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My Brother's Keeper

A Case Study in Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behavior


Author(s)

Kari E. Benson
Biology Department
Lynchburg College
benson@lynchburg.edu

Abstract

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, which was first reported by Paul Sherman in Science magazine in 1977. The case is appropriate for use in animal behavior, ecology, evolutionary biology, or introductory biology courses.


Objectives

  • Understand that natural selection does not (necessarily) act for the good of the species.
  • Understand that natural selection can favor traits that do not directly enhance individual fitness.
  • Understand that kin selection can explain many behaviors that seem otherwise maladaptive.
  • Understand that humans are animals and that evolutionary strategies may be revealed in human behavior.

Keywords

Kin selection; kin recognition; kinship; reciprocal altruism; nepotism; alarm calling; predator response; reproductive strategy; evolution; animal behavior; Belding ground squirrel; Belding's ground squirrel; Spermophilus beldingi; Hamilton’s rule

Topical Areas

Scientific method

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Interrupted, Journal Article

Language

English

Subject Headings

Evolutionary Biology  |   Ecology  |   Zoology  |   Biology (General)  |  


Date Posted

03/08/04

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