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The Ecology of Opuntia Fragilis (Nuttall) Haworth



Author:

Eric Ribbens
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Illinois University
E-Ribbens@wiu.edu

Abstract:

This interrupted case is based on the author's own personal research on the fragile prickly pear cactus in Stearns County, Minnesota. The data described is a product of the work of several undergraduate students at St. Johns University, which partially funded this research. By simulating the process of doing science through its progressive disclosure format, the case encourages students to think about plant population ecology from an actual research perspective. The case can be used in an introductory biology or botany course, and with slight modifications in an upper-level plant ecology course.

Objectives:
  • To explore aspects of basic plant population ecology.
  • To think about research design.
  • To simulate the process of doing science.
Keywords: Prickly pear cactus; Opuntia fragilis; plant populations; threatened plant species; endangered species; experimental design; Thomas Nuttall; Minnesota
Topical Area: Scientific method
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Botany / Plant Science   Ecology  
Date Posted: 11/03/05
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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Addendum from the Author:

We now know that a form of self-incompatibilty prevents sexual reproduction in the Midwest. Many plants have a mechanism to recognize pollen that is produced by itself. These self-pollen grains are then inhibited to prevent them from fertilizing any of the eggs. In effect, these plants have a mechanism to prevent having sex with themselves. In the Midwest, this mechanism inhibits ALL pollen from growing. Probably the genetic marker that is used has lost its genetic variability.


Eric Ribbens
Biology Department
Western Illinois University
Macomb IL
e-ribbens@wiu.edu
10/17/2013




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