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Program Set for AIBS Evolution Symposium and Session on Creationism/Intelligent Design

October 1, 2005


AIBS is convening an all-day symposium on the theme of "Evolution and the Environment" at the 2005 annual meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) on 7 October in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The cosponsors of the symposium are the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). Speakers will provide updates on evolution research and education, with a focus on the causal connections between evolution and environmental health and change. The presentations will be followed by an afternoon BSCS workshop.

The soon-to-be-released BSCS/AIBS video EvolutionWhy Bother? will debut at the workshop. (For information on ordering the video—plus the new BSCS/AIBS book Evolutionary Science and Society: Educating a New Generation, based on the symposium held by AIBS and BSCS at the 2004 NABT annual convention—contact BSCS at .)

After the 2005 symposium, AIBS and BSCS will hold a special discussion session dealing with creationism and intelligent design, titled "Defending the Teaching of Evolution—National and Local Resources for Educators." Registration for the NABT annual meeting includes the AIBS-sponsored symposium and special discussion session. To register, visit the NABT Web site at

Program and Schedule

Friday, 7 October 2005

9:00 Introduction to the Symposium
Gordon E. Uno, Department of Botany and Microbiology, University of Oklahoma, Norman; chair, AIBS Education Committee

9:15-10:00 The Diversification of Flowering Plants: Key Innovations and Radiations
Pamela Soltis, curator, Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolutionary Genetics, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville

The flowering plants (angiosperms) diversified rapidly soon after their appearance in the fossil record nearly 130 million years ago, and the periodic radiations they have undergone since then characterize angiosperm phylogeny. Soltis will explore the role that floral and other changes played in spurring radiations and diversification to yield the 300,000+ species of flowering plants on Earth today.

10:00-10:45 The Role of Climatic Change in the Evolution of Mammals
Anthony D. Barnosky, Department of Integrative Biology and Museums of Paleontology and Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley

The paleontological record of mammals offers many examples of evolutionary change in a diversity of animals that range from large-bodied species such as elephants and horses to tiny rodents and insectivores. Some researchers have presented evidence that certain climatic changes stimulate evolution, whereas others argue cogently that interactions between species are more important than climate change in accelerating natural selection. Barnosky will address the question, Do evolutionary effects of climatic change manifest at different levels of the biological hierarchy, depending on the rate and magnitude of the climatic change?

11:00-11:45 Evolution and Diversification in the Tropical Crop, Cassava
Barbara Schaal and Kenneth Olsen, Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Cassava is one of the most important crops in the world today. Evolutionary studies show that the crop was domesticated in the southwestern part of the Amazon basin. Schaal and Olsen will describe the varieties of cassava used by the indigenous people of this region and the important traits that have potential for enhancing the nutrition of people in the developing world.

11:45-12:30 Amphibian Population Declines and Some Misconceptions about Natural Selection
Andrew R. Blaustein, Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Seemingly adaptive behaviors that have persisted in amphibians for millions of years appear to be putting amphibians in harm's way under today's environmental conditions. Blaustein will discuss several factors contributing to amphibian population declines.

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:15 Ecological Change Drives Evolutionary Diversification: A Case Study with Caribbean Lizards
Jonathan B. Losos, Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Evolutionary trees built using DNA data indicate that Anolis lizards have evolved separately on different Caribbean islands, yet the end result is the same set of habitat specialists on each island. Manipulative experiments on natural populations over a microevolutionary time scale support the hypothesis that interspecific interactions have driven this evolutionary divergence.

2:15-3:00 When Humans Create Rapid Evolution by Changing the Environment
Stephen Palumbi, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California

Without evolutionary science, we could not understand how HIV becomes so deadly, how to win the arms race with bacterial diseases, or how to prevent the next global flu epidemic. The value of science is that it is explanatory and predictive, leading to technology to enhance society.

3:00-5:00 Evolution Teaching Resources
Jerry L. Phillips, science educator and project director, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Colorado Springs, Colorado

This two-hour workshop organized by BSCS follows the symposium "Evolution and the Environment" and is designed to provide participants with resources and strategies to teach evolution in the classroom. Included in the teaching resources will be the newly released film Evolution—Why Bother?

5:00-6:00 Special Session: Defending the Teaching of Evolution—Sponsored by AIBS and BSCS
Robert E. Gropp, AIBS director of public policy, Washington, DC

With active movements to introduce intelligent design or other forms of creationism into the science curricula in nearly 20 states, and recent statements by the president and Senate majority leader supporting such efforts, the well-funded political movement to redefine science is quite alive. In this environment, evolution and the nature of science are in jeopardy of being redefined to serve political agendas. Indeed, these attacks on science go beyond evolution. Educators, scientists, and others must begin to effectively and energetically defend the teaching of science. This session, convened by AIBS, will review the current state of affairs regarding threats to evolution education, and present information and policy resources available to educators. It is also an opportunity for concerned educators to share information and develop contacts.

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