Stable Isotope Trophic Ecology

Project Summary

The aim of this data expedition was to give students an introduction to stable isotopes and how the data can be used to understand trophic dynamics. 

Themes and Categories
Year
2017

Within a 3-hour lab students were introduced to methane seeps and the difference between photosynthetic and chemosynthetic carbon, before working through an analysis of data from deep-sea red crabs. Students were then introduced to data on Atlantic and Mediterranean fin whale populations and how diet is shown to vary between populations using stable isotopes. By exploring stable isotope data in R, students practiced coding skills and learned how to create publication-quality figures as preparation for their independent class projects.

Graduate Students:  William Cioffi (william.cioffi@duke.edu) and Phillip Turner (phillip.turner@duke.edu)

Faculty: Dr. Brian R. Silliman

Course: ENV 273 Marine Ecology (Cross Listing: BIOLOGY 273, EOS 374)

Project Summary (PDF)

Project Files (21.6 MB, ZIP)

 

Related Projects

This data expeditions module used three full course sessions to introduce undergraduate hydrology students with minimal programming background to:

  • Public water data (water quantity and chemistry)

  • Spatial analysis of water data

  • 2 core, spatial datasets produced by the USGS that enable spatial analysis

  • The programming language R

  • R based tools for water data

  • Spatial analysis and maps in R

Exposure to local pathogens is a significant selective pressure on the human genome: the strongest selective forces identified in modern human populations are for mutations that confer increased resistance to malaria infection. Understanding how human genetic variation impacts susceptibility to pathogens can reveal important aspects of disease biology and reveal novel treatment targets. By using genome-wide association of infection-related cellular traits, we can connect human genetic variation to disease susceptibility in a controlled laboratory environment. Identification of the variants, genes, and cellular pathways involved in infectious disease pathogenesis can inform host-directed therapeutics, clinically effective risk stratification, and epidemiological prediction. This data expedition explores the effect of host genetic variation on chemokine response to Chlamydia infection.

How does human habitation relate to patterns in the natural environment? How do species respond to the presence of, and changes in, habitation? In this Data Expedition, students make use of public datasets from the Census and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to examine relationships between individual species and human settlements. Students develop introductory skills in spatial data manipulation and visualization in R, exposure to powerful datasets and tools, and critical thinking skills in assessing dataset quality and bias.