Natural Selection with bird beaks and beans

Posted on Jun 2, 2016 in Biology, natural selection

Target:  Determine the rate of survival of different beaks and food (beans) within specific environments.  Relate the lab environmental simulation to real organisms.

How:  Using simulated adaptations and food types, students will “eat” the food over time with the surviving beans reproducing.  Graphical analysis will determine the success of adaptations in specific environments.  Answer questions below to relate the lab environmental situation to real organisms.

Assignment:  natural selection bean lab     


  1. Rank beak adaptations from most likely to survive least in each environment?  Describe the data used to answer this question.
  2. Rank bean food from most likely to survive to least in each environment?  Describe the data used to answer this question.
  3. Which adaptation may be eliminated from the population of birds in each environment?
  4. When different populations exist independently long enough, they become so genetically different that they are different species.  They are different species because they will not produce fertile offspring, if they mated. How could there be a separation of species, if some birds became well adapted at eating a specific type of bean?  Which adaptation and bean would be a reasonable example of this process?
  5. How could the environment be changed in this activity?  How do you think  that would affect the bean type survival and bird beak adaptations?
  6. Did anyone “cheat”?  Describe the cheating. Given 3 examples of a “cheater behavior” in nature.
  7. Did anyone use cooperation as a behavior adaptation?  How was this accomplished? Give an example of a cooperative behavior adaptation in nature. You may use zebras, ants, penguins, etc.  And, use altruism in web browser search.