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Achievement objective LW 8-2

Students will:

  • explore the evolutionary processes that have resulted in the diversity of life on Earth and appreciate the place and impact of humans within these processes.


  • Explains evolutionary changes in terms of natural selection and genetic drift.
  • Recognises and identifies a range of reproductive isolating mechanisms.
  • Contrasts modes of speciation in terms of when and how reproductive isolation is achieved.
  • Uses evidence such as fossils, molecular biology, or biogeography to explain patterns of speciation.
  • Recognises the particular significance of genetic drift in small populations.
  • Describes trends in human biological and cultural evolution.
  • Compares structural features (skull, hands and skeleton) of modern apes and humans to explore their divergence.
  • Relates evolutionary trends in hominins to the adaptive advantage provided.
  • Critically examines current scientific evidence for human evolution and dispersal.

Possible context elaborations

  • A local conservation reserve or interpretive centre such as Zealandia.
  • Did divarication evolve in New Zealand shrubs in response to moa browsing?
  • Is the black robin species doomed due to the bottleneck effect?
  • Was New Zealand completely inundated during the Oligocene? What’s the evidence?
  • What’s the best conservation strategy to save the kakapo?
  • Why do zoos maintain studbooks?
  • How did New Zealand breeders develop the Perrindale sheep?
  • Translocation of endangered species as a conservation strategy: evaluate, using historical data of a New Zealand animal (for example, saddleback).
  • Do we have right to produce animals such as the shoat and the liger?
  • When did our ancestors really become bipedal?
  • Live for a week with your thumb taped to your palm. What’s the significance of the opposable thumb?
  • How did the discovery of floresiensis contribute to current theories about human dispersal patterns?
  • Peopling of the Pacific (using biogeographical evidence).
  • What is Darwinian medicine?
  • Is race an obsolete concept?
  • What is the importance of Australian birds self-introduced into New Zealand?
  • Are biosecurity checks necessary at New Zealand borders?
  • Are domestic cats/dogs actually different from their wild relatives?
  • What happens to hybrids in conservation programmes?

Assessment for qualifications

At the time of publication, achievement standards were in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the  NZQA website.

The NZQA subject-specific resources pages are very helpful. From there, you can find all the achievement standards and links to assessment resources, both internal and external.

Learn more:

Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 for use in 2012; level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

  • 91601 Biology 3.1 Carry out a practical investigation in a biological context, with guidance; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91602 Biology 3.2 Integrate biological knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue; Internal, 3 credits
  • 91603 Biology 3.3 Demonstrate understanding of the responses of plants and animals to their external environment; External, 5 credits
  • 91604 Biology 3.4 Demonstrate understanding of how an animal maintains a stable internal environment; Internal, 3 credits
  • 91605 Biology 3.5 Demonstrate understanding of evolutionary processes leading to speciation; External, 4 credits
  • 91606 Biology 3.6 Demonstrate understanding of trends in human evolution; External, 4 credits
  • 91607 Biology 3.7 Demonstrate understanding of human manipulations of genetic transfer and its biological implications; Internal, 3 credits

Last updated September 15, 2020