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A Deadly Passion

Sexual Cannibalism in the Australian Redback Spider


Author(s)

Erin Barley
Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
ebarley@sfu.ca
Joan Sharp
Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
jsharp@sfu.ca

Abstract

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 presentation (~3MB) punctuated by multiple-choice questions that the students answer using personal response systems, or "clickers." It could be adapted for use without these technologies. Although developed for a general biology class, the case would also be suitable for use in non-majors introductory biology or behavioral ecology courses.


Objectives

  • Distinguish between proximate and ultimate causes of behavior.
  • Explain how proximate and ultimate questions about animal behavior are linked in their evolutionary basis.
  • Use natural history and experimental data to support or reject hypotheses.

Keywords

Adaptive behavior; sexual cannibalism; redback spider; Latrodectus hasselti; Arachnida; animal behavior; courtship; mating; hypothesis development; hypothesis testing; proximate causation; ultimate causation; self-sacrifice; evolution; Maydianne Andrade

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Clicker, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Evolutionary Biology  |   Zoology  |  


Date Posted

11/19/09

Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

Dr. Andrade’s movie of the redback male somersaulting and being eaten by the female.


  deadly_passion.mov

Answer Key

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Comments


Carrie Hall
carrie.hall@augie.edu
Biology
Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD
11/07/2013
Fantastic case study; thoroughly prepared and well designed.

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