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Lesson summary for:
Viruses and Host Evolution


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Students learn about natural selection in rabbits by observing the effects of a virus on the Australian rabbit population.

Chamberlain, Don

Grade level:

Four class periods.

Teaching tips:
This activity assumes that students have received information about viral structure, the viral replication cycle, differences between RNA and DNA viruses, and some effects of viruses on living tissues.

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)

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • 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. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Speciation is the splitting of one ancestral lineage into two or more descendent lineages.

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.

Teacher background:

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