Investigating and Representing Genetic Data

Part of the Ecology Disrupted Curriculum Collection.

Map marking roads and Bighorn sheep populations in areas between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.


Download the files below to use offline, or to incorporate into your own lesson planning tools.

How Do You Investigate and Represent Data? lesson plan


How Do You Investigate and Represent Data? investigation booklet



(Estimated Time: 30 minutes)

Students will learn how DNA is collected in the field and then will use maps and rulers to analyze the genetic data collected by Dr. Clinton Epps.

1. Getting Bighorn Sheep DNA from Droppings (5 minutes)

This discussion explores why Dr. Epps collected droppings from all over the bighorn sheep range.

2. Introducing the DNA Datasets: Using Maps to Show Gene Flow (5 minutes)    

Use the maps to show how gene flow varies amongst populations.

3. Analyzing and Mapping the Genetic Datasets (10 minutes)

Use the slideshow to to predict gene flow between bighorn sheep mountaintop populations with and without highways.

4. Instructions for How to Analyze Genetic datasets (5 minutes)

Step by step instructions on how to analyze the data in slideshow format.

Optional Extension (20 minutes)

5. Complete the How do you investigate and represent data? section of the Investigation Booklet. (5 minutes)

Ask students to complete the How do you investigate and represent data? section of the Investigation Booklet, available in the Downloads section on this page.

6. Use the genetic data and rulers to represent the data on the maps. (To end of period, continue in next lesson.)

Student groups follow instructions for all six maps:

  1. Use rulers to measure the distance between mountaintops populations
  2. Use the measurements to predict the populations that breed the most frequently with one another based solely on geographic distance.
  3. Draw double-headed arrows onto maps to visualize documented levels of breeding between mountaintop populations
  4. Use the arrows to predict where the highways are located.
  5. Attempt to draw where the highways are located.


  • These exercises require students to be able to measure in centimeters.
  • Students have seen the highways in question during the slideshow, so make sure that during this exercise no one refers back to the slideshow.
  • Activity will be continued in the next lesson.