This research profile follows scientist Chelsea Specht as she pieces together the evolutionary history of tropical plants and their pollinators--and in the process, tries to figure out how to conserve endangered species.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This research profile includes an animation of the evolution of flower shape, as well as discussion and essay questions that can be assigned to students. Get tips for using research profiles in your classroom.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)
- Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.
- Occupying new environments can provide new selection pressures and new opportunities, leading to speciation. (LS4.C)
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)
- Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.
- Scientists use the similarity of DNA nucleotide sequences to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Scientists use anatomical evidence to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Classification is based on evolutionary relationships.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.
- As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.
- Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)
- There is a fit between the form of a trait and its function, though not always a perfect fit.
- Not all similar traits are homologous; some are the result of convergent evolution.