Evolution in Action: Data Analysis
In this activity, students analyze and graph data taken from a population of Galápagos finches before and after a major drought. These data track the morphological traits of 100 medium ground finches (Geospiza fortis) living on the island of Daphne Major.
There are two versions of the “Student Handout” for this activity, which can be customized based on your needs. In “Version 1,” students analyze the data by interpreting and constructing graphs, as well as calculating means and standard deviations. In “Version 2,” students calculate more advanced descriptive statistics (including 95% confidence intervals and the standard error of the mean), use error bars and a t test, and optionally do a linear regression.
Student Learning Targets
- Calculate and interpret descriptive statistics for a data set.
- Construct graphs with appropriate labels, including a title, axes, and units.
- Evaluate the evidence provided by data sets in relation to a particular scientific question.
- Construct biological hypotheses and explanations based on an understanding of natural selection.
- (“Version 2” only) Determine whether the difference in the means of two groups is significantly different.
confidence interval, error bar, histogram, linear regression, mean, sample, standard deviation, t test, trend line, variability
Grant, Rosemary B., and Peter R. Grant. “What Darwin's Finches Can Teach Us about the Evolutionary Origin and Regulation of Biodiversity.” BioScience 53, 10 (2003): 965–975. http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/53/10/965.full.pdf.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-2, HS-LS4-3, HS-LS4-4; SEP4, SEP5, SEP6
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-1.D, EVO-1.E, EVO-1.M, EVO-1.O, EVO-3.A; SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4, SP5, SP6
IB Biology (2016)
5.2, C.1, C.5
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 2.6, 2.7
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H, SP4, SP5, SP6
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Math.F-IF.7, Math.S-ID.1, Math.S-ID.2, Math.S-ID.3, Math-S-ID.4, Math.S-IC.1, Math.S-IC.3; MP1, MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC1, CC5; DP1, DP2