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BATS IN THE BELFRY (AND OTHER PLACES!)

Grades 7 - 12

Overview

In this lesson students will be given a "diary" kept by Robert Darwin (Charles' younger brother) in which he describes and draws pictures of 5 species of bats discovered while shipwrecked on a deserted island. The students' tasks involve giving each bat a scientific name (taxonomic), predicting the food consumed by each species (hypothesis), and explaining the existence of these species (found no where else on the earth) based on ecology, adaptation, and filling a niche.

Note: The original author of this lesson was Robert Keltos; it has been extensively modified by Sandra Latourelle with the author's permission. This lesson is designed for High School biology but could be used for advanced track middle school or as a tool in AP Biology to discover student misconceptions before teaching the topic of evolution.

ITV Series
Animal Life Series: "How We Classify Animals," and "Animal Communities" Animals and How They Live: "Bats and How They Live"
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Materials
Vocabulary
Divide students into groups of 4. Working relationships should include a chief investigator, a graphics expert, a researcher and an analysis expert.

Introduce this topic by asking students if they have ever seen bats flying at night, at zoos or perhaps on television programs. (The Biosphere in Montreal, Canada is an excellent place to see a real bat cave with real bats.) Ask them to brainstorm bat characteristics. If it is not brought out during the brainstorming, ask students what they believe bats eat. Use photos and models or even children's books such as "Stella Luna" and "Extremely Weird Bats."
Distribute student lab packets. DO NOT include the "lost pages" of Robert Darwin.

Explain tot he students that there has been a grave injustice done to Charles Darwin's younger brother, Robert. You can remind them of the injustices in the past (Rosalind Franklin - Watson and Crick, Wallace - Charles Darwin) where one person gets all the credit when, in reality, others were equally responsible fort he discoveries. Not a bad idea to talk about ho cooperative and collaborative learning needs full participation by ALL members. Although Charles is given the credit for his "finches," Robert's equally detailed notes on bats goes unnoticed. Tell them your own personal crusade is to undo this wrong and you are asking their help in this venture.

What you will need from them is to take Robert Darwin's notes and show how they could have been used to formulate a theory of Natural Selection that his older brother Charles "borrowed."
Focus Viewing

First Segment

To successfully complete the naming of bats, students must rely on the process of classification whereby living things are grouped scientifically according to their similarities and evolutionary analysis. ANIMAL LIFE SERIES: "How We Classify Animals" segments will reinforce these concepts. TO give students a specific focus for viewing, distribute the worksheet entitled "Questions to be Answered while Viewing" and direct students tot he first question.

Second Segment

Explain that students will review the concept of ecology by viewing segment of ANIMAL LIFE SERIES: "Animal Communities." Mini-concepts should reinforce how the size of one population affects the size of another, how a niche fits into a habitat, and the interaction between living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem. To give students a specific focus for viewing, call attention to the next question on the handout, #4 "Can you define the term ecology?'"

Third Segment

Students will view ANIMALS AND HOW THEY LIVE "Bats and How They Live." To give students a specific focus for viewing, call their attention to question #9 on their handout, and direct them to look for another term for "evolved."

First Segment

BEGIN viewing at the title graphic. PAUSE after "...put in some kind of order."

Focus students attention on the question, "Why is it vital to group animals?" Answer: There are so many animals and they must be grouped to know and understand them. Review the fact that the smallest group organisms can be placed in is known as a species.

Focus students on the next item on their worksheet and RESUME VIEWING and PAUSE at the word "classification.

Question students, "What grouping system is used to name animals?" Answer: Classification which is also known as taxonomy.
Question: "Upon what is this system based?" Answer: Classification is based on similar traits or features. STOP TAPE.

Second Segment

BEGIN viewing the beginning of the tape, PAUSE after the section on living and non-living. Remind students that living is biotic and non-living is abiotic. RESUME TAPE.

Focus on environment and ecology by PAUSING after the vocabulary word ecology.

