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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:West Virginia University Research Corporation
  • James Lamsdell
  • (304) 293-3998
Award Date:06/30/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 532,660
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 284,441
  • FY 2020=$284,441
Start Date:07/01/2020
End Date:06/30/2025
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER: Exploring environmental drivers of morphological change through phylogenetic paleoecology
Federal Award ID Number:1943082
DUNS ID:191510239
Program:Sedimentary Geo & Paleobiology
Program Officer:
  • Dena Smith
  • (703) 292-7431

Awardee Location

Street:P.O. Box 6845
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:West Virginia University
Street:98 Beechurst Avenue
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

Understanding what drives the evolution of new animal forms and the occupation of previously unused environments is critical for understanding the history of life on Earth. New forms arise through a process called heterochrony, where changes in the timing or speed of a species’ growth result in adults with either more juvenile-like or exaggerated adult-like characteristics. What is unclear is whether moving into new environments causes changes in development, or whether changes in development allow animals to move into new environments. This research explores the relationship between changes in animal traits and shifts in ecology to determine what drives the evolution of new species. The project will fund graduate and undergraduate research, and the results will be integrated into college classes. The research also will be used to engage middle school students in the study of geological processes and how they have changed Earth’s surface at varying temporal and spatial scales. Database, museum, and literature data will be used in concert with phylogenetic frameworks to generate a comprehensive view of patterns in ecological occupation, heterochronic trends, and evolutionary rates across a diverse set of aquatic arthropods. This will produce a synthesis of the rate and mode of morphological change with shifts in ecological occupation to determine the driving forces behind the development of novel phenotypes and factors mediating ecological expansion. The chief merit of the project is the integration of a hierarchical framework using phylogenetic relationships with ecological and phenotypic data from the fossil record. The development of a quantitative metric to evaluate heterochrony will permit direct comparison of heterochronic trends between clades for the first time. The project will support K-12 education by enriching undergraduate pre-service science teachers' preparation with high-quality lessons prepared by the Principal Investigator and a Master Teacher who will use this research to draw interest and provide real-world examples and data. The completed lessons will be available on a national K-12 educator clearinghouse. This award is co-funded with the Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences program (Division of Environmental Biology). This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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