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BioQUEST Evolution Modules Frank Price Scholar in Residence, Hamilton College (315) 853–5233 in collaboration with other members of the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium BioQUEST: Bio logy Q uality U ndergraduate E ducational S imulations & T ools

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BioQUEST Evolution Modules

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BioQUEST Evolution Modules

Frank Price

Scholar in Residence, Hamilton College

(315) 853–5233

in collaboration with other members of the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium

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BioQUEST: Biology Quality Undergraduate Educational Simulations & Tools

  • Consortium of ≈150 active members & ≈5,000 fellow-travelers

  • Dedicated to Biology Curriculum Reform

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BioQUEST Philosophy

  • 3 Peas:

    • Problem Posing

    • Problem Solving

    • Peer Persuasion

  • Students need to do what professionals do:

    • Ask their own questions.

    • Find appropriate data.

    • Analyze data with appropriate professional tools.

    • Answer their questions.

    • Persuade peers of the value of their answers.

  • They need opportunities to work in the context of the discipline

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BioQUEST Philosophy

  • Inquiry–oriented approach

    • Goals, assumptions, models, history become explicit

    • Promote interpretation of data

    • Effect-to-cause reasoning

    • Encourages multivariate approaches

  • Encourage collaboration

    • Advantages of collaborative learning

    • Multiple modes of learning,

    • Multiple skills

  • De-emphasize “content” relative to skills

  • Emphasize Information Technology as a tool

    • Supplement, not replace, actual lab/field work

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute,

National Science Foundation*, Division of Undergraduate Education

Partnership for Advanced Computing Infrastructure

Previous :


Foundation for Microbiology

Beloit College

University of Chicago

Center for Biology Education, UW - Madison

Apple Computer

Pew Midstates Science & Mathematics Consortium

BioQUEST Funding

* 24 Funded NSF grants cite BioQUEST Library resources

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Background & Pedagogy




Cell Biology




General Biology



Molecular Biology

Molecular Visualization







BioQUEST Modules: Disciplines

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The Problems With Evolution Educaton:

  • Evolution is widely misunderstood

    – We don’t teach it well

  • Lack of Labs

    – Time and space

    – Variety of data & methods

    – Pedagogical models

  • Lack of Data

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Key Pedagogical Points:Goals for Students

  • Understanding of products of evolutionary biology (state of the art)

    • Theory

    • History

  • Learn assumptions that frame thinking

  • Practice methods

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Key Pedagogical Points: Evolutionary Biology

  • Goals of Evolutionary Inquiry

    • Theory: models of processes/phenomena

    • History: phylogenies as historical hypotheses

  • Shared assumptions, e.g.:

    • Species as gene pool w/ genetic variation

    • New variation continuous, random

    • Evolution: statistical change of population

    • Historical contingency

  • Methodologies & Tools

    • Various

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BIRDDDataLibrary(Mac, Win)

EVOLVESimulation: microevolution(Mac)

Biology Student WorkbenchAnalytical tool(Mac, Win)

MacClade 2.1Analytical tool(Mac)

Phylogenetic InvestigatorInstructional tool(Mac)

BeeVisitSimulation: pollination (Win)

BGuILE: Galapagos FinchesSimulation: ecology, selection(Mac)

BGuILE: TB LabSimulation : antibiotic selection(Mac)

Bumpus Numeric Dataset(Mac, Win)

Caminicules Visual dataset (Mac, Win)

Dendrograminaceae Visual dataset (Mac, Win)

BioQUEST Modules: Evolution

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On–Line Info:

  • BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium:

  • BioQUEST Liberary purchase: Press)

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Our Solution: BIRDD

  • Digital library of raw data:

    – Realistic

    – Accessible

    – Exportable

  • Open–ended

  • Instructional Support:

    – Getting Started

    – Classroom Examples

    – Teaching Evolutionary Biology

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  • For students

    • Senior Projects

    • Database development (possible summer stipend)

    • Student teaching

  • For faculty

    • Material for labs

      • Evolution, Ecology, Intro. Biol., animal morphology, Statistics, etc.

