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Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

Lesson summary for:
Evo in the news: Genetic variation helps rescue endangered panthers

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Overview:
In the 1990s, scientists predicted that the Florida panther would be extinct within 20 years and, in 1995, formulated a bold plan to save them. This news brief of December 2010 reports on the success of that plan which gave the panther a second lease on life by the infusion of genetic variation.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
10 minutes

Teaching tips:
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topics of Mendelian genetics and conservation (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). This story provides an excellent example of harmful recessive alleles and inbreeding depression in context. This article encourages students to reason about scientific data. It includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as advanced discussion questions for undergraduates. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • Natural selection and genetic drift act on the variation that exists in a population.

  • Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing.

  • Natural selection sometimes favors heterozygotes over homozygotes at a locus.

  • Heterozygote advantage preserves genetic variation at that locus (i.e., within the population, it maintains multiple alleles at that locus).

  • An individual’s fitness (or relative fitness) is the contribution that individual makes to the gene pool of the next generation relative to other individuals in the population.

  • An organism’s fitness depends on both its survival and its reproduction.

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life, for example in agriculture, biodiversity and conservation biology, and medicine and health.

Teacher background:

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