PRINCIPLES OF TAXONOMY

Assignment Overview

From Sea Squirts to Otters…

For the Case Assignment in Module 3, you will compare the taxonomic classification of two organisms within the Phylum Chordata:  the sea squirt and the sea otter.  Use this site to accomplish your research:

University of California Museum of Paleontology, UC Berkeley

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibit/phylogeny.html

This link will bring you to the “Welcome to the Phylogeny Wing” page where you will begin your orientation to the website.

Follow the links in each of the “four ways to get started” listed on this page.  Use your back button to return to the “Welcome to the Phylogeny Wing” page each time.

Read the content on each page numbered # 1, 2, and 3.  Finally, complete your research on the taxonomic classification of sea squirts and sea otters using the link within # 4 entitled:  Web Lift to Taxa.

Within the Web Lift to Taxa, you will be able to find information about the classification of the sea squirt and the sea otter, two chordates.  First select the appropriate Kingdom that the Phylum Chordata belongs to (you can refer back to our home page – remember, WE are chordates).  You will access the rest of the necessary webpages from this list.

Case Assignment

For this Case Assignment, you are required to use the UCMP website and links accessed via this website ONLY.  Using this resource write a 3- to 4-page paper on the taxonomic classification of sea squirts and otters that includes the following for each organism:

Part I:  Sea Squirt

Once you find the “Chordata” link within the correct Kingdom page, notice the subphyla listed beneath it.  Take note of which subphyla the sea squirt belongs to (you will see it in parentheses next to the correct name).   Next click on the “Chordata” link and select “Systematics.”

  1. List the Kingdom and Phylum, for the sea squirt and then briefly describe the characteristics that determine the organism’s classification at each taxonomic level.
  2. Why is the sea squirt classified in the same phylum as a sea otter?
  3. Click on the “Life History & Ecology” tab to read more about Urochordates.  What is another name that is used to describe them?  Briefly describe the adult versus larval phase of its life cycle.

Part II:  Sea Otter

List the Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.  Summarize the descriptions that are provided in each web page for the taxonomic group and use the website address and the TITLE of the page to cite your source.  For example, if you summarize the Mammalia page, use this citation after your summary of the content (Hall of Mammals, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/help/taxaform.html).

Use a similar format to describe the taxonomic groups that this individual belongs to as was used on the Home page for this Module.  Be sure to take notes on each step of your classification as you complete the following instructions:

  1. Return to the Tree of Life page using the link at the bottom of the page.  Select the correct Kingdom for Phylum Chordata.  From this page, now think about what subphyla within Chordata would an otter belong to (HINT:  Does it have a vertebral column? Is it more like a koala bear or a primitive fish?).
  2. Select the correct subphylum from this list.
  3. Now select the correct Class.  On the page you will notice links that lead to fish, amphibia, reptiles, and mammals.  Think about which best represents the sea otter (HINT:  Does it have hair, scales, or a slimy skin?  Is it warm-blooded “homeothermic” or cold-blooded “poikilothermic?”).  If you can’t decide, try each link until you find characteristics that match those of the sea otter.
  4. Once you have selected the correct Class, a list of Orders will open next to it.  Consider the sea otter’s diet.  Does it eat vegetables such as seaweed, or meat such as oysters, mussels, and clams?  Is it more like whale, horse, elephant, bat, or cat? If you can’t decide, try some of the links until you narrow it down.
  5. Select the corresponding Order and make note of it.   Determine which Family, Genus and species describe the otter. Select “Systematics” at the bottom of the page.
  6. When you enter the “Systematics” page for the sea otter, select the link for “International Sea Otter Survival Fund” to learn more about the family and genus characteristics and classification.  Use the links “About Otters” and then “Otter Species” from this page to answer the following questions:

To what family do otter-like animals belong?

Using the Species List, what is the difference between the Sea Otter and the Marine otter?  List the genus and species for each.

What threats do the Sea Otter and Marine otter face as species?

Part III:  Explore the UCMP Site

Follow two additional links within the UCMP website.  This is your choice and your opportunity to explore this very cool resource provided by UC Berkeley.  The links within UCMP do not have to be related to either sea squirts or otters, but you must include the web address (and it must be within the ucmp.berkeley.edu domain!) and a brief description of what you learned on that page.

Assignment Expectations

This Case Assignment should be entirely completed with the UC Berkeley UCMP website: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibit/phylogeny.html.  Points will be deducted for results reported from general Google searches or homework pages.  When summarizing the information you read from the UCMP site, be sure to synthesize the information into your own words, and cite the reference using the title of the webpage and its web address.  Please use complete sentences and write your paper in essay format using Part I, II, and III as headings, and the topics within each as subheadings.

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