    • Opportunities for student projects

      • In courses

      • Database development

    • “Publish” your data

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BIRDD Has Been Tested At:

  • Beloit College (small, liberal arts):

    • Zoology: non–major’s intro. (Paul Whittaker)

    • Biological Issues, Making Sense of Evolutionary Explanations: non–major’s (Sam Donovan)

    • Evolution: major’s (John Jungck)

  • U. WI, Madison

    • Introductory Zoology: major’s intro., > 800 students/semester (Jean Heitz)

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Jean Heitz’ Approach to Using BIRDD: Grant Proposals ( Used in Introductory Zoology, UWI, Madison)

  • Week 1:

    • Acquaint students w/ BIRDD, Galapagos, finches

    • Find some preliminary questions

  • Week 2:

    • Present ideas to whole lab for critique

    • Revise, develop preliminary answers

    • More thorough analysis of data,

  • Week 3:

    • Present 2nd proposal draft to whole lab for critique

    • Write final propsal

  • Week 4: Turn in proposal

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  • BioQUEST Library CD–ROMindiv: $99*ISBN: 0-12-099470-4Site: $650 U/C*

  • Macintosh: $350 HS– System 7, System 7.1+ suggested, 4 MB available RAM

  • Windows: Windows 3.1+, Windows 95 + suggested, 8 MB available RAM.

  • Both: 180 MB of free hard disk space, color monitor with 800 x 600+ resolution, QuickTime® 3+ to play panorama & sound files.

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Data Resources:Islands

• Area

• Max. Elevation

• Age

• Vegetation zones

• Topographic map

• Breeding status of each finch species

Number of species of:


• Ferns

• Flowering plants

• Land birds

• Darwin’s finches

Archipelago maps & displays of island information.

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Data Resources:Darwin’s Finch Species Information

• Pictures

• Plumage descriptions

• Foraging method

• Foraging habitat

• Breeding habitat

• Breeding status on islands

Diagrams of


• Lateral view of skull, musculature

• Ventral views of skull, musculature

• Hard palate

• Beak cross–section

Display of a species’ information.

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Data Resources:Molecular Sequences

Display of a GenBank sequence.

Sequence NameNo. Sequences


• 16S Ribosomal RNA gene (partial)16

• Mitochondrial Control Region (short)12

• Microsatellite Repeat Region16

• Cytochrome b protein33

• Cytochrome b gene (partial)40

• Mitochondrial Control Region (partial)56

• Major Histocompatibility C Class II gene40

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Data Resources:Specimen Morphology

Help screen showing measurements.


Lack& HellerSullowaySwarth


No. specimens6,7585495175

Island, sex, orig. &

modern taxon name

Plumage 

Beak height

Beak width

Upper beak length  

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Data Resources:Specimen Morphology(cont.)

Display of measurements.


Lack& HellerSullowaySwarth


Nostril–upper beak l.  

Lower beak length  

Body length

Tail length

Wing length

Tarsus length

Middle toe & claw l. 

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Data Resources:Vocalizations

Help screen describing graphic display of a vocalization

13 vocalizations


• Playable sounds

• Sonograms

• Waveform diagrams

• Species descriptions

Display of a vocalization (upper left),

with expanded views of its components.

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Data Resources:Weather

Monthly weather data were exported to a statistics program to produce these graphs of rainfall over time and rainfall per month. El Nino events are readily visible..

• Island, station location• Elevation

Monthly Averages (11 stations)


• Precipitation • Temperature

• Maximum temperature• Minimum temperature

• Sea temperature• Hours of sunlight

Monthly Data (one station, 1950–1989)


• Year• Month

• Total precipitation

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Data Resources:Bibliography

• 320 References, searchable by

• Author

• Title

• Citation

• Type of reference (8 types)

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Data Resources:Pictures & Panoramas

Image of an organism.

• 12 Habitat panoramas (all major habitat types)

• 16 Organisms/scenes

Panorama of a habitat.

Help screen describing panorama displays and their controls.

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Data Resources:Tourist Visits (1979–1997)

• Year

• Month

• Number of tourists

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Archipelago Map

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BIRDD’s Main Table of Contents

This is one of BIRDD’s help screen and describes the main table of contents.

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Sample Help Screen

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Example of Exported Data

Opened with a Statistics Program

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Example of Exported Data

Scatterplot Matrix: All Species, All Islands

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Scatterplots: Lack Species

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Geospiza: Sample Densities

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Example of Exported Data

G. difficilis: Density Contour Plot for each Island

Darwin, Wolf

Santiago, St. Cruz

Pinta, Genoveas

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Example of Exported Data

G. difficilis: Density Contour Plot for Samples

All Islands

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Example of Exported Data

G. fuliginosa: Morphology Measures by Number of Species per Island

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