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ERIC Number: EJ863731
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0002-7685
Exploring the Diversity of Life with the Phylogenetic Collection Lab
White, Brian T.
American Biology Teacher, v71 n3 p157-161 Mar 2009
An awareness of the extensive diversity of living organisms is an essential component of a complete biology education. It is important for students to explore the spectacular variety of living things as well as to understand the many solutions to the challenges of living on Earth that have evolved in different organisms. The "National Science Education Standards" require that K-12 students understand that "the great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution that has filled every available niche with life forms" and that "organisms are classified into a hierarchy of groups and subgroups based on similarities which reflect their evolutionary relationships." At the college level, Bio 2010 states that biology undergraduates should understand that, "although fundamental molecular and cellular processes are conserved, biological systems and organisms are extraordinarily diverse." Most biology textbooks contain extensive descriptions of the diversity of living things; virtually all general biology courses, at the high school and introductory college level, spend a significant amount of time on this subject. The data described in this article show that introductory-level biology students at the University of Massachusetts Boston have a very limited awareness of the diversity of living organisms. When most of these students are asked to name different animals and plants, their responses are almost exclusively members of two phyla: (1) chordata; and (2) angiospermae. In order to meet the "Standards" described, it is important that students realize that these two phyla represent only a tiny fraction of the diversity of life on Earth. This article describes a lab exercise, the Phylogenetic Collection Lab, designed to expand students' knowledge of diversity. In this lab, students collect samples of organisms from 12-16 different phyla that they have chosen from a list of 81 phyla, and discuss their similarities and differences. The data presented in this article show that this lab exercise significantly increases students' awareness of plant and animal diversity. (Contains 2 tables and 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts