I’m excited to announce that we’ve finished a new SimBio Virtual Lab called Finches and Evolution. This major update to our old Islands and Selection lab uses the classic study system of beak depth and width of Darwin’s Finches to introduce quantitative population genetics. It’s loosely based on the work of the Grants and their students in the Galapagos, as nicely summarized in the famous book Beak of the Finch.
In the SimBio lab, students investigate selection on quantitative traits, how selection is affected by genetic diversity, and the effects of correlation between traits. Then in the final experiments, students are challenged to get a single population of finches to diverge into two sub-populations adapted to different environments. It’s pretty fun – once you get the conditions right, you see incipient speciation happening right there on the screen.
If I’ve piqued your interest, we’d love for you to take a peek at Finches and Evolution. To make that easy, I’ve set up a temporary open-access login on our SimUText system. Just go to the following web page for instructions:[Edit: to try a Preview version of Finches and Evolution or any module in our inventory, please fill out a Request for Evaluation Software. Thanks!]
If you’d like to try the lab this spring, get in touch, and we can set up your class with the lab in exchange for some feedback.