Ask, "Can you define the term ecology?" Answer: The study of living things and their environment.

Call students attention to #5 on their handout, "Ecosystem", and tell them to find specific examples in the video. RESUME PLAY.

Focus on the term ecosystem by PAUSING after "...large as an ocean." Ask, "What is an ecosystem?" Answer: The interactions of living things and non-living things in the environment. Ask for specific examples. RESUME PLAY.

Focus on community and population by PAUSING after the vocabulary term population.

Ask, "What is the difference between a population and a community?" Answer: A population is all the animals of the same species living in a given area and a community is all the populations of plants and animals living together int he ecosystem. Ask for specific examples from the class. Now give students a specific focus for viewing by calling attention to question #7 about habitats. RESUME PLAY and PAUSE at the vocabulary term habitat.

Ask, "What kinds of habitats might be found on a tropical island?" Possible answers: Coral reef, tidal pools, mountains, lush vegetation, barren rock, rivers, water falls and caves, etc. Ask students to identify "niche' next. RESUME PLAY.

Focus on niche by STOPPING TAPE at "...same habitat, same grass, but for zebra and wildebeest different niches."

Ask, "What is a niche?" Answer: The way an animal fits into its habitat or the role it plays in its habitat.

Third Segment

START TAPE; PAUSE at "...evolved into wings."

Ask, "What is another term for evolved'?" Answer: Change. This is a good place to bring up gradualism vs. Punctuated equilibrium. Now focus students' attention by asking them to think about the term that can used to describe the following characteristic in bats and RESUME PLAY. PAUSE after the section that discusses the bat digesting quickly and weight discussion. Ask students what vocabulary term fits this characteristic. Answer: Adaptation. Call attention to the last question on the handout and RESUME PLAY.

PAUSE after "...named for appearance." Ask students what vocabulary term fits the naming'. Answer: classification or taxonomy. FAST FORWARD to the very end and show the remainder from where the moon and tall grass appear on the screen. STOP TAPE.
Remind students that armed with vocabulary terms reviewed in watching video clips, and using their scientific minds, they will be engaging in an investigation and explorative process.

Students will work in groups of 4 and only one set of complete answers will be turned in per group.

Each group of four people will appoint a chief investigator, a graphics expert, a researcher and an analysis expert.

Procedure:
After reading R. Darwin's diary (entries provided to the students) the students are asked to make several hypotheses. Have the cooperative learning roups come to consensus on each prediction and record their predictions in the Lab Packet under Data Analysis and Interpretations. Groups will share their findings and compare them to Darwin's final lost pages which describe the characteristics and food of each bat.

1. Your first task is to give each species of bat a Genus and species name.
Your "researcher" should investigate how scientists name organisms. It
would be helpful to research the scientific name of bats. Record their names and rationale for the names in the space provided under analysis and Interpretation. Don't be afraid to seek out an expert in Latin.

2. Based on the food available on the island and the bat's adaptations, make a hypothesis about the type of food each species of bat would consume. Support each of your hypotheses with valid reasons.

3. Based on the characteristics you observe in Darwin's drawings, describe what you think is the ecological niche of each bat. Your researcher should be able to find information on ecological niches in your biology book, or in the library reference section.

4. Now read the "lost" pages and compare your predictions to R. Darwin's observations.

5. Because of your excellent work in biology so far this year, you have been selected by Scientific American magazine to write an article about the bats. Select one bat and describe how this bat may have evolved its adaptations from an ancestor bat from the mainland. The editor has requested that your article contain the following concepts which will be highlighted in this issue: "Variations", "Survival of the Fittest", "Geographic Isolation" and "Speciation." Remember your answer should be in the form of a scientific article. It might include at least one graph and diagram, and any other supporting evidence or visuals you need. Make use of the members of the group to divide the task. (Be Creative!)
Extensions
LANGUAGE ARTS:
Read "Interview with a Vampire" or "Dracula" and discuss how fictitious associations have created misinformation about bats.

