Natural variation is present in every species. To us, this is perhaps most clearly evident in humans! But even organisms like lady crabs (Ovalipes ocellatus) display individual differences. Much of this variation is due to the selective forces of a population’s local environment, including abiotic factors like temperature and light availability as well as biotic factors such as predators and competitors. Variation, both within and between species, is at the very heart of evolutionary biology, since variation is a necessary prerequisite for evolution by natural selection, and analysis of variation is a fundamental way to detect evolutionary change. Museum collections, with their large depth and breadth, can provide a unique window into this notion of variation.
In this two-day workshop, learn about available datasets and image banks, how to analyze the variation in those data/images, and how to relate the results to evolutionary principles. In addition, this workshop will demonstrate that the biological “backyard” is available as a classroom, whereby students and teachers can make measurements and observations on easily obtained specimens. One morning will be spent in the field at a nearby Long Island Sound shoreline location.
CLICK HERE for the classroom activity on measuring and analyzing variation in Asian shore crabs.
This teacher workshop is part of a larger National Science Foundation-funded project to make accessible the collections and data of the former Gray Museum collection of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA housed in the Yale Peabody Museum since 1994. A majority of the specimen lots have been cataloged only as bulk identified samples, and the individual subcomponents must be physically separated, re-cataloged and re-housed in new glassware. Once the Gray Museum collection records are databased and uploaded to the museum's website, they will represent one of the largest datasets of systematic and ecological information available for the New England region, broadly encompassing an area that includes Vineyard Sound north to the Gulf of Maine. A digitized photographic slide collection and new image gallery of New England invertebrates based on this material, developed as a Yale Peabody Museum website, will greatly enhance the value of this material to scientists, educators, and students.
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“Strength in Numbers” is funded by the National Science Foundation, through a grant from the Division of Biological Infrastructure (1203483) to Principal Investigators Leo W. Buss and Eric A. Lazo-Wasem.