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Natural Selection Lab Report

Title: Natural Selection Lab Report by Ceami Passey


Introduction: People have been interested in the process of natural
selection for many years. Research is always being done to better
understand what happens when a species evolves. One of the most wellknown researches done on natural selection, is that of Darwins finches, or
the Galapagos Island finches. Studies are still being made today regarding
the finches on the islands. I was able to find two articles that gave a little
extra detail about the research that was done in the past, and the research
that is still being done today. Both of the articles have multiple authors or
scientists that contributed to what was said.
In the article about the research being done presently about the
finches, the authors are all scientists and researchers in respected fields that
have to do with evolution, or the study of birds.1 Some of them are still alive,
and researching about other factors that have to do with evolution. In the
factual article I read, professors from anthropology, zoology, or ecology all
contributed to the evidence written from Darwins study of the finches.2 Both
of these articles are up to date, and gave adequate information that would
be good to know about evolution and the role it plays in the finches on the
Galapagos islands. In What Darwin's Finches Can Teach Us about the
Evolutionary Origin and Regulation of Biodiversity3, it stated that currently
there is a parasite attacking the finches, so they are studying what it is doing
to the birds, and how it will affect the evolutionary process. Throughout the
articles, and after the conclusions, credit is given to where something was
found, or to who researched a certain topic. From these two articles I was
1 (Kleindorfer)
2 (Abbott)
3 (Grant and Grant)

able to learn a little bit more about the research Darwin did for natural
selection, and the research that is still being done for it.
During class, for our Natural Selection Lab, I predicted that by the end of our
experiment the tweezer beaks would have the most success at collecting
seeds. The way I came to this hypothesis was based on my experience with
using tweezers, and the other materials we used to represent beaks. I knew
tweezers had a small point, so I reckoned this would help pick up the small
sunflower seeds. I did not think a hairclip would be successful, for the fact
that there was adequate space between the throngs, and that it wouldnt be
able to have a tight grip on something so small. As I was deciding what my
hypothesis would be, I thought about all the materials, and the experiences I
have had with them, to help me decide if it would be ideal at picking up a
small object quickly or not.
Materials and Methods: During this experiment we used seven different
materials to represent the different types of beak sizes. The beaks we had
were tweezers, hairclips, clothes pins, chopsticks, chip clips, binder clips, and
tongs. Sunflower seeds were also used to be a representation for the diet of
the birds. We also used a timer to help us know when to begin eating, and
when to stop.
During this experiment every row was given a different type of beak,
either a tweezer, hairclip, clothes pin, chopstick, chip clip, binder clip, or
tong. On our tables, seeds were scattered all over to work as our
environment, and small cups were in front of us to serve as our stomachs. In
the experiment there was five rounds, each one-minute-long, and we had to
eat, or place, as many seeds as we could into our cups. While using our
beaks we were only allowed to pick up one seed at a time, and when the
one-minute timer went off, we had to stop eating. Then each bird, or
participant, in the experiment would count up how many seeds they had
eaten. The professor would then ask who ate the least amount of seeds and
who ate the most amount. The three people who ate the least and the three

people who ate the most would then go to the front of the room with their
beaks. Those who ate the least amount of seeds would have to give up their
beaks, but they would get a beak similar to the people who ate the most
seeds. So if those who ate the most had one hairclip, one tweezer and one
chip clip, then those who lost their beaks would either get a hairclip, a
tweezer, or chip clip. Once everyone went back to their seats, the
experiment would be done again until the five rounds had been completed.
In the third round there was a mutation in the beaks, so instead of a chip clip
beak developing, a tong beak developed.

Results:

