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Evolution in Darwin's Finches: Using Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection postulates to evaluate evidence of evolution

By Kaitlin Bonner

St. John Fisher College

Students evaluate evidence for evolution of Darwin's finches using authentic research data sets collected by Peter and Rosemary Grant.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group HHMI BioInteractive FMN (2017)

Version 1.0 - published on 07 Mar 2018 doi:10.25334/Q49988 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International according to these terms



In this activity students work with data sets collected by Peter and Rosemary Grant to investigate evidence for evolution in Geospiza fortis on Daphne Major, Galapagos.  The first few minutes of the HHMI BioInteractive video “The Origin of Species: The Beak of the Finch” is used to introduce the activity.  Students begin by discussing changes in beak size by evaluating a figure.  Then they work through identifying what they would need to be convinced that this figure represents evolution in this population using the postulates of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.  Each group works with a data set that addresses one of Darwin’s postulates using authentic research data collected by the Grants (available through Dryad Repository).  Each group generates a figure and conclusion as to whether the postulate is supported by the data.  The activity culminates with a discussion of the evidence presented by each group and a final open-ended exploration into the selective pressure that could be driving changes in average beak size over time in the population of finches.


Cite this work



This activity uses a similar framework to the Evolution in Action: Data Analysis Finch activity from HHMI.  A subset of the data set from the Evolution in Action activity is used as part of the postulate exploration.  Much of the data set exploration incorporates recently published datasets from Peter and Rosemary Grant’s “40 Years of Evolution” freely available from Dryad Repository (https://datadryad.org/).  The majority of the activity is unique from existing HHMI resources, but related through the theme of Finch Evolution. 

HHMI BioInteractive FMN (2017)

HHMI BioInteractive FMN (2017) group image

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