ERIC Number: EJ1021088
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 29
Spiders in Motion: Demonstrating Adaptation, Structure-Function Relationships, and Trade-Offs in Invertebrates
Bowlin, Melissa S.; McLeer, Dorothy F.; Danielson-Francois, Anne M.
Advances in Physiology Education, v38 n1 p71-79 Mar 2014
Evolutionary history and structural considerations constrain all aspects of animal physiology. Constraints on invertebrate locomotion are especially straightforward for students to observe and understand. In this exercise, students use spiders to investigate the concepts of adaptation, structure-function relationships, and trade-offs. Students measure burst and endurance performance in several taxonomic families of spiders whose ecological niches have led to different locomotory adaptations. Based on observations of spiders in their natural habitat and prior background information, students make predictions about spider performance. Students then construct their own knowledge by performing a hands-on, inquiry-based scientific experiment where the results are not necessarily known. Depending on the specific families chosen, students can observe that web-dwelling spiders have more difficulty navigating complex terrestrial terrain than ground-dwelling spiders and that there is a trade-off between burst performance and endurance performance in spiders. Our inexpensive runway design allows for countless variations on this basic experiment; for example, we have successfully used runways to show students how the performance of heterothermic ectotherms varies with temperature. High levels of intra- and interindividual variation in performance underscore the importance of using multiple trials and statistical tests. Finally, this laboratory activity can be completely student driven or standardized, depending on the instructor's preference.
Descriptors: Animals, Physiology, Science Instruction, Experiments, Hands on Science, Motion, Taxonomy, Educational Objectives, College Science, Secondary School Science, College Students, High School Students, Laboratory Equipment, Misconceptions, Inquiry, Student Evaluation
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A