 
Instructions: Please note that you will have to enable pop-ups from this web page in order to open the links.  First, click on the tab “explore the issue being investigated” and read the page in its entirety.  Next, click on the tab for the original research paper; you may choose whether or not to read the entire paper, but you must read the introduction (three paragraphs).  If you do not read the entire paper, click on “gain an overview of the experiment” to read about the experimental methods and results.  Finally, click on “run a virtual experiment exploring the original paper”; although some of the “work” of this experiment is done for you, you will still have the opportunity to make your own observations and choose interpretations of the data.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Interactive Lab: PBS’s Evolution: “Sex and the Single Guppy” Link: PBS’s Evolution: “Sex and the Single Guppy” (Shockwave)
     
    Instructions: Since you will have already read about John Endler’s research, you may choose to skip the introduction to this interactive exercise and click on the lower right-hand link to the “simulation.”  Here you will be able to create your own model environment, choosing the degree of predation pressure and the initial numbers of brightly colored guppies, to determine how this population will change over generations.  If you wish, you can also click on the lower-left-hand “Guppy Gallery” to see the wide natural color variation in guppies of this species along with their natural predators and habitats.
     
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