Genetic drift is an important mechanism in microevolution, but it can be more challenging to understand than other mechanisms (e.g., natural selection). This group project allows students to simulate random changes in allelic frequencies over generational time using a few simple supplies and was well received when included in an introductory biology course at the collegiate level.
Phenology refers to the seasonal changes in activity and abundance observed in both plants and animals. This article highlights two animal groups, aquatic insects and frogs, in which phenology can be observed, using data collected directly and via databases. Effects of climate change on phenological patterns are also discussed.
Optimal foraging theory attempts to explain the foraging patterns observed in animals, including their choice of particular food items and foraging locations. We describe three experiments designed to test hypotheses about food choice and foraging habitat preference using bird feeders. These experiments can be used alone or in combination and can also provide a foundation for students to develop extensions incorporating the basic methodology. We see these experiments as most applicable in secondary and postsecondary education, but they could be adapted for a variety of educational environments and for students with a variety of backgrounds.