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Yolanda H. Chen
Associate Professor
Department of Plant and Soil Science
The University of Vermont
Unintended Consequences of Plant Domestication on Plant-Insect Interactions 

This case study investigates how plant domestication sometimes produces unintended consequences for plant-insect interactions. The narrative follows a boy in middle school, Podrick, who goes on a class field trip and notices that there are no caterpillar pests on the native sunflowers, in contrast to the farm on which his father grows domesticated sunflowers. When Podrick asks his teacher for an explanation, she agrees to do some research and report back the next day. The students in your course examine the research she finds and are tasked with formulating an answer in terms that Podrick can understand. In addition to offering teachers and students the opportunity to explore multi-trophic level interactions, students also work on writing hypotheses, interpreting data, integrating knowledge, and writing a clear and concise summary of results. This case is appropriate for introductory ecology, entomology, agriculture, or science education courses. Depending on how in-depth teachers want to go with statistics, the case might also be appropriate for similar upper level courses.