Tweezers
Hairclips
Clothes
pins
Chopstick
s
Chip clips
Binder
clips
Tongs
Total

Begin

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

5
5
5

7
5
4

8
5
3

10
4
2

11
4
2

11
4
2

5
2

6
2

7
1

8
1

9
0

9
0

0
27

0
27

1
27

1
27

1
27

1
27

Natural Selection Lab


12
10
8
6
4
2
0

Begin

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Tweezers

Hairclips

Clothes Pins

Chip clips

Binder clips

Tongs

Round 4

Round 5

Chopsticks

At the beginning of the experiment there were 5 tweezers, hair clips,


clothes pins, chopsticks, and chip clips, 2 binder clips, and no tongs.
Throughout the experiment the numbers changed, either going up or down.
After the first round there was 7 tweezers, 5 hairclips, 4 clothes pins, 3
chopsticks, 6 chip clips, 2 binder clips, and still no tongs. After the second
round there was 8 tweezers, 5 hair clips, 3 clothes pins, 2 chop sticks, 7 chip
clips, 1 binder clip, and 1 tong. At the end of the third round there was 10
tweezers, 4 hair clips, 2 clothes pins, 1 chopstick, 8 chip clips, 1 binder clip,
and 1 tong. After the fourth round there was 11 tweezers, 4 hair clips, 2
clothes pins, no more chopsticks, 9 chip clips, no more binder clips, and 1
tong. By round 5 there were 11 tweezers, 4 hair clips, 2 clothes pins, no
chopsticks, 9 chip clips, no binder clips, and 1 tong. Throughout the
experiment there was always a total of 27 beak types.
Conclusion: At the end of the experiment I found out that the data
supported my hypothesis. Before the activity I had predicted that the
tweezer beaks would be the most successful at gathering seeds. In the data

it is proven that the tweezer beaks slowly produced more and more tweezer
beaks. By the end, there were more tweezer beaks than any other beak; 41%
of the beaks were tweezer beaks.
During an experiment there are factors that could impact the results. A
small factor could be if someone didnt have good hand/eye coordination.
This could have caused the results to be a little different, rather than if every
person were perfectly coordinated. Another aspect that could cause the
results to change, is if a person would cheat during the experiment, and not
follow all the rules as they should. Stress plays a role in determining whether
the results of an experiment stay constant or not. Stress could come from
being worried about how the experiment would go, and if the person would
be able to prove their hypothesis.4 An important aspect during an experiment
is to keep the components of the experiment consistent. If one person were
to start with 5 tweezers, and another with 6, it would make each end result
different.
Replicating an experiment helps add validity to the data. When only
one experiment is done there is a possibility of errors, so it helps to repeat an
experiment to take the error out and really pin point the truest solution5. It
also helps with noticing all perspectives of an experiment, proving all factors
are true. The more a hypothesis is proven to support the data, the closer it is
to becoming a theory.
Discussion: The scientific method is when something is observed or
experimented on. For instance, the Galapagos Island finches were observed
by Darwin, and then an experiment was done to show how over time the
more favorable/useful beak types would appear more. In the scientific
method a hypothesis is formed concerning observations or knowledge about
a certain kind of research; a hypothesis is like an educated guess. After the
4 (Sorensen)
5 (Skene)

hypothesis is formed, an experiment, is done to either prove the hypothesis


was valid or invalid. During the experiment observations are made, and data
is collected. At the end of the experiment a conclusion is drawn, stating if the
experiment supported or rejected the hypothesis. Then all the steps are
repeated to help validate the hypothesis.
The scientific method is not just used by scientists, it is also used by
the different subfields in anthropology, those who study culture, chefs, new
reporters, and even everyday people6. Not all people use the scientific
method exactly the same, but most start out with a guess towards
something. A certain field will make a hypothesis of how they think
something will turn out, and then they will test it to see if there were right or
wrong. There are many fields that most people wouldnt think used the
scientific method, but since it is done is so many different ways, there is
almost an endless list of all the fields that use it.
During this activity I predicted what I thought would be the end result,
and then as a class we did the experiment. We had been learning about
natural selection for about a week, so I knew enough to guess that the
tweezer beak type would be the most successful, and survive the most. By
the end of the experiment I was able to discover that the data supported my
hypothesis. If any other researcher wanted, they could repeat this
experiment and most likely get the same results.
The theory of evolution by natural selection is that overtime the
favorable variation, or trait, increases in frequency in a population. There are
four underlying assumptions to this; variation, inheritance, competition, and
differential reproductive stress. Variation means the difference in traits that
are passed on. Inheritance is the certain type of trait inherited, or passed on
to the offspring. Competition is referring to how many of the offspring will

6 (Bull and Pease)

survive with a certain trait. The differential reproductive stress is what


determines whether an offspring with a certain trait will survive or not.
In our activity we stimulated evolution by natural selection, and found
out that overtime the tweezer beaks would increase in the population. This
discovery is known as the outcome to the experiment. There was variation in
the types of beaks present in the population. A certain beak type would be
inherited by the offspring, the most common being the tweezers. We learned
that we had more birds than would survive, since all the seeds would be
eaten by the end of a round. The birds with the tweezer beaks are more
likely to survive and leave offspring. Through evolution by natural selection
we learned that overtime there would be more tweezer beaks in a population
than any other beak. This beak type was able to survive better than the
others, that is why the trait was passed on so often, causing the frequency of
it to grow in the population.