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The Hidden Kingdom: Island Biogeography with Fungi

Author(s): Erica F Kosal

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

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Fungi are a diverse, but understudied kingdom of organisms in the classroom.  In this module, the characteristics of fungi are introduced and then using a dataset, fungi dispersal capabilities and colonization success are examined.  Fungi were introduced to different sized petri dishes that represented islands with various concentrations of resources.  The colonization success, growth and reproductive capabilities of fungi are examined against the predictions of island biogeography theory.  Students will determine which statistical tests are appropriate to use given the data and then determine what some long-term impacts of the study may be.

Student Learning Objectives

  • Understand the roles that fungi play in the environment
  • Summarize how fungi sexually reproduce and disperse their spores
  • Identify the diversity in fungi groups and in relationships with other organisms
  • Apply island biogeography theory
  • Construct graphs to illustrate predictions for an experiment
  • Analyze data to compare different treatment results
  • Calculate means and standard deviations
  • Make claims based on scientific evidence and use scientific reasoning to support the claims

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