|--Real Time Data
BIRDD is a rich collection of primary scientific data and supporting
materials about the Galápagos islands and Darwin’s finches. The islands
and their finches had a major impact on Charles Darwin, and they are still
providing evolutionary insights over 150 years later. Pictures of finch
beaks and possible phylogenetic relationships between species are common
icons of evolution in textbooks.
Despite their importance, studying the finches can be difficult
for nonspecialists. The original literature can be bewildering
and original data have not been readily available.
Evolutionary concepts and models are often presented to students
without the rich data and arguments on which they are based. Unless
students actually confront such data, they often do not have a
chance to use evolutionary reasoning, and are unable to appreciate
how such reasoning contributes to understanding the world. Without
a ready source of evolution-related data, instructors are hard-pressed
to provide students with experiences that help them understand
the basis for claims about evolution.
BIRDD provides information ranging from island names, maps, and
weather, to summaries of taxonomy, song recordings, DNA sequences,
and measurements of over 650 specimens. These resources are organized
in a database that is easy to navigate, view, and print. Most
importantly, users can export data to spreadsheets, statistics
packages, image-analysis, DNA-analysis, systematics, GIS, and
BIRDD may be used:
- As a collection of data. Students may pursue realistic problem-solving
in evolution and other fields. Students can explore morphology and allometry,
intra- and interspecific variation, island biogeography, DNA sequence
analysis phenetic and cladistic analyses, character displacement, and
competitive exclusion. Data on number of plant species, island areas,
elevations, vegetation zones, etc., can be used to study environmental
factors determining species distributions.
- As a curricular resource. Teachers may develop custom exercises by
exporting selected data. For example, they might export data to their
spreadsheet or statistics package and delete species names. Their students
can experience “raw data” like those that confronted John Gould, the
original describer of the group. The wide variety of data can serve
faculty in diverse courses at many levels. In particular, instructors
of evolution courses can use the material for evolution labs, often
absent from evolution courses. More generally, departments can bring
home to students the variety of data and methods used in evolutionary
biology if they have students revisit BIRDD data in a number of courses.
- As a reference library. BIRDD provides maps, lists of species and
island names, summaries of weather, topography, taxonomic diversity,
and more. From experience, we know how confusing the multiple names
of islands and species can be. Jotting notes on a printed copy of the
blank map can help students make sense of data.
Macintosh or Power Macintosh
BIRDD is a Filemaker Pro Standalone document. You do not need the Filemaker
Pro application to run it.
- System 7 or later; System 7.1 or better recommended.
- 3 MB available RAM; 4 MB recommended.
- At least 67 MB of hard disk space needed (unless run from CD ROM).
- Color monitor with 800 x 600 resolution or better (640 x 480 possible
but not recommended).