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Lesson summary for:
Sound trees

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Overview:
Students learn how spectrograms represent sound variation and then examine the sounds of owls for traits that might be useful in determining evolutionary relationships. They compare these traits to morphological ones and test their hypotheses.

Author/Source:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
3-4 hours

Teaching tips:
This investigation is designed for undergraduate or high school students who are familiar with the idea of phylogenetic trees. It is composed of three semi-independent parts, which escalate in complexity and in the independence of thought required from the students. Computers with Internet access are required.

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

  • The patterns of life’s diversity through time provide evidence of evolution.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

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

  • Science focuses on natural phenomena and processes.

  • 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 may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations.

  • 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.

  • Evolutionary trees can be used to make inferences and predictions.

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