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The Galapagos


Author(s)

Nancy A. Schiller
University Libraries / National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science
University at Buffalo
schiller@buffalo.edu
Clyde Freeman Herreid
Department of Biological Sciences
University at Buffalo
herreid@buffalo.edu

Abstract

Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species formation, and threats to their biodiversity in this story of a graduate student caught between local fishermen and government officials fighting for control of the islands’ natural resources. The case was designed for an introductory biology course where the focus is on evolution. It would also be appropriate for courses in ecology, conservation biology, and natural resources management. [Please note: no answer key is available for this case, although further details are provided in the teaching notes.]


Objectives

  • To examine the geology and the formation of volcanic islands and how they are colonized.
  • To consider the process of species formation on islands and island biogeography.
  • To study the process of adaptation.
  • To consider how competition leads to character displacement and resource partitioning.
  • To compare the effects of natural selection and sexual selection with genetic drift as driving forces in evolution.
  • To learn how DNA technology is used to develop a species phylogeny and individual genealogies.
  • To grapple with questions of extinction and our obligation to preserve biodiversity.
  • To evaluate the impact of people on fragile ecosystems and examine how the competing interests of people can determine whether a habitat will survive or be destroyed.

Keywords

Galapagos; volcanic islands; evolution; species formation; natural selection; adaptation; genetic drift; Charles Darwin; biodiversity; Peter Grant; Rosemary Grant; finches; birds; tortoises; sea cucumbers; extinction; ecotourism; South America; Ecuador

Topical Areas

Ethics, Policy issues, Social issues, Social justice issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Problem-Based Learning, Role-Play, Jig-Saw, Dilemma/Decision

Language

English

Subject Headings

Evolutionary Biology  |   Biology (General)  |   Ecology  |   Earth Science  |   Environmental Science  |   Natural Resource Management  |  


Date Posted

12/1/99

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

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