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Si el Norte Fuera el Sur

A Case of Squirrel Monkey Identities


Karin Gastreich
Biology Department
Avila University


In this case study, students are given the task of developing a recovery plan to protect a recently discovered population of Central American squirrel monkeys on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. In the process they must determine whether the population is a separate species or related to another species of monkeys in the area. The case was originally designed for a course on fundamentals of tropical biology. The activity is adapted from another case study in the NCCSTS case collection: "Trouble in Paradise: A Case of Speciation" by James A. Hewlett. Due to the open-ended nature of the activity, there is no separate answer key for this case.

  • Review and consolidate their background understanding of evolutionary processes that give rise to speciation.
  • Apply concepts of micro- and macro- evolution to the divergence of two populations of Central American squirrel monkey.
  • Interpret simple data about squirrel monkeys, make inferences, and draw conclusions from that data.
  • Produce an original evolutionary story about the divergence of two populations of squirrel monkeys, using actual and fabricated data.
  • Learn the geography of southwest Costa Rica and understand the role of geography in generating species diversity.
  • Understand the concept of species and the implications of this concept for conservation.
  • Work cooperatively in small groups to develop skills in creative problem solving.
  • Develop a collaborative relationship with fellow students in an academic and social environment.
Keywords: squirrel monkey; speciation; tropical forest; population recovery; directional selection; stabilizing selection; Ballena Marine; Costa Rica; Saimiri oerstedii
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Ecology   Zoology   Wildlife Management   Evolutionary Biology  
Date Posted: 04/03/2002
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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