Pika Body Size & Adaptation

Summary:  This multi-part lesson focuses on natural selection of body size in pika populations. Part 1 focuses on the importance of body size in animal thermoregulation, using geometry to assess heat loss in different size pikas. Part 2 is an exercise in natural selection, in which students simulate several generations of pikas and how the population’s average body size changes depending on the environment they are in. Part 3 allows students to analyze and graph real pika body size data and interpret their results.

Learning Goals:     After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

1. Use geometry to demonstrate why the body size of an animal affects its ability to thermoregulate.
2. Be able to explain the concept of natural selection and the four requirements necessary for natural selection to occur
3. Summarize data using averages and graphs in Google Spreadsheets
4. Develop methods to analyze a new data set and explain the trends found in the data


* Lesson plans are available in .doc format for easy customization. This lesson includes 4 sections for easy download. Please contact us with any questions or problems.



Colorado State Standards Addressed:

Sixth Grade
• Life Science 1. Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms, populations, and entire species.
• Mathematics 1-1. Quantities can be expressed and compared using ratios and rates.
• Mathematics 3-1. Visual displays and summary statistics of one-variable data condense the information in data sets into useable knowledge.

Seventh Grade
• Life Science 1. Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring in a specific environment.
• Mathematics 1-1. Proportional reasoning involves comparisons and multiplicative relationships among ratios.
• Mathematics 3-2. Mathematical models are used to determine probability.
• Mathematics 4-2. Linear measure, angle measure, area, and volume are fundamentally different and require different units of measure.

Eighth Grade
• Life Science 2. Organisms reproduce and transmit genetic information (genes) to offspring, which influences individuals’ traits in the next generation.
• Mathematics 3-1. Visual displays and summary statistics of two-variable data condense the information in data sets into usable knowledge.

High School
• Life Science 6. Cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems maintain relatively stable environments, even in the face of changing external environments.
• Life Science 9. Evolution occurs as the heritable characteristics of populations change across generations and can lead populations to become better adapted to their environment.
• Mathematics 3-1. Visual displays and summary statistics condense the information in data sets into usable knowledge.
• Mathematics 3-3. Probability models outcomes for situations in which there is inherent randomness.
• Mathematics 4-4. Attributes of two- and three-dimensional objects are measureable and can be quantified.
• Mathematics 4-5. Objects in the real world can be modeled using geometric concepts.