ERIC Number: EJ1044371
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
Competitive Phylogenetics: A Laboratory Exercise
McCabe, Declan J.
American Biology Teacher, v76 n2 p127-131 Feb 2014
This exercise demonstrates the principle of parsimony in constructing cladograms. Although it is designed using mammalian cranial characters, the activity could be adapted for characters from any group of organisms. Students score categorical traits on skulls and record the data in a spreadsheet. Using the Mesquite software package, students generate arbitrary cladograms and measure tree length. They then move taxa around to reduce tree length. The exercise can become competitive when students report out on tree lengths and try to achieve shorter trees than their peers. The resulting cladograms can be compared with a published mammalian phylogeny. The exercise illustrates phylogenetics, the principle of parsimony, and hypothesis testing using morphological data.
Descriptors: Science Activities, Science Laboratories, Biology, Evolution, College Science, Secondary School Science, Undergraduate Students, High School Students, Visual Aids, Computer Software, Computer Uses in Education, Competition, Genetics, Hypothesis Testing
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education; High Schools
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