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Abstract Detail

Systematics Section / ASPT

Kirchoff, Bruce K. [1].

The Contribution of Training to Describing Reliable Character States.

Although characters are used in almost all aspect of biology, the process of describing characters and character states remains one of the least investigated parts of biological practice. It is generally accepted that a certain degree of expertise is needed accurately assess characters, but there has been no systematic study of how this expertise is gained. The types and duration of training that influence character description remain largely unknown. The effects of three training regimes on the reliability of character state creation were investigated using the ovaries of the Zingiberaceae and Costaceae (Zingiberales) as data sources. Cross sections from the mid-locular regions of 32 species were used in the training and assessment steps. Sixteen were used in training, and 16 in reliability assessment. The training conditions were: (1) no training, (2) “standard training” consisting of naming and describing the parts of the ovaries, (3) “familiarization training” in which the subjects viewed pictures of the ovaries and named them with nonsense names. The last type has been used in cognitive psychology to change a subject’s visual processing mode from that used by novices (analytic) to that used by visual experts (holistic). Subjects were volunteer undergraduate students taking an Introduction to Biology course at UNC Greensboro who were randomly assigned to one of the three training groups. The students were paid for their participation. Each subject was pre-assessed to determine their familiarity with flower and ovary structure. Character states were created by asking the subjects to sort the 16 test photographs into hierarchical groups. Reliability was assessed by comparing the similarity of these sorts within and between groups using 50% majority rule bootstrap trees, and the Quartet Symmetric Difference of Estabrook, McMorris & Meacham. The effects of training regime on performance in the sorting task will be discussed.

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1 - University of North Carolina Greensboro, Department of Biology, Po Box 26170, Greensboro, North Carolina, 27402-6170, USA

character congruence
character state

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: CP24
Location: Continental C/Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: CP24012
Abstract ID:1962

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