This interactive module allows students to use DNA profiling and related biological concepts to solve two cases of elephant poaching.
This Click & Learn combines elephants, species conservation, and forensics to teach key biological concepts and science practices. Students explore actual cases, adapted for use in the classroom, in which scientists use DNA profiling to investigate the elephant poaching that supplies the ivory trade. In the process, students learn about genetic markers, PCR, gel electrophoresis, allele frequencies, and population genetics.
The Click & Learn has three associated worksheets:
- “Student Worksheet One (Analyzing Genetic Evidence)” walks students through all sections of the Click & Learn, except for the "Frequency Primer" section. This worksheet can serve as a record of completion, as well as a reference for key concepts.
- “Student Worksheet Two (Using Genetics to Hunt Elephant Poachers)” provides additional data sets that students will use to solve several new cases. This worksheet is more of an extension activity in which students apply what they learned from the Click & Learn. It requires students to think scientifically, use math appropriately, and apply claim-evidence-reasoning to support their thinking.
- The “Student Supplement (Frequency Primer)” scaffolds the "Frequency Primer" section at the end of Case One and provides additional practice with probability calculations. It may be helpful for students who are new to frequency and probability calculations.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret gel electrophoresis results to determine relationships between individuals and populations.
- Use allele frequencies to calculate the probability of two individuals sharing the same genetic profile.
- Explain how the geographic and genetic distances between two populations are related.
- Explain how genetic data helps law enforcement officers and conservationists decide where to target their efforts.
conservation, DNA fingerprinting, DNA profiling, elephant, gel electrophoresis, genetic marker, ivory, poaching, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), short tandem repeat (STR)
Wasser, S. K., L. Brown, C. Mailand, S. Mondol, W. Clark, C. Laurie, and B. S. Weir. "Genetic assignment of large seizures of elephant ivory reveals Africa’s major poaching hotspots." Science 349, 6243 (2015): 84–87. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa2457.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-7, HS-LS3-3; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5, SEP6
AP Biology (2019)
IST-1.M, IST-1.N, IST-1.O, IST-1.P, SYI-3.F; SP1, SP2, SP5, SP6
IB Biology (2016)
3.1, 3.5, B.5, C.3, C.4
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 2.1, 2.7, 9.9
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.A. ERT-2.I, EIN-4.B, SP1, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6, SP7
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
ELA.RST.9-12.2, ELA.RST.9-12.7, ELA.WHST.9-12.9
Math.N-Q.1, Math.A-CED.1, Math.A-REI.2, Math.A-REI.3, Math.S-IC.1, Math.S-IC.2, Math.S-IC.3; MP1, MP2, MP3
Vision and Change (2009)
CC5; DP1, DP2, DP3