The Roundup: Evolution and Wikipedia

Ever wonder why some plants will flower, set seed, and die in a single year while others keep going, sometimes for centuries?

A student in Kasey Fowler-Finn’s Advanced Evolution class created a new article which looks at this big question: annual vs. perennial plant evolution.

We generally think of fermentation as something that happens when oxygen is absent, but certain yeasts convert sugars to alcohol even when oxygen is present, provided that sugars are abundant, a phenomenon known as the Crabtree effect. The evolution of this phenomenon is the subject of an article created by another student in this class, the evolution of aerobic fermentation.

Other articles created or greatly expanded by students in this class in April include Enchenopa binotata complex, a complicated group of closely-related treehopper species and Nothonotus which is either a genus or subgenus of darters found in the southeastern U.S. Wikipedia does a pretty good job both with big topics like evolution, and with small granular topics such as individual species or organs; mid-level topics are harder to write about, and are generally less well covered. Students in this course have helped fill in some of those gaps in Wikipedia’s coverage.

Students in the course also created a new 500-word article about phylogenetic inertia. That article describes the ways evolutionary paths can be limited by past adaptations. It’s part of what makes the shape of humans so inefficient for walking on two legs.

This course is a great example of quality student writing on diverse concepts related to evolution on Wikipedia. Above and beyond our free online student trainings, instructor orientation, and student editing guides, instructors who are interested in participating in a similar initiative in their own course may be excited to know about a resource from Wiki Education made just for them. Wiki Education offers three printed guidebooks for students exploring evolution, ecology, or species on Wikipedia: “Editing Wikipedia articles on genes and proteins,” “Editing Wikipedia articles on Species,” and “Editing Wikipedia articles on Ecology.”

To get a conversation started, I encourage you to reach out to us by e-mail:

Photo:Charles Darwin 01” by J. Cameron – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


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