Students will simulate the evolution of a fictional bird species, the Bartulina, as it adapts from a rather sedentary land based bird to a far-soaring fierce hunter of aquatic life. As students watch evolution happen before their very eyes, they will learn how genetic mutations can help a species adapt….or die.
You will start by setting up the birds' environment.
Bartulina birds can vary in their body length, wing length, and tail length. The first generation of birds will have randomly assigned attributes. See the attached Inkscape Template for the design of the bird wings, body, and tail.
Time for the First Generation of Bartulina to go out in search for food. The ones who are able to fly the farthest are most likely to get access to the dwindling food supply. The ones who cannot fly as far, unfortunately, will not get enough food to survive and mate.
The surviving birds will have offspring with similar traits (wing length, body length, and tail length). As genes are passed down, there are sometimes small mutations. A dice roll will simulate this process in our bird population
As before, Gen 2 birds will go out looking for food. This time, they have stronger competition, as the other birds in this generation are the offspring of strong parents.
Continue this process of launching, collecting the survivors, passing traits with mutations, and creating the next bird generation. With each new generation, make observations as to how the average distance flown changes.