Don Kaplan - his legacy: Influencing teaching and research
Mueller, Richard .
Ask the plant, investigating and teaching plant structure.
The discipline of comparative plant morphology can play an important role in both teaching and research at a comprehensive university. Natural variation can be used as the basis for studies that begin with the simple premise of "Ask the plant". Research questions from a variety of disciplines can be examined using its unique methods and perspectives. In addition to its common application in clarifying developmental relationships and processes, it is naturally, and has been historically, suited to examining the adaptations of plants to their environments. Two examples (one from grasses and another from native Utah shrubs) of studies relating plant form to patterns of growth and competition will be used to illustrate this interface between morphology and ecology. The potential role of comparative morphology in teaching will be described for three different levels in the curriculum: Biology I; Plant Structure (an upper division elective); and Ecological Plant Morphology and Anatomy (graduate level). Describing and explaining plant diversity and variation in the context of common structural adaptations, rather than from a strictly taxonomic perspective has been an effective "hook" to interest students in plants in the introductory course. In the more advanced courses the comparative perspective has provided a useful framework for understanding how plant diversity reflects adaptive value as well as common descent and has provided a broader perspective for student research projects in the basic and applied plant sciences.
1 - Utah State University, Department of Biology, College of Science, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah, 84322-0305, United States
Presentation Type: Symposium
Location: Ballroom 2 (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004
Time: 11:30 AM