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					High School Science                                                  Taxonomy of Evolution

                             SCoPE Site Lesson Plan
Title: Lesson 8 – Bird Speciation (SC090208)

Students develop a simulation of bird adaptation to an island environment. They extend their
simulation to include change in the environment.

Subject Area: Science

Grade Level and Course Title: Ninth Grade/Biology

Unit of Study: Taxonomy of Evolution

   Explain how a new species or variety may originate through the evolutionary process of
     natural selection (III.4.HS.2).

Key Concepts
natural selection

Instructional Resources
Art supplies
Poster board

Student Resource
Maes, Alison, and Juliana Texley. Unit 2 Lesson 8 Student Pages. Teacher-made material.
   Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Treasury, 2004.

Teacher Resource
Benz, Richard. Ecology and Evolution: Islands of Change. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press, 2000.

Charles     Darwin.    The     Voyage    of      the     Beagle.    4     February     2004

Evolution. Videocassette. Boston, MA: WGBH Boston Video, 2001.

Learning and Teaching Evolution. Videocassette. Boston, MA: WGBH Boston Video, 2001.

Maes, Alison, and Juliana Texley. Grade 9 Unit 2 Teacher Background. Teacher-made material.
  Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Treasury, 2004.

Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of
   Science, 1998.

February 4, 2004                                               SCoPE SC090208 Page 1 of 4
High School Science                                                      Taxonomy of Evolution

Sequence of Activities
Advanced Preparation: On note cards, make copies of descriptions of environments and
environmental changes listed at the end of this lesson.

1. Review: “Where are the Galapagos Islands located?” They may remember they are located
   on the equator off the coast of Ecuador. Ask: “What types of species live on the Galapagos
   Islands?” Students should remember the finches and may also remember the tortoises and
   other species mentioned in Darwin’s log from his journey on the H.M.S. Beagle, which they
   explored in Lesson 1. Show the students pictures of other interesting species from the islands
   like the blue-footed boobies and iguanas. Ask the students: “Why do these species live on the
   Galapagos Islands and not here in Michigan?” Students may recognize that the environment
   on the Galapagos Islands is much different than here in Michigan. Galapagos species are not
   well adapted for the Michigan climate and terrain.

2. There are four different island environments in this activity. Distribute one Island
   Environment card to each group. Students may research the biomes mentioned on the cards
   for ideas.

       Your island is rocky and very dry, like a         Your island is lush, with many ferns and
    desert. The plants include cacti and ocotillo.       moss, like a rain forest. It has springs that
      Insects live in the cactus tissue. There are        produce many small streams. There are
         no fruits or nuts. There are no large              ferrets (predatory mammals) that eat
     predators on the island, and no other birds.        birds and iguanas that eat eggs. There are
                                                           coconuts that fall from trees, nuts and

    Your island is volcanic. The rock is basaltic,
    and almost nothing grows on it. It resembles              Your island is scrub forest. It has a
    the alpine region of some mountains.                    distinct wet and dry season. In the wet
    Limpets and barnacles live on the rocky               season, the shrubs bloom and fruit. There
    shore, and crabs crawl up the rocks at high             are many insects that eat the fruit, and
    tide. Moss covers the rocks, and kelp washes             small lizards that eat the insects. The
    ashore. The cliffs are covered with droppings          plants are mainly palms and succulents.
    from gulls.

3. Explain that the groups are to design a species of song bird that is well adapted to the
   environment of their given island. Groups should consider the feeding, flying, and nesting
   habits of their newly created species. Each group must draw a mural or build a model of their
   island and a minimum of three individuals from their bird species. The adaptations should be
   described fully.

February 4, 2004                                                   SCoPE SC090208 Page 2 of 4
High School Science                                                      Taxonomy of Evolution
4. Once the students have completed this portion of the activity, have the groups share their
   creations. Set each mural or model up for class viewing and have a representative from each
   group present their species to the class. It is interesting to compare the species created by
   groups who were given the same island environments. A class discussion about adaptations
   can follow the presentations.

5. Reconvene the groups and randomly distribute one Environment Change card to each group.
   The members of each group should discuss how the environmental change would affect the
   population of their species for generations to come. If necessary, remind students about the
   theory of natural selection and, in particular, how those individuals most suited to the
   environment live long enough to reproduce and pass on those beneficial adaptations. Over
   time, the change in the population could result in subspecies or new species (A species is
   defined as a group of individuals that can breed and produce fertile offspring. If a population
   is divided because of new environmental pressures it is possible for the succeeding
   generations to become so different from each other that they can no longer breed and produce
   fertile offspring. In this case, new species are created.)

6. Student should work in their groups to answer the questions on their Student Pages in the
   section labeled “Environmental Changes.” [Each group’s response will be different.
   However, their answers should reflect a reasonable rate of evolutionary change. The birds
   could not change, mutate, or adapt to significant change in a few generations.]

                  Change!                                                 Change!
  An exotic species of insect is introduced                    El Nino changes the climate. It
      on your island. It has no natural                     becomes much more wet and warmer.
  enemies. It reproduces quickly and eats                     Succulent plants die, while molds
     a significant part of the plant life.                       cover much of the surface.

                  Change!                                                   Change!
    A volcano becomes active, erupting                     An earthquake changes the pattern of an
   periodically. The dust chokes out plant                  ocean current, which brings warmer
                reproduction.                              water near your island. There are more
                                                              plants, fish, and fish-eating birds.

7. Once completed a new group representative should present to the class the scenario they
   created for their species in response to the environmental change.

8. In summary, return to the pictures of the Galapagos species. Ask the students: “Which
   islands are most like the Galapagos?” [Scrub forest.] “How do you believe those species
   would survive on your given islands?” [Answers will vary.] Also ask: “How may these
   species change as the environment changed in your given scenarios?” Finally ask: “When
   would a variation actually become a new species?” Students should recognize that as the
   Earth’s many environments continue to change over time. Species and individuals of species
   with beneficial adaptations survive in the new environments and reproduce passing on the

February 4, 2004                                                   SCoPE SC090208 Page 3 of 4
High School Science                                                      Taxonomy of Evolution
   beneficial traits. Isolation contributes to the perpetuation of variations-some random (founder
   effects) and some in response to environmental pressures. Over many, many, many
   generations the individuals of the species may be so genetically different from their ancestors
   that they are now a distinct species. Species are reproductively distinct; they interbreed in
   nature for fertile offspring.

   Note: If students continue to have difficulty with this concept, using an analogy to explain it
   may be helpful. For example, have students look or visualize the evolution of the automobile.
   The first automobiles all looked essentially like the Model T. Today, however, there are
   thousands of different automobiles with adaptations for their environment. Indy racecars are
   designed for speed while Cherokees are designed for off road activities.

Check the student’s presentations and answers on their Student Pages for understanding.
Students should realize that change cannot occur quickly.

Application Beyond School
Students can research how major environmental catastrophes affected the species living in a
certain environment. Examples may include Mount St. Helens after it erupted or Yosemite
National Park after forest fires.

English Language Arts
Students apply writing and communication skills in the preparation of their papers and delivery
of their presentation. Students create an analogy for evolution of species similar to the example
of automobile evolution given above.

February 4, 2004                                                   SCoPE SC090208 Page 4 of 4