Arthropod Diversity and Evolution

Arthropod Projects

Below is a smorgasbord of themes which you can use as a possible starting point for your oral presentations and webpages. Arthropod Projects will culminate in student-prepared, scientifically accurate, tabloid newspaper-style webpages. Visit the Resource Page for links to possible resources.

 
Reproduction
aphids (parthenogensis)
barnacles (longest penes in the animal world)
pheromones and other attractants
food offerings (mating, male then offers self as food reward to female)
competition (combat structures), also sperm competition
firefly sexual courtships displays (fireflies are actually beetles and not flies; also ostracods, marine equivalent to fireflies)
 
Parasitism
rhizocephalan barnacles
parasitic wasps
bot flies
isopod fish tongue parasite
 
Mutualism
cleaner shrimp
 
Herbivory
insect herbivory driving plant evolution
impact on human food production
 
Life History
locust periodicity
diapause
diversity of life (developmental) stages
biological clocks, Drosophila (=fruit-fly, arthropod model organism), what have we learned about them, what are the possible implications for how biological clocks might work in other organisms
 
Defense
ants and Acacia
leafcutter ants and fungal farming
cryptic coloration (eye spots on moth wings, translucent butterfly wings)
distastefulness
cryptic morphology (stick insects)
warning mimicry
 
Vision
compound eyes
diversity of eyes (spider vision, naupliar eyes, blind species)
 
Diversity of arthropods
spectacular diversity of insects in tropical forests
incredible beetle diversity ("an inordinate fondness for beetles")
crustacean diversity in deepsea
trilobite diversity -- incredibly successful group now extinct
 
Molting
how are millipedes related to crustaceans, spiders, and insects
why do we think that
 
Astonishing failure of insects to invade water
not enough time?
evolutionary one-way street?
lack of massive freshwater and terrestrial crustacean invasions
 
Arthropod products
as food
caterpillar silk
spider silk
 
Locomotion
flight = lift-based propulsion
"swimming" in dragonflies vs. flight in thrips
importance of Reynold's number, body size, scale
 
Human and pet health
arthropod vectors for diseases, malaria, thyphoid fever
nature's pharmacological store - drugs from arthropods
ectoparasites: mites, fleas, ticks, lice, and others
 
Fossils
extinct classes (trilobites, eurypterans)
"living fossils"
 
Phylogenetics
arthropods and related groups: tardigrades (water bears), small, cute, and cuddly; onychophorans (velvet worms); sea spiders (pycnogonids)
hot topics in arthropod evolution
are insects flying crustaceans?

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