Biological Anthology Genetics & Evolution of Human Populations

Lab reports in this class will reflect academic publications. For each report you are required to write a brief introduction, materials/methods, results, and discussion/conclusion. Your report should be in the ballpark of 1,000 words.

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Introduction: This section should review the context of the lab, the research question, and significance. Essentially you will tell me what the research is about, what the goals are, and why it is of interest. This is not to be treated as bullet points. Introductions are designed to keep the readers interest.

Materials/Methods: This section can be a bit more cut-and-dry. Explain the research design (what is the procedure), what data is being used and why.

Results: The results section is also straightforward. Simply report on the data. You do not need to interpret the data here, just express how it worked out.

Discussion/Conclusion: Here is where you can interpret the data and pair it with your introduction. Thus, you will reflect on how your goals were achieved, the answer to your research question, and how the outcome is significant to our understanding of the larger context. In this section you will need to apply concepts from the previous readings/lectures of this unit. Please reflect on our lessons and identify where some concepts apply to this lab. For any concept you reference there should be a definition and an explanation of its application to the current study.

Natural Selection and the Galapagos Finches

Access the Lab Exercise from Lab 2: Genetics and Evolution of Human Populations. Read the background content and complete the lab exercise. I suggest taking notes through the whole process (it isn’t overly demanding). Pay attention to the context of the research, its significance, all dataset material, and the conclusions. You should ask yourself, “what did I learn from this?” and “how does this relate to our previous lesson?”.

In this activity, you are studying finch variation on Daphne Major during the 1977 drought. It becomes immediately apparent that some finches are dying from drought conditions while some are not. You want to know why. It has already been long established that finches are variable in beak size and so you want to determine whether or not beak size is influencing the survivorship of these birds. To do so, you begin measuring the beak depth of living and recently dead individuals.

After 35 measurements, you have a good idea of which beak shapes survived the drought and which ones did not. Thus, you have calculated what percentage of individuals with each beak depth survived. To convey the survivorship, you plot your data on a graph using a subsample of eight individuals. You plot each beak size from the subsample according to how many individuals (from the larger sample) survived the drought.

The results of this study should reflect a survivorship curve. This is a graphical representation of the number of individuals within a population that survive to a given age or through a catastrophic event. The data gleaned from the survivorship curve will then allow you to interpret how selection is acting on the Finch population of Daphne Major (the Lab material mistakenly labeled the island as Daphne Mayor…typos happen).

The results of your study must be conveyed in the format of a short academic paper. See the parameters above.

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