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Virtual Lab
Stickleback Evolution Virtual Lab

The Stickleback Evolution Virtual Lab will introduce you to the science and techniques used to analyze the forms and structures of organisms—in particular, the pelvic structures of the threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus). The lab includes three experiments in which you will collect and analyze data using photographs of living fish specimens and fossils.

Download the accompanying worksheets to support The Virtual Stickleback Evolution Lab in the classroom. They are meant to provide students with structure and guidance as they perform the tutorials, experiments, and quizzes in the lab. There are two versions: an advanced worksheet and a basic worksheet. The only difference between them is that the basic worksheet does not contain the chi-square analyses portions of the lab. The teacher materials provide background information and tips for using the virtual lab.

Note: The lab was updated in September 2013!  Improvements include: new videos, an interactive glossary, greatly expanded teacher resources and tips, and the ability to track and store the progress of multiple students working on a single computer. The accompanying worksheets (see Downloads) have also been revised.

This lab is in HTML5—compatible with mobile devices!

The following browsers are supported and recommended for this virtual lab. Please be sure that JavaScript and cookies are enabled and your pop-up blocker is disabled.

  • Google Chrome version 9 or greater.
  • Mozilla Firefox version 9 or greater.
  • Apple Safari version 5 or greater.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer version 8 or greater. 


  •  2013 Communicator Awards; Silver Award of Distinction

Supporting Materials (5)

Short Film
After the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago, populations of marine stickleback fish became stranded in freshwater lakes dotted throughout the Northern Hemisphere in places like Alaska and British Columbia. These fish have adapted to a freshwater environment drastically different than the ocean.
Classroom Resource
A hands-on activity in which students analyze the results of genetic crosses between stickleback fish with different traits.
Classroom Resource
A hands-on activity in which students interpret molecular diagrams and build physical models of eukaryotic gene regulation.
Classroom Resource
A worksheet that guides students through The Stickleback Evolution Virtual Lab. The virtual lab lets students learn firsthand the methods for analyzing body structure in stickleback collected from lakes and fossils recovered from a quarry. Students measure, record, and graph their results to discover evolutionary patterns.
Film Guides
These classroom-ready resources complement the short film Evolving Switches, Evolving Bodies, which tells the story of the dramatic transformation of stickleback fish as they adapted to living in freshwater habitats drastically different from the ocean.

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Identify bacteria, examine heart patients, probe the nervous system, assay antibodies, study circadian rhythms, and analyze evolution in action.

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