Students often have difficulty understanding the underpinning mechanisms of natural selection because they lack the means to directly test hypotheses within the classroom. Computer simulations are ideal platforms to allow students to manipulate variables and observe evolutionary outcomes; however, many available models solve the scenario for the users without revealing the evolutionarily significant calculations. I developed a simplified bioenergetics model of a hammerhead shark for teaching natural selection that allows the users to manipulate variables and see the impacts of modeling while solving for the evolutionary consequences. Students generate variation within the population by controlling cephalofoil widths and swimming speeds of an individual, which affect its ability to detect and capture prey at the expense of energy lost as drag from swimming. The trade-off between energy gained from successful predation and energy lost from metabolic expenditures dictates rates of reproduction. By manipulating a subset of factors that influence differential reproductive success, students gain an improved understanding of natural selection.
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Research Article| February 01 2019
A Simplified Bioenergetics Model of a Hammerhead Shark for Teaching Natural Selection
The American Biology Teacher (2019) 81 (2): 115–119.
Jay Y. S. Hodgson; A Simplified Bioenergetics Model of a Hammerhead Shark for Teaching Natural Selection. The American Biology Teacher 1 February 2019; 81 (2): 115–119. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2019.81.2.115
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