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Hummingbirds and Flowers: A Study of Co-Adaptive Relationships
This Clemson University lesson plan helps middle school students understand the co-adaptation process—how the characteristics of two species have evolved to their mutual advantage. Students first learn how hummingbirds have adapted over time to acquire nectar from flowering plants, and how flowering plants have adapted over time to attract pollinators. They then study a specific example of co-adaptation: how the ruby-throated hummingbird adapted to acquire nectar from the trumpet creeper blossom, and how that flowering plant adapted to that particular bird. In addition, the lesson explains what types of flowers can be planted in a garden to attract hummingbirds. Teacher resources contain background information on plant pollination and reproduction and on the natural history, morphology, and behavior of hummingbirds. Wing sound, mating call sound bites, and a PowerPoint presentation that includes many slides of flowers are available for teacher use. The unit also contains tips for teachers who want to find and study hummingbirds outside the classroom.
Program Director: Barbara Jean Speziale, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1998, 2002, 2006
Summary: Clemson University is a public research university in Clemson, South Carolina. Its HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- Interactive research communities for undergraduates from Clemson and three historically black colleges and universities;
- Extensive professional development opportunities, including graduate-level courses in bioengineering, bioinformatics and other topics, and summer and short-term courses on natural history, for middle and high school teachers;
- Two CD series that aid students and teachers in learning about various components of South Carolina ecosystems: the SC LIFE Image CD Series, consisting of hundreds of images of invertebrates and vertebrates, and the SC LIFE Interactive CD series, which explores the diversity of flora and fauna in the five physiographic regions of the state; and
- Programs, including laboratory field trips, for middle and high school students to improve their knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and natural history using multidisciplinary curriculum materials that are also available online.