EVOLUTION IN HAWAII

A SUPPLEMENT TO TEACHING ABOUT EVOLUTION AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE

by Steve Olson

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu



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Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science EVOLUTION IN HAWAII A SUPPLEMENT TO TEACHING ABOUT EVOLUTION AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE by Steve Olson NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 This study was supported by funds from the Council of the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08991-3 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-52657-4 (PDF) Additional copies of this publication are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, www.nap.edu. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Suggested citation: National Academy of Sciences. (2004). Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, by Steve Olson. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Contents     Preface   vii     HAWAII IS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO STUDY BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION   1     BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION EXPLAINS THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HAWAII’S PLANTS AND ANIMALS   3     SCIENCE PRODUCES EXPLANATIONS THAT CAN BE TESTED USING EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE   4     SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH HAS REVEALED HOW THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS ORIGINATED   5     THE EVOLUTION OF LIFE ON EARTH SET THE STAGE FOR EVOLUTION IN HAWAII   10     Panel 1:   Plate Tectonics and the Ages of the Hawaiian Islands   12     AN ADAPTIVE RADIATION HAS LED TO A DRAMATIC DIVERSIFICATION OF THE DROSOPHILIDS IN HAWAII   14     Panel 2:   Evolutionary Relationships Among the Picture-Winged Drosophilids   18     MANY OTHER SPECIES HAVE UNDERGONE ADAPTIVE RADIATIONS IN HAWAII   20     Panel 3:   The Evolutionary History of the Silversword Alliance   22     ALIEN SPECIES POSE A SEVERE THREAT TO HAWAII’S NATIVE PLANTS AND ANIMALS   25     MANY CRITICAL PROBLEMS CANNOT BE ADDRESSED WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION   26     Selected Bibliography   28     Teaching Exercise: Tracing the Evolutionary Origins of Picture-Winged Drosophila Species   29      TEACHER’S MANUAL   29      DATA TABLES   41      STUDENT READING   42      STUDENT WORKSHEET   45     Index   48

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Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Preface As individuals and societies, we are now making decisions that will have profound consequences for future generations. How should we balance the need to preserve the earth’s plants, animals, and natural environment against other pressing concerns? Should we alter our use of fossil fuels and other natural resources to enhance the well-being of our descendants? To what extent should we use our new understanding of biology on a molecular level to alter the characteristics of living things, including people? None of these decisions can be made wisely without a thorough understanding of life’s history on this planet. People need to know why living things have the characteristics they do, how those characteristics originated, and whether living things will continue to change in the future. In short, they need to understand biological evolution. Yet the teaching of evolution continues to be opposed on religious grounds in schools throughout the United States. Opponents of evolution assert that the scientific justification for evolution is lacking, when in fact the occurrence of evolution is supported by overwhelming evidence. Legislators and schools boards insert wording into laws, lesson plans, and textbooks mandating that evolution be taught as a controversial explanation of life’s history, though no such characterization is scientifically warranted. In some places, tremendous pressure has been exerted on teachers and school administrators to downplay or eliminate the teaching of evolution. As a result, many students are not being exposed to information they will need to make informed decisions about their own lives and about our collective future. In 1998 the National Academy of Sciences, a private, nonpartisan group of scholars that provides advice to the nation on issues involving science and engineering, released a book entitled Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Through scientific examples, teaching exercises, and dialogues among teachers, Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science summarizes the observational evidence for evolution, demonstrates how the teaching of evolution can be used to illuminate the nature of science, addresses common misconceptions about the teaching of evolution, and offers guidance on how to choose classroom materials. Evolution in Hawaii is a supplement to that earlier book. It examines evolution and the nature of science by looking at a specific part of the world—the Hawaiian islands. Islands are especially good places to see evolution in action. When plants, animals, or microbes travel from a continent to an island, they are separated from the other members of their species and often encounter a biological and ecological setting different from what they left behind. If the organisms that reach an island survive and produce descendants, those descendants may evolve along

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Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science different pathways than would have been the case elsewhere. By studying these evolutionary pathways, biologists have been able to draw powerful conclusions about evolution’s occurrence, mechanisms, and courses. To give students an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of evolution, this book contains a teaching exercise similar to the ones contained in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Using real genetic data from 18 species of Drosophila flies in Hawaii, students draw evolutionary trees depicting the relationships of the species and investigate the link between speciation and the ages of the Hawaiian islands. By letting students explore the mechanisms involved in the origin of species, the teaching exercise demonstrates how descent from a common ancestor can produce organisms with widely varying characteristics. This publication has been designed specifically to supplement a broader consideration of evolution. By exploring a particular example in depth, it illuminates the general principles of evolutionary biology and demonstrates how ongoing research is continuing to expand our knowledge of the natural world. A related book, Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd Edition (National Academy of Sciences, 1999), considers at greater length the arguments used by those who oppose the teaching of evolution in public schools. (Science and Creationism is available on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu/books/0309064066/html.) The text of this publication was written by Steve Olson with input and assistance from Hampton Carson, Elysse Craddock, and Kenneth Kaneshiro. It was reviewed by a panel of scientists and educators that included Francisco Ayala, Wayne Carley, Gerald Carr, Brent Dalrymple, Timothy Goldsmith, Valdine McLean, Eric Meikle, Kenneth Miller, Leslie Pierce, Barbara Schulz, Rachel Wood, and Peter Vitousek. Erika Shugart and Jay Labov managed the project and contributed substantially to the development of the text. They were assisted by Dimitria Satterwhite, Kirsten Sampson Snyder, and Yvonne Wise. Additional thanks are extended to Rachel Marcus, Will Mason, Dan Parham, and Sally Stanfield at the National Academies Press for their work on the production of this book and Anne Rogers for the design and layout. The teaching exercise was developed through the collaborative efforts of Hampton Carson and Kenneth Kaneshiro of the University of Hawaii; Elysse Craddock of Purchase College, State University of New York; LeslieAnn Pierce, Diane DeFalco, and Jay Calfee of Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia; Steve Olson; Lyn Countryman of Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Judith Shaw and the students of her Advanced Placement biology class of Auburn Riverside High School, Washington. The controversy over the teaching of evolution in the United States has been going on for many decades and will not be easily resolved. The opponents of evolution are trying in many ways to undercut evolution’s place in the science curriculum. Those who are committed to the teaching of evolution have much work in front of them to continue to ensure the integrity of U.S. science education. I have known many scientists during my life who are deeply religious. They see no contradiction between their beliefs and the teaching of evolution and are firmly opposed to introducing religious ideas into science classrooms. The scientific and the religious domains of human life are both important, but they need to remain separate if each is to contribute to a better future. Bruce Alberts, President National Academy of Sciences