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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

Lesson summary for:
Using trees to understand plants: The work of Chelsea Specht

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Overview:
This research profile follows scientist Chelsea Specht as she pieces together the evolutionary history of tropical plants and their pollinators--and in the process, tries to figure out how to conserve endangered species.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
30 minutes

Teaching tips:
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topics of classification and plant reproduction (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). This research profile includes an animation of the evolution of flower shape, as well as discussion and essay questions that can be assigned to students. Get tips for using research profiles in your classroom.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • There is a fit between the form of a trait and its function, though not always a perfect fit.

  • Similarities among existing organisms (including morphological, developmental, and molecular similarities) reflect common ancestry and provide evidence for evolution.

  • Not all similar traits are homologous; some are the result of convergent evolution.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • Natural selection and genetic drift act on the variation that exists in a population.

  • Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations.

  • Occupying new environments can provide new selection pressures and new opportunities, leading to speciation.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence.

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.

  • Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations.

  • Science is a human endeavor.

  • Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.

  • Classification is based on evolutionary relationships.

  • Scientists use multiple lines of evidence (including morphological, developmental, and molecular evidence) to infer the relatedness of taxa.

  • Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.

  • Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.

  • The principle of parsimony suggests that the phylogenetic hypothesis most likely to be true is the one requiring the fewest evolutionary changes.

Teacher background:

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