This assignment will be a short report about a specific species chosen by you- this species (a) MUST be a NON-PRIMATE LAND MAMMAL, (b) MUST be a wild species, not a domesticated animal species bred by humans (horses, cows, dogs, etc.) and (c)
MUST NOT be a large animal that is an exclusive carnivore- like a lion, tiger, wolf, bear, etc.- and thus has little danger of becoming “dinner” for some other species. It is important to report on a species that faces the danger of predation (being eaten) and has adapted to try to cope with it. Check with me if you are not sure.
Sources of information on the species you choose ought to be plentiful on line, allowing you to study the species’ characteristics. To prepare this report, you will need to be familiar with the mechanisms or processes that allow natural selection to improve the “fit” of members of a particular species to their local environment. In addition, you should have clear understanding of the two different definitions of how a population of animals can be classified as belonging to a single species- either because of shared Phenotype (similar anatomy and behavior) or shared Genotype (having sufficiently similar genetic makeup that males and
females can reproduce non-sterile offspring).
Names: This paragraph should include the common name and genus and species name of the species that you chose.
Location and Environment: In preparing your report, you will want to specify (1) the geographical range within which your species is found, and (2) the kind of environment that the species lives in.
Reproduction and Life Cycle: You will want to briefly describe (3) the life-cycle of members of the species- (a) how they reproduce, including the approximate number of young produced per mating season or year, (b) the approximate lapse of time before an individual is mature enough to reproduce, and (c) the average lifespan. This information will indicate whether reproduction is based on having lots of offspring with a few surviving to reproduce (r-selection), or having fewer offspring with more maternal care and a better chance of surviving to reproduce (k-selection). You will keep in mind that successful reproduction is what successful adaptation to the environment (and evolution) is all about. If your species doesn’t reproduce successfully, it will
Accessing a Food Supply: You will also want to specify (4) the major food source or sources for your species. You will want to pay particular attention to whether your species appears to have a “Generalized” diet – having a wide range of food sources, or a more “Specialized” diet, emphasizing a few or only one food source. If your species specializes in a food source, this may have occurred through natural selection so that your species avoids competing with related species over other food sources, and becomes highly adapted to getting and using a single food source more efficiently than other species can. You will also want to indicate
whether your sources have suggested that your species is classified as a separate species (separate from other closely-related species) mainly because your species has specialized in a particular food supply, and not because it is incapable of successfully inter-breeding with the related species. In this case your species is a separate grouping based on its PHENOTYPE being different, not its GENOTYPE being different, from closely related species.
Avoiding Predators: Most animal species face the problem of becoming an item on the dinner menu of other species- being eaten by them- this is the problem of “Predation” by other species. Only certain predator species may completely avoid this problem (like a cheetah or jaguar). If your species has to avoid being eaten, please indicate what information you found about what other species
may try to eat them, and effective or unusual characteristics of anatomy and behavior (PHENOTYPE) that your species has that helps members of the species avoid getting eaten. Most of the non-predator species of mammals that you can choose from do have some noteworthy characteristic or trait that has developed through natural selection that helps them avoid predators. You will want to indicate what this characteristic is and how it helps members of the species avoid being eaten.
Summary: Natural Selection and Adaptation:
You will want to conclude your report by a SUMMARY. THIS WILL INCLUDE TWO PARTS!
PART ONE- YOU WILL PROVIDE A PARAGRAPH DISCUSSING THE “STEPS” OR “PROCESS” OF NATURAL SELECTION, AS PRESENTED IN CLASS, EXPLAINING HOW NATURAL SELECTION WORKS. I NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU UNDERSTAND HOW NATURAL SELECTION WORKS.
INSTRUCTIONS CONTINUE ON THE NEXT PAGE BELOW
Introduction to Biological Anthropology
PART TWO: You will highlight or summarize aspects or elements of the way that your species lives and fits into its environment (that is, successfully adapts to its environment) that seem clearly- from what your sources say- to be due to Natural Selection changing the anatomy and behavior (PHENOTYPE) of the ancestors of your current living species members in the direction of having a better fit to the environment. This may mean that members of your species a) are generally better adapted to their current environment than their ancestors were (perhaps they have moved into a new environment that is different from the environment of their ancestors) b) they have adapted to their current environment through specialization in their food supply, or c) they have adapted to their current environment through developing special traits that help them to avoid predators. Some species may have evidence of all three of these kinds of changes. Many of the mammal species will have evidence of at least one of these three scenarios. If you are not sure, you can say so in your summary.
(1) Your report should have one or more paragraphs covering EACH the above topic headings.
(2) EACH OF THE DATA TOPIC HEADING THAT APPEAR ABOVE IN THE INSTRUCTIONS (EXAMPLES:
Location and Environment, Accessing a Food Supply, Avoiding Predators, ETC., ETC. ) MUST BE USED IN YOUR DATA REPORT AS THE SECTION HEADING TO START THE SECTION OF THE REPORT DEALING WITH THAT SPECIFIC DATA TOPIC. DO NOT IGNORE THIS REQUIREMENT!
(3) At the end of the report you should include references to your major sources of information-
(4) there should be textual citations of sources in the text of EACH data heading. Note the format for on-line sources in the Writing Guide. THE WRITING GUIDE deals with textual citation and reference formats and how to write readable and well-laid out paragraphs.
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