TEEMING WITH LIFE – Teachers Notes

Teacher's Notes
Time needed to complete lab:
A 40 minute class period
Target Grade Level:
Middle School
Students will learn how to identify species of bandicoots by using only their sense of
Major Concepts:
Students should understand what a species is so that they can classify each bandicoot pair
into species groups.
There are 15 species pairs, as indicated by the key on the following page. The differences in
"rattle" are sometimes slight. If students patiently roll the canisters top to bottom several times,
and go back to listen to the more difficult ones, they should get most or all pairs correctly. In
Experiment I, a group that starts with 6 random canisters will usually find that 5 or 6 species,
rarely 4, are present.
In experiment II the sex of the bandicoot, marked on the bottom of the canister, will help in
discriminating species. Each species is represented by a male and female. If a student pairs two
canisters on the basis of rattle, and both contain a bandicoot of the same sex, he or she must be
Answers to questions:
1. What is the total number of dwarf bandicoot species on the island?
2. Is the sound animals make a good way of identifying them to species, or do you think
identifying them by eye would be easier and more reliable in most cases? Explain your answer.
Students will give a variety of answers here. They won't have the background to dig deeply.
Most will say that it is easier to identify species visually. That is usually true - primates like
ourselves can discriminate very fine visual detail. In particular, our brains are pre-wired to note
very small differences in faces. Some people have a fine ear as well, but most animal sounds
have much less acoustical complexity than do their visual images. As in everything in biology,
Teeming with Life
Rev. 7/01/2008
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Juniata College
there are exceptions. Some species pairs, so called "sibling species, closely resemble each other
visually, but can be separated by differences in alarm, mating, and other calls.
Key to Bandicoots
1. Aluminum caps
2. Tiles
3. Pea
4. Matches
5. Sprinkles
6. Mixed beans
7. Cardboard squares
8. Aluminum caps
9. Splice caps
10. Rubber gasket
11. Large rock
12. Kidney beans
13 Two rocks
14. Lima bean
15. Pennies
16. Pea
17. Cardboard squares
18. Large rock
19. Pennies
20. Splice caps
21. Matches
22. Two rocks
23. Pair dice
24. Tiles
25. Lima bean
26. Mixed beans
27. Sprinkles
28. Kidney beans
29. Pair dice
30. Rubber gasket
1, 8 Aluminum caps
2, 24 Tiles
3, 16 Pea
4, 21 Matches
5, 27 Sprinkles
6, 26 Mixed beans
7, 17 Cardboard squares
9, 20 Splice caps
10, 30 Rubber gasket
11, 18 Large rock
12, 28 Kidney beans
13, 22 Two rocks
14, 25 Lima bean
15, 19 Pennies
23, 29 Pair dice
Teeming with Life
Rev. 7/01/2008
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