Avida-ED is adapted from Avida, a software platform created by a group of computer scientists and software engineers interested in the experimental study of digital organisms in order to better understand how biological evolution works.

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Description

Introduction - Avida-ED and Digital Evolution

Avida-ED is adapted from Avida, a software platform created by a group of computer scientists and software engineers interested in the experimental study of digital organisms in order to better understand how biological evolution works. Both programs provide an instance of evolution in a model environment. The evolution itself is real; the digital organisms are subject to the same processes as biological organisms, such as mutation, replication, and selection. Scientists can study how digital organisms evolve, and examine questions related to the evolution of complex features, sex, intelligence, cooperation, and foraging behavior. Avida has even been used to confirm the outcomes of ongoing biological experiments. This is possible because the process of evolution is “substrate neutral”, meaning that when a system possesses three key characteristics – variation, inheritance, and selection – evolution will inevitably result.

Using this powerful tool, you will be able to design and perform your own experiments to test hypotheses about evolution in much the same way that researchers use Avida.

Driving Questions

• What is Avida-ED (how does it work)?  It is a software platform to study the evolutionary biology.

• What do biologists mean when they say the word “evolution”? Evolution is like mutation, replication, and selection.

• Can we observe evolution? How?  Yes, it can examine through the evolution of complex features like sex, intelligence, cooperation, and foraging behavior.

• Can we study evolution by doing experiments? What kinds?  Yes, but going through the system possesses of three key characteristics, variation, inheritance, and selection.

• How is Avida a useful tool for biologists? What are the strengths and limitations of such an approach?  It allows biologists to design and perform their own experiments to test hypotheses about evolution.

Tasks

1. Begin by reading the article by Carl Zimmer “Testing Darwin” that appeared in Discover

Magazine in 2005. The article can be found immediately following this Introduction or will be made available by your instructor.

2. Start Avida-ED. The program now runs in a web browser. Navigate to https://avida- ed.beacon-center.org/app/AvidaED.html. Please note that the program may take a minute or two to load, be patient. 3. Watch the Avida-ED video tutorial found in the support section of the Avida-ED website

or on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJwtg0so4BA&feature=youtu.be Use it to help you explore the application’s controls. 

Instruction Files

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