My Brother's Keeper
A Case Study in Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behavior
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.
- 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.
KeywordsKin 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 AreasScientific method
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsInterrupted, Journal Article
Subject HeadingsEvolutionary Biology | Ecology | Zoology | Biology (General) |