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"Connecting Concepts: Evolution/Species & Speciation" icon

Connecting Concepts: Evolution/Species & Speciation

This tutorial/simulation consists of three topics. In topic 1, students look at 5 frog populations to decide whether they should be considered separate species using criteria of three of the species concepts: biological, morphological, and phylogenetic. Students will: 1) describe why species are continuous over time and space; 2) review definitions of three species concepts with strengths and weaknesses of each; 3) analyze traits to sort populations into species based on 3 species concepts; and 4) gain familiarity with: 3 species concepts, phylogenetic trees, and reproductive isolation. In topic 2, students will think about speciation events at several points along the phylogeny of the plant genus Fuchsia. Students decide whether vicariance, dispersal, or both are plausible explanations for past and current distributions. Students will: 1) interpret phylogenies and geographical distributions to determine speciation patterns; 2) integrate understandings of continental drift with speciation; 3) analyze hypotheses as they seek to explain patterns of speciation; and 4) become familiar with the terms: allopatry, sympatry, adaptive radiation, gene flow, vicariance, and polyploidy. In topic 3, students look at speciation case studies. They are asked to think critically about evidence they collect to answer questions within the following contexts: Mosquito case: Does the evidence support separating one species into more than one species? Panther case: Does the evidence show that the FL panther is unique enough to conserve? (also useful for conservation lessons). Students will: 1) interpret real data on Anopheles quadrimaculatus species complex and the Florida panther, including morphological traits, haplotypes, population histories, ecology, molecular phylogenies, hybridization, and geographic distributions; 2) define species in “real life” situations; and 3) make a conservation decision based on concepts in species and speciation.


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Marty Zahn
Marty Zahn (Retired Faculty)
7 years ago

Well designed interactive site that helps students understand the mechanisms of speciation and the importance of being able to determine how many different species you are dealing with.


Use as part of a lab assignment both in class and online.

Time spent reviewing site: 3 hours
Harry A Mazurek
Harry A Mazurek (Faculty)
15 years ago
Interactives and animations that immediately confront student to perform active
thinking of the concepts presented. Original high quality content. The page for
all the concepts covered so far:
Used in course? Yes