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My Brother's Keeper

A Case Study in Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behavior



Author:

Kari E. Benson
Biology Department
Lynchburg College
benson@lynchburg.edu

Abstract:

In this interrupted case study, students work in teams to interpret behavioral data with respect to evolutionary biology.  Specifically, the case examines the behavior of alarm calling in a certain type of squirrel, Belding's ground squirrel, which was first reported by Paul Sherman in Science magazine in 1977. The case is appropriate for use in animal behavior, ecology, evolutionary biology, or introductory biology courses.

Objectives:
  • Understand that natural selection does not (necessarily) act for the good of the species.
  • Understand that natural selection can favor traits that do not directly enhance individual fitness.
  • Understand that kin selection can explain many behaviors that seem otherwise maladaptive.
  • Understand that humans are animals and that evolutionary strategies may be revealed in human behavior.
Keywords: Kin selection; kin recognition; kinship; reciprocal altruism; nepotism; alarm calling; predator response; reproductive strategy; evolution; animal behavior; Belding ground squirrel; Belding's ground squirrel; Spermophilus beldingi; Hamilton’s rule
Topical Area: Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted, Journal Article
Language: English
Subject Headings: Evolutionary Biology   Ecology   Zoology   Biology (General)  
Date Posted: 03/08/04
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.

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