Final Assignment: the biology of bees!

k10336As a way to review for the final exam, the questions in this assignment apply concepts we’ve discussed to honey bees. Please submit this final homework assignment to the usual email address with the subject line “Final Assignment” by 4pm on Monday, May 2nd so that we can discuss these questions during class time if there is any interest in doing so.

Read chapters 1 – 4 of The Bee: A Natural History and answer the following questions with clear explanations. Mention (no need to formally cite) any sources of additional information you use in formulating your explanations.

12862_2013_Article_2375_Fig2_HTML1. Chapter 3 gives a nice description of the extent to which different bees are social. What is eusociality and how do you think group selection may have given rise to eusocial bees?
2. According to Wikipedia…

When a honey bee stings a person, it cannot pull the barbed stinger back out. It leaves behind not only the stinger, but also part of its abdomen and digestive tract, plus muscles and nerves. This massive abdominal rupture kills the honey bee. Honey bees are the only species of bees to die after stinging. This is clearly of detriment to an individual honey bee but could be highly beneficial to the hive.

How can the origins of this be explained with the evolution concepts we’ve discussed?
3. According to the reading, do honey bees and bumble bees share a common ancestor? Reference the specific part of the book that informs your answer.
4. The process by which an ancestral bee gave rise to the various species of honey bee is called
a. adaptive radiation b. deep time c. phylogeny d. symbiosis

Although the genetics of bees differs from that of humans, we can still use our knowledge of genetics and the Central Dogma to understand how the inheritance of traits occurs in honey bees. Using the chart and explanation in the book, answer the following questions.
1. How many sets of chromosomes does a queen honey bee have? How many chromosomes does a worker bee have? How many chromosomes does a drone bee have?  Continue reading

Final Exam Office Hours

Albert will have office hours for the final exam on

  • Monday May 2nd from 2:30 to 3:30pm in University Hall 2-005 and
  • Tuesday May 3rd from 1 to 2pm also in University Hall 2-005.

And Winnie will have office hours on

  • Friday, April 29th from 2:15 to 4:15pm in University Hall 2-129.

Drop by with your questions on material we’ve covered and/or old exam questions.

Class Prep For Apr. 25: human evolution & group selection

To wrap up our look at evolution, we’re going beyond what’s in our textbooks to look at some related topics that connect with more recent developments in Biology. The TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt below should provide a nice introduction to the concept of group selection, another means by which species can change over time. The portion of the TED Radio Hour will then give you a sense of how group selection may have shaped us as a species. Also included here are excerpts from The Social Conquest of Earth, in case you’d like to get more familiarized with group selection.

In Class Apr. 20th: selective pressures

colors-2-_custom-afc93498ec5df91f516ee25aa3141c750524cd16-s700-c85To consider the concept of selective pressure, we will…

  • Listen to this NPR news story about color and discuss these questions: (a) what selective pressure(s) are mentioned in the news story? (b) what is the result of the pressures?
  • Listen to the Weekend Edition news story “In Just 6 Generations, Butterflies Brighten Their Colors“, then consider (a) what selective pressures are being applied (b) by what or whom (c) resulting in what final outcome?

If you’re curious about the color-creating structures of butterfly wings mentioned in the NPR stories, give this Deep Look video a watch.

In Class Apr. 20th: the evolution of life in 60 seconds

  • This video will go by quickly, but try to take note of what catches your attention in this extremely fast fly-through of history of life on earth.

    Now that we’ve watched the video, let’s consider these questions:
  • Drawing upon on our discussion of cells and DNA as well as your own thoughts on the nature of life, why do you think it took so long for eukaryotic life to arise after prokaryotic life arose?
  • Why do you think there’s an explosion of diversity and complexity toward the end of this video?