The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
The Scientific Process and How it Relates to Everyday Life
Department of Plant Biology
University of Georgia
Office of the Provost
Northern New Mexico College
Based on the disputed rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in April 2005, this interrupted case study tells the story of a fictional character, "Brad Murky," a student and research assistant who must decide whether the current evidence is sufficient for him to accept the bird's existence. Brad and his sister debate the issue through a series of emails leaving him to wonder whether the press conference to announce the rediscovery of the bird was scheduled in haste. Designed for an introductory biology course, this case would also work well in an ecology, environmental science, environmental public policy, ornithology, or science and society course.
- Apply the scientific process to a real life situation.
- Recognize that science is an ongoing process, not a one-time method to find the final answer.
- Explain the importance of the rejection of alternative hypotheses in the scientific process.
- Give an example of how science affects decisions in every-day life.
- Be familiar with the story of the ivory-billed woodpecker.
KeywordsIvory-billed woodpecker; Campephilus principalis; birds; Cache National Wildlife Refuge; Arkansas
Topical AreasPolicy issues, Scientific method, Science and the media
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Environmental Science | Natural Resource Management | Science (General) | Ecology |