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Mutualism

A Textbook Case



Author:

Eric Ribbens
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Illinois University
E-Ribbens@wiu.edu

Abstract:

This case explores two-species interactions, especially mutualism, and presents students with a problem, namely, the inconsistent treatment of the concept of mutualism and symbiosis in many textbooks. It begins with a question that students will probably not feel qualified to answer: Is the equation of mutualism and symbiosis in a textbook correct? It then guides students through the concepts of two-species interspecific interactions, and returns to the central question. After exploring the case problem thoroughly, it ends with some thoughts about evolutionary dynamics. The case was designed for an introductory ecology course or a science education course. It can also be used with slight modifications in an introductory biology course.

Objectives:
  • After this case, students will feel more able to critique textbooks.
  • Through his criticism, students will be better able to place textbooks and websites within the context of the scientific method.
  • After this case, students will have a deeper and richer understanding of interspecific interactions, especially mutualism.
Keywords: Mutualism; symbiosis; species interactions; science textbooks; scientific literature
Topical Area: Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Ecology   Science Education   Science (General)  
Date Posted: 8/16/2011
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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Answer Key


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Supplemental Materials


This case has an optional PowerPoint presentation. Click the link below.

  Mutualism: So What Is It Anyway?



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