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Abstract Detail

Ecological diversification and niche evolution in the temperate zone’s largest genus: Carex

Global Carex Group, The [1], Hahn, Marlene [1], Budaitis, Breane [1], Grant, Jeff [1], Wetta, Donna [1], Murphy, Patrick [1], Cotton, Alexa [1], Pham, Kasey [1], Hipp, Andrew L. [1].

Training the next generation of sedge taxonomists: school kids tackle sedge morphological and ecological diversification.

The Carex morphology project was started with the goals that students would 1) increase their understanding of biodiversity, 2) generate novel data that could be used to study the evolution of morphological diversity in Carex, and 3) be aware they are doing “real” science and not just a lab exercise. Protocols and classroom activities were developed in collaboration with five teachers who worked in our lab as research interns. During their internship, the teachers gained experience doing the type of research we do in our lab as well as the research their students would be doing in the classroom, and they developed and modified classroom protocols for their students. Over the course of three years, 96 middle school students from The Avery Coonley School, 234 AP biology students from Downers Grove North and ca. 30 AP environmental science students from Waubonsie Valley High School made morphological measurements on a total of 322 unique specimens and replicated observations on 99 specimens, representing a total of 79 species. Student data were validated by looking at the variance between student data and “expert data,” data generated in our lab by trained summer interns working under our close supervision. After analysis, 70% of student data, pooled over the first two years of the project, was maintained and useful for downstream analyses; considering only the second year of data collection, 81% of the data was maintained and useful. Based upon pre- and post-survey data, 11% of students said they had done “real” science before the project; at the end of this project, 64% students were aware that they had been doing “real” science. From the beginning to the end of the project, students’ understanding of the different axes of biodiversity—genetic, ecological, taxonomic—increased slightly, but not significantly. At the same time, after the experience, students’ tended to put less taxonomic and ecological limits on their definitions of biodiversity, suggesting that even a very specific exercise such as a study of Carex morphological diversity can influence students’ broader understanding of biodiversity.

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1 - The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL, 60532, USA

K-12 science education
science outreach
authentic research.

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY15
Location: Salon 11/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: SY15008
Abstract ID:312
Candidate for Awards:None

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