Students use the procedure outlined by Casey Hermoyian and colleagues (2002) to test whether competition played a role in structuring a strophomenid brachiopod community in the Middle Devonian Onondaga limestone of western New York. It is not necessary to use these particular brachiopods; brachs from other localities, ages, and species could work, too, if chosen well. Students sort through a collection of brachiopods, separating them into groups of species defined by mutual agreement. They then use measurements of the commissure length to test two predictions made by Robert MacArthur's (1972) theory of how Hutchinson's (1959) niche partitioning would be evidenced: nonoverlapping resource use among former competitors but with very little distance between them. Students graph results, calculate ratio sums of their measurements and z statistics to test whether their results are significant. Finally, students prepare a conference-type abstract based on their results. The activity gives students practice in observing differences among groups, measurement, graphing, statistical calculation, synthesizing results, and clear presentation of their synthesis. Students also practice group and individual work in this exercise.


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    Higher Education,NSDL,Undergraduate (Upper Division),Paleoecology,Vocational/Professional Development Education,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20100502200231648T,NSDL_SetSpec_380601



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