After viewing various fossil corals and answering questions about them, students divide into teams of 2-3. They first read a short paper by Rodney Watkins, who used measurements of corallite diameter and density to argue for the evolution of niche partitioning in Silurian tabulate reef corals from Wisconsin and Illinois. (Watkins, 2000, Lethaia 33: 55-63.) Then they make the same measurements on a tabulate coral head from the Lower Silurian Brassfield Formation of southwestern Ohio (a rock unit they will have seen about a week before on a fieldtrip). Students will find that the coral falls nicely into Watkins' morphospace, even though this coral pre-dates the formation of large reefs in the area, and therefore presumably any selective pressure for niche partitioning. Students have to report their measurement data, briefly explain Watkins' interpretation, and then write a paragraph on the implications of their results, including alternative explanations for the pattern Watkins found.


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    Evolution,Higher Education,NSDL,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20100502200230753T,Undergraduate (Upper Division),Paleoecology,Development/Growth and Form/Morphometrics,Taxon-Specific Items,Vocational/Professional Development Education,Life Science,NSDL_SetSpec_380601



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