Quick summary: Speciation occurs when part of a population is reproductively isolated from the rest of the population (e.g. they do not interbreed), and over time become genetically unique. Their genetics become so different to the original population that if the two populations were reintroduced they either would not mate, or if they did, they would not produce viable offspring.
Lord Howe Island is one of few places where evidence of both allopatric and sympatric speciation has been found. Evidence for sympatric speciation can be more difficult to find, but has been documented on Lord Howe Island in two species of Howea palm, Howea Belmoreana and Howea Forsteriana.
In this fascinating, engaging biology lesson, students are guided through a model of speciation, taking an ancient flora or fauna from mainland Australia and thinking critically and creatively to apply selection pressures from a new environment and predict what traits will be magnified over many generations.
With thanks to Ian Hutton. Ian is a trained biologist, amongst many other skills, and has been living on Lord Howe Island since 1980. He is the author of 11 books on Lord Howe Island, including the most recent 264 page beautiful coffee table book on the World Heritage values of Lord Howe Island, contributed to some 60 papers and articles working with scientists across numerous fields, run a number of conservation and research project, and has been employed as a location guide for film documentary projects. If you are visiting Lord Howe Island, get in touch with Ian for a private guided tour, as he is keen to share his passion for the island and its environment.
- Students will understand the elements required for speciation to occur
- Students will understand how different environments provide selective pressures on organisms
- Students will understand how adaptations help organisms survive in their environment
- Students will understand how to identify traits that will be advantageous for specific environments.
21st century skills:
Australian Curriculum Mapping
Year 10 Science:
- The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185)
Syllabus outcomes: SC5-14LW
General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking
Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability
Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students evaluate the evidence for scientific theories that explain the origin of the universe and the diversity of life on Earth. They explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution.
This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Lord Howe Island – Years 8 & 10.
Time required: 85+ mins.
Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Facilitate a video analysis and class discussion, supervise groups and provide guidance during the activity.
- Art Supplies – coloured pencils and textas (optional)
- Device capable of presenting a video to the class
- Lord Howe Island speciation comparison images
- Printed environment descriptors – multiples may be needed depending on class size
- Student Worksheets – one copy per student.
Keywords: Evolution, speciation, adaptation, natural selection, game, introduced species, Lord Howe Island, habitats, environmentalism, conservatorship.
Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.