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Mutualism

A Textbook Case


Author(s)

Eric Ribbens
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Illinois University
E-Ribbens@wiu.edu

Abstract

This case explores two-species interactions, especially mutualism, and presents students with a problem, namely, the inconsistent treatment of the concept of mutualism and symbiosis in many textbooks. It begins with a question that students will probably not feel qualified to answer: Is the equation of mutualism and symbiosis in a textbook correct? It then guides students through the concepts of two-species interspecific interactions, and returns to the central question. After exploring the case problem thoroughly, it ends with some thoughts about evolutionary dynamics. The case was designed for an introductory ecology course or a science education course. It can also be used with slight modifications in an introductory biology course.


Objectives

  • After this case, students will feel more able to critique textbooks.
  • Through his criticism, students will be better able to place textbooks and websites within the context of the scientific method.
  • After this case, students will have a deeper and richer understanding of interspecific interactions, especially mutualism.

Keywords

Mutualism; symbiosis; species interactions; science textbooks; scientific literature

Topical Areas

Scientific method

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Discussion, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Ecology  |   Science Education  |   Science (General)  |  


Date Posted

8/16/2011

Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

This case has an optional PowerPoint presentation. Click the link below.


  mutualism.ppt

Answer Key

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