Create a bat "fact or fiction?" album with artwork and information.

GEOGRAPHY:
Compare topographical, habitat and climate maps with a map you have colored to reflect the range of any species of bat. Compare the characteristics of that species with the land characteristics and predict where you would find the largest population of bats.

REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED READINGS:
Bailey, Wendy J, Jerry L Slighton and Morris Goodman, "Rejection Of the Flying Primate' Hypothesis by Phylogenetic Evidence From the Eta-globin Gene," Science, Vol. 256, April 3, 92 p 86 (4)

Brooke, Anne, "Sure-footed bats", Natural History, vol. 101, Oct 92, p 60 (4)

Gibbons, Ann, "Is flying primate' Hypothesis Headed for Crash Landing?", Science, vol 256, April 3, 92, p 34 (1)

Goodman, Billy, "Holy phylogeny! Did bats evolve twice?" (John Pettigrew's diphyletic hypothesis)", Science, vol. 253, Jul 5 91, p 36 (1)

Novacek, Michael, "Navigators of the Night," Natural History, vol. 97, Oct 88,
p 66 (6)

Pennisi, Elizabeth, "Gone Batty: Illuminating the Murky World of Tropical Bats," Science News, vol. 145, Apr 30 94, p 284 (2)

Roots, Clive, Animals of the Dark, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974, pp 101-13

Walker, Tim, "Bat Breath Adds Fuel to Evolutionary Flap," Science News, vol. 139, Apr 13 91, p 231 (1)

Thewissen, J.G.M. a and S.K. Babcock, "Distinctive cranial and cervical innervation of wing muscles: new evidence for bat monophyly,", Science, vol 251, Feb 22 91, p 934 (3)

Yalden, D.W. and P.A. Morris, The Lives of Bats. New York: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1975

If you have enjoyed this laboratory experience, please notify me or the ITV staff at Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting for episodes 2 through 4 as they are "in the works!"

Sandra Latourelle
409 Rugar Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
(518) 561-4833

Master Teacher: Sandra Latourelle
Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting/Plattsburgh, NY


NOTE TO TEACHER

Evolution is the central, unifying theme of biology. It has been used a s a foundation for philosophical, ethical and assorted social views. In its most realistic context, however, evolution should be thought of as the changes observed in populations or organisms that go beyond the lifetime of a single individual. It is descent with modifications in structure, function, and behavior through many generations of time. Adaptation, i.e. the "fit" of the organism to the environment, results from natural selection. Other processes, whoever, also affect how groups of organisms change with time, and may sometimes be important in evolution.

The diversity of life on earth today is a result of such evolutionary processes. Evidence supporting evolution, anatomy, embryology, biochemistry and behavior comes from a number of independent lines, and includes the fossil record, patterns of distribution of species and homology as revealed by comparative morphology.

Bats are classified in a separate order of mammals - the Chiroptera or "hand wing." Of all the orders of mammals, only the rodents have more species. Most bats eat insects but some have evolved to eat fruits, nectar, pollen, small vertebrates, fish and even blood. They are divided into 2 main suborders - the Megachiroptera and the Microchiroptera. The Megachiroptera is only comprised of one family (Old World fruit bats) while Microchiroptera is composed of 16 families (found in both the Old and New Worlds). Bar anatomy is basically like that of any other mammal. The major differences are the length of the forearm and fingers and the presence of skin between them.

Bats are classified in a separate order of mammals - the Chiroptera or "hand wing." Of all the orders of mammals, only the rodents have more species. Most bats eat insects but some have evolved to eat fruits, nectar, pollen, small vertebrates, fish and even blood. They are divided into 2 main suborders - the Megachiroptera and the Microchiroptera. The Megachiroptera is only comprised of one family (Old World fruit bats) while Microchiroptera is composed of 16 families (found in both the Old and New Worlds). Bar anatomy is basically like that of any other mammal. The major differences are the length of the forearm and fingers and the presence of skin between them.




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