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En Garde! Animal Structures and What They Mean
In most animals, the drive to breed and produce offspring is strong. However, most males live their whole lives without having the chance to breed. The events leading up to mating can be very dangerous and also very costly to an individual. Some males ...

A Deadly Passion
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 presentati...

A Strange Fish Indeed
Through a series of fictionalized diary entries, this case recounts the 1939 discovery by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer (and identification by J.L.B. Smith) of a living coelacanth, a fish believed to be extinct for over 70 million years. Developed for...

A Trip to the Beach
This interrupted case study, designed for an introductory biology or environmental science course, introduces students to the complexity of ecosystems by examining changes in trophic interactions and abiotic factors in a freshwater ecosystem as a resul...

An Antipodal Mystery
The discovery of the platypus had the scientific world in an uproar and kept it tantalized for decades. Here was the strangest animal ever seen. How was one to classify it? It had fur. So, was it a mammal? But then what to make of its duck-like bill? A...

Breeding Belyaev's Pets
This clicker case addresses several important concepts related to evolution. First, it explores artificial selection and selective breeding. Charles Darwin used artificial selection as an example to support his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection....

Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to Evolutionary Discovery
This interrupted case study focuses on the research of Dr. Beatrice Hahn, who investigates DNA sequences in chimpanzee droppings in order to explore the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Students first consider the types of data that c...

Conversations with Fireflies
This case explores the aggressive mimicry behavior of the femme fatale firefly - female fireflies in the genus Photuris that mimic the flash pattern of females in the genus Photinus in order to lure Photinus males to their de...

Cross-Dressing Salmon
This "clicker case" about female mimicry in spawning salmon was developed for an introductory-level, non-majors biology course to help address one of the most common misconceptions that students have about natural selection, namely, that only the "stro...

Does the Matrix Matter?
In this case study, students apply principles of landscape ecology, experimental design, and data interpretation to examine alternative explanations for how birds respond to forest fragmentation and landscape matrix. Using an interrupted format, the ca...

Exaggerated Traits and Breeding Success in Widowbirds
Sexual selection has led to the evolution of interesting traits and behaviors in many animal species. In widowbirds, males undergo a dramatic change in plumage coloration and produce exceptionally long tail feathers during the breeding season. This cha...

How Do Scallops Swim?
Scallops are bivalve mollusks that live on the seabed. This way of life makes them susceptible to predation and so they have evolved the ability to escape by swimming. This interrupted case study is based on a few observations and simple experiments wh...

Hunting the Black Rhino
This case study was developed to teach students the importance of understanding the behavior of wildlife, explore the difficulty in making management decisions when the public is invested in a species, and to help students develop critical thinking and...

It Was a Hot August Afternoon...
A farmer becomes concerned after discovering a number of dead animals on his small farm, including some ducks, several deer, and a coyote, all within a single week. Fearing that someone might be poisoning his land, he calls in a veterinary pathologist ...

It’s a Crocodile! No, a Fish! No, a Dolphin!
It is not uncommon to hear creationists argue that evolution is not science because no one saw it happen, or for students to wonder how we can know anything about the physiology or behavior of organisms that went extinct hundreds of millions of years a...

Man's Best Friend?
In this case, students learn how archaeology operates as an historical science by collecting and analyzing material evidence to make claims about the past. Assuming the role of zooarchaeologists, they evaluate a hypothetical case in which “Dr. Ja...

Mathematics in Conservation
This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Florida panther. An endangered population is unlikely to survive simply due to its small population size. B...

Mom Always Liked You Best
This interrupted case study is based on a journal article on the parenting behavior of American coots. Working through the case, students develop hypotheses and design experiments to test their hypotheses as they are given pieces of the case in an inte...

My Brother's Keeper
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, whic...

No Bats in the Belfry
This interrupted case study investigates the geographic origin of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). WNS is a devastating fungal disease caused by the fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (formerly know...

Not Necessarily on Purpose
In this “clicker case,” students learn about evolution, speciation, and natural selection as well as interpret phylogenies as they apply to the Canidae family. The case is based on the idea that the domestication of the dog was not likely a...

Rabbit Calicivirus Disease - Magic Bullet or Pandora's Box?
The characters in this dilemma case, representing the scientific community and government, must make a decision about whether or not to release a virulent pathogen into the environment in order to control the rapidly expanding population of European ra...

Search for the Missing Sea Otters
Using a progressive disclosure format, this case study teaches students how to apply ecological principles to a real-life ecological problem, namely, the decline in sea otter populations in Alaska. Students interpret data from graphs and tables and pra...

Si el Norte Fuera el Sur
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...

The Case of the Sexually Arrested Orangutans
This case examines the hormonal control of the development and maturation to adulthood and the role of stress hormones in that developmental process. The case was adapted from results summarized in Maggioncalda and Sapolsky’s (2002) article in

The Coelacanth: An Odd Fish
This "clicker case" is a redesign of a case, also in our collection, by Robert H. Grant titled "A Strange Fish Indeed: The 'Discovery' of a Living Fossil." The case follows the story of Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and her discovery of the coelacanth, a ...

The Dangers of Deicing
Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the impact of road deicing agents on amphibians living near bridges and roads treated heavily with salt duri...

The Evolution of Color Vision in Monkeys
This case study examines the evolution color vision in Old World and New World monkeys from multiple biological perspectives. This integrative approach employs both problem-based learning techniques and directed questions as students move through a ser...

The Fish Kill Mystery
In this case study, students speculate on what may have caused a major fish kill in an estuary in North Carolina. In the process, they explore how land runoff and excess nutrients affect aquatic communities, and learn about the complex life cycle of th...

The Perilous Plight of the Pika
This interrupted case study addresses several concepts related to climate change and its effect on the American pika. Often called an indicator species for climate change, the pika has a unique set of variables specific to its environment. Factors such...

The Waiting Game
In this interrupted case study, students examine the cooperative courtship behavior of long-tailed manakins. Males of the long-tailed form leks, areas in which males display for females in groups. Leks in this species consist of two to 11 males, with t...

Trouble in Paradise
In this case study, students apply principles of evolution they have learned in class to create their own story explaining the evolutionary history of a previously unknown species of rodent discovered on an island in the West Indies. The case study is...

What is a Species?
This "clicker case" is modified from Martin Kelly's case study "As the Worm Turns: Speciation and the Apple Maggot Fly," also in our collection. Classic cases of incipient speciation such as the apple maggot fly and the hawthorn maggot fly are an excel...