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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

SOLTIS, PAMELA S. [1], Soltis, Douglas E. [2].

Digital resources for biology teaching using the Floridian flora: from field to niche modeling to phylogeny and beyond.

Undergraduate biology education in the U.S. is at a critical juncture, especially as we acknowledge the need to train a new generation of scientists to meet looming environmental crises. Digitized natural history collections have become tremendous assets for research in environmental and health sciences, but to date these data remain largely untapped by educators. Natural history collections have the potential to help transform undergraduate science education from passive learning to active exploration of the natural world. Collections-based data regarding the flora of Florida provide numerous opportunities to design novel teaching activities. Beginning in the field (including the surrounding campus, local parks, or field stations), students can collect examples of one to a few plant species. Identifications of these taxa can then be confirmed using herbarium specimens or online images of these specimens. Once species identities have been established, students By comparing the geographic distributions of these species, students can determine geographic distributions (e.g., via Lifemapper) and draw inferences regarding the biogeographic histories of the focal taxa. Additionally, students can use maps of current species distributions in Florida in conjunction with climate data to identify the apparent physical requirements of these species. By comparing this information with data regarding projected future climatic conditions, students can generate basic predictions as to how the distributions of these species may change over time. Students can also search GenBank for DNA sequences associated with their species. With this information, student-collected specimens can be placed in the appropriate phylogenetic context using tools provided by the Open Tree of Life project thereby connecting these specimens to their closest relatives.  This is an example of how incorporating natural history specimens and their associated data into undergraduate curricula, educators can promote participatory learning and foster understanding of essential interactions between organisms and their environments.

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1 - University Of Florida, Florida Museum Of Natural History, PO BOX 117800, Gainesville, FL, 32611-7800, USA, 352/273-1964
2 - University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History, PO Box 117800, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA

specimen digitization
next generation teaching.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 19
Location: Cottonwoods North/Boise Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 11:30 AM
Number: 19014
Abstract ID:828
Candidate for Awards:None

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