A Mysterious Illness on Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Wisconsin—Parkside
Something is killing organisms from dolphins to dogs to humans on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. What is it? How did it get to the island? How is it transmitted between organisms? This interrupted case study is designed to teach students at the introductory biology undergraduate or AP high school biology level about the importance of organismal diversity in uncovering the culprit behind the outbreak of a real-life illness. The case is presented in an interrupted format in which students work progressively through the sections, gradually gathering more information, responding to questions that do not always have definite answers, thereby giving students a taste of how real science works. The intent is for students to use their knowledge of major organismal groups learned in class to figure out this true-life “who-done-it.” The case can be used as a review of major organismal groupings at the classification level of domain and kingdom. Basic organismal characteristics of prokaryotes and eukaryotes are highlighted, and mechanisms for origin and transmission of organismal outbreaks are discussed.
- Review basic details about the diversity of prokaryotes and early eukaryotes.
- Understand the importance of learning details of different organismal groups.
- Apply deductive reasoning to a real-life situation to discover the cause of an outbreak.
- Understand the complex interaction between the outbreak of a pathogen in the environment and what can or cannot be done about it.
- Work cooperatively in small groups to develop creative problem solving skills.
KeywordsFungi; Cryptococcus; organismal diversity; Vancouver Island; British Columbia; prokaryote; eukaryote; outbreak; kingdom; domain; taxonomy
Topical AreasScientific argumentation
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsInterrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Microbiology | Public Health |
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