Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: EcoColumn

The Tree of Life

In the video for Session 6 (Evolution and the Tree of Life), a tree of life was introduced as a model for illustrating how scientists believe life on Earth evolved. Trees of life portray the evolution of modern species from common ancestors starting with the hypothetical “first species.” In “The Tree of Life,” you’ll have an opportunity to see into which broad groups within a tree of life the species in your EcoColumn fit. You’ll find it helpful to do this activity at the end of your study period using baseline data recorded in “Taking Inventory.”

Materials Needed


  1. Make a list of the organisms inhabiting your EcoColumn. If you use the information in your “Taking Inventory” Data Sheet to help, be sure to add any “newcomers” in your EcoColumn to the list.
  2. Use your “Tree of Life” Data Sheet to place the organisms on your list in a tree of life.

Activity Questions

  1. How many domains are represented in your EcoColumn? How many kingdoms?
  2. How many divisions are represented in the plant kingdom? How many classes?
  3. How many phyla are represented in the animal kingdom? How many classes?
  4. Pick three branches (lineages) of the tree. Describe what the tree hypothesizes about the evolutionary relationships between modern species on these branches.
  5. Pick one “node” (branch point) on the tree that branches into two groups. Describe a hypothetical common ancestor that this node might represent.
  6. Use what you know about natural selection to hypothesize how these two branches diverged from a common ancestor.
  7. How would you describe your EcoColumn in terms of representing diversity within different lineages?


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