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  • Writer's pictureJolene Pappas

Evolution Simulation

Updated: May 3, 2020

In the Evolution: 10,000 simulation students can track a population of fictional organisms over a 10,000 year time period, with data produced every 1,000 years. Mutations can occur in the population, and the environment may change over the time period. This simulation does not cover speciation; the population is assumed to remain interbreeding throughout the time period.

The user can select the general makeup of phenotypes in the starting population. The user also selects the starting environment by choosing the general temperature (warm/cool) and precipitation (wet/dry) as well as the substrate (rock/soil). The simulation has a number of random components built-in that can affect survival rates and environmental changes. Due to this, while general patterns will emerge, each run of the simulation is likely to be different.

Three worksheets are available on the Resources page. Level 1 is a simpler version that may be appropriate for middle school or some 9-10th grade. Level 2 is designed for an introductory high school biology course. In addition, there is an exploratory option that asks students to select questions to study using the simulation. This option requires students to make additional runs of the simulation and make choices about recording their own data. These are also available in a Google doc format that is friendly to completing completely online. Of course, this is an open resource, and teachers are welcome to make adjustments to these resources or make their own.

In addition to evolution, there is a small amount of ecological succession included in the simulation. If the user selects rock as the starting substrate or if there is volcanic activity during the simulation, the environment will change to soil over time. There are also environmental variations based on the amount of precipitation and average temperature. These aspects aren't very detailed but can be used as a conversation started as to how climate affects the types of ecosystems found in an area.

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