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A Deadly Passion

Sexual Cannibalism in the Australian Redback Spider



Co Authors:

Erin Barley
Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
ebarley@sfu.ca

Joan Sharp
Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
jsharp@sfu.ca

Abstract:

This "clicker case" teaches students about the distinction between proximate and ultimate causes of behavior using the fascinating courtship and mating rituals of the Australian redback spider. The case is presented in class via a PowerPoint presentation (~3MB) punctuated by multiple-choice questions that the students answer using personal response systems, or "clickers." It could be adapted for use without these technologies. Although developed for a general biology class, the case would also be suitable for use in non-majors introductory biology or behavioral ecology courses.

Objectives:
  • Distinguish between proximate and ultimate causes of behavior.
  • Explain how proximate and ultimate questions about animal behavior are linked in their evolutionary basis.
  • Use natural history and experimental data to support or reject hypotheses.
Keywords: Adaptive behavior; sexual cannibalism; redback spider; Latrodectus hasselti; Arachnida; animal behavior; courtship; mating; hypothesis development; hypothesis testing; proximate causation; ultimate causation; self-sacrifice; evolution; Maydianne Andrade
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Clicker, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Evolutionary Biology   Zoology  
Date Posted: 11/19/09
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes


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Answer Key


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Supplemental Materials


Dr. Andrade’s movie of the redback male somersaulting and being eaten by the female.

  Redback somersault video (Courtesy of Andrade Lab)
Fantastic case study; thoroughly prepared and well designed.


Carrie Hall
Biology
Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD
carrie.hall@augie.edu
11/7/2013



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