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BEAGLE: Simulated Evolution

Found In: science, 9-12

BEAGLE (Biological Experiments in Adaptation, Genetics, Learning and Evolution): Simulated Evolution is a group of computer models and support materials designed to help in teaching concepts of evolution, adaptation, and natural and artificial selection. The models are categorized under population dynamics and ecosystems, artificial Selection, genetic drift, natural selection, coevolution and mimicry, economic and behavioral evolution, patterns of inheritance, and cellular automata. The models can be used by high school biology students or by teachers of younger students for demonstrations.

Simple Birth Rates models population genetics. Two distinct populations have settable birth rates. When the total population exceeds the carrying capacity of the terrain, agents die to maintain a constant population. The model explores how birth rates affect the ratio of one population to another.

Bird Breeder lets students breed a line of birds or dragons by managing a breeding program. As bird breeders, students breed for crest color, wing color, breast color, tail color, and sex. As a dragon breeders students breed for body color, breath type (frost, steam, or fire), breast color, tail shape, and sex.

Peppered Moths models natural selection. During the Industrial Revolution, trees in Manchester, England became discolored with soot. As a result, light-colored moths were more easily seen and dark-colored moths became more common. Students adjust parameters and observe the changing moth populations.

Mimicry models the evolution of monarchs and viceroys from distinguishable species to indistinguishable mimics and models.

Plant Hybridizationlets students conduct experiments in Mendelian genetics by cross-fertilizing flowering plants. Students can choose to cross-pollinate by hand or with bees. Plants can be over wintered in a greenhouse.



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