University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

EEB 4260 Ordinal Summary Assignment

EEB 4260
Avian Ordinal Summary Assignment

To gather, organize, and summarize in a single document of no more than 2 pages all the available information about a single Order of birds. The final document should be sufficiently clear, complete and well-­‐organized that it demonstrates your ability to 1) locate and gather relevant information from reliable sources; 2) organize what you know; 3) make connections among different kinds of information (evaluate evidence about a hypothesis, in this case a hypothesis about relationships); and 4) communicate it clearly, accurately, and succinctly.

Each student will choose an Order from the orders named on the Tree of Life Project pages for Palaeognathae (, Galloanserae ( or Neoaves ( to summarize. There will be no duplication; only one student per Order. These documents produced by the class as a whole will be the resource used to answer questions on the final exam; we will collect, and provide copies at the final, for everyone, of all the summaries. At the final, we will pick a single Order at random as the basis to answer the questions on the final. Since there are fewer students than there are Orders, the final will exclude Orders not summarized. You MAY NOT ANSWER THE FINAL EXAM QUESTIONS DIRECTLY IN YOUR SUMMARY. If you do so, you’ll receive a zero for the assignment, and your summary will be excluded from the draw for the final exam.

According to the SCHEDULE defined below, you will produce a complete draft of the summary by the midterm. GRADING will reflect (see below) the completeness, clarity/organization, and accuracy of your summary document. Since we will not know until the final which Order you’ll be answering questions on, your classmates are depending on you to produce a document that will allow them to succeed. Since this is true, your classmates will have a chance at the midterm to contribute to the assessment and grading of your summary. After the midterm you will have a chance to revise your document in response to feedback from us, and from your classmates.

The contents of your summaries will vary by Order, but MUST contain the following:

  1. The name of your group (both common and scientific)
  2. The number of families and species in the Order
  3. The geographic distribution of birds in the Order
  4. Major characteristics of the Order (e.g., defining anatomical and/or behavioral characteristics; social/mating systems; evolutionary principles exemplified in the group).
  5. How both the name and membership of the group has differed over time and expert analysis (for example, the Struthioniformes = Ostriches, or, according to some authorities, the Struthioniformes = Ostriches, Rheas, Emus, Cassowaries, Kiwis, and Tinamous)
  6. The sister Order to your Order – which Order contains their nearest relatives?
  7. A statement about how stable you expect this Order, as named, to be – given what you’ve found out, do you expect the name, membership or phylogenetic position to change over the next 10 years?
  8. The sources of your information. Your textbook, and the textbook website are acceptable starting points, but not sufficient; we expect you to seek out and use other sources of information. Acceptable sources include: papers from the primary literature (e.g., the December 2014 Jarvis et al. paper in Science on whole-­‐genome analysis; link is on the class web page under “Optional Reading” for January 28), published books and online resources produced by national and international taxonomy committees (e.g., the list produced by the International Ornithological Congress at and experts (e.g. the pages, and references within, the Tree of Life project at Wikepedia is NOT an acceptable source, but may point you to acceptable primary sources. Other web sites may be acceptable, if they include their primary references – if you can’t see where a website got the information displayed, that website is not likely to be acceptable to us as a source. If you aren’t sure if a source is acceptable, check with us. You may also include details, examples, or information you glean from my lectures by citing them as “EEB 4260 lecture”. You will be using the style of citation used in the journal Nature: see formatting standards for this citation style here.

Your summary must be no longer than 2 pages (both sides of a single sheet of paper), in a 12 pt SERIF font, with margins of at least 0.5 inches on all sides. Line spacing can be no less than single-­‐spaced (=12 pt). You may include pictures, graphs, maps or diagrams, but a) they must have a copyright that allows use (e.g., Creative Commons), b) their source must be acknowledged and fully attributed in your source list, and c) they must be discernable/understandable in black and white. Use the style of citation used in the journal Nature to cite your sources: see formatting standards for this citation style here.


This assignment is worth a total of 100 points; 80 points for work on your summary up until the midterm (including your work as a peer reviewer), and an additional 20 points available in final revision. At each due date defined below, you LOSE a POINT/DAY for late turn-­‐ in.


By February 1 Choose and sign up for an Order, by checking on the class web page which Orders are already taken, and emailing the TA with your request (No points, but you LOSE 1 point per day from next turn-in for lateness)

February 15  1st draft due: outline of the organizational structure of your summary, with at least a single sentence of information (this qualifies it for review by us; more is required for full points) in each of the Required Content information items listed above, plus a list of at least four information sources you’ll be using. Submit as a Word document via email. (20 points)

March 8 MIDTERM: Complete 2nd draft of Ordinal Summary due in class; you must email them to us by 10 a.m. AND bring FOUR complete hard copies of your summary on paper. Print (or copy) them double-­‐sided, so that each copy of your summary consists of a single sheet of paper, printed on both sides. (40 points) + an additional grade (10 points) determined by the comments of your peers on your summary, which will be the test of whether you are well organized, clear, and providing enough detail.

AT THE MIDTERM: Provide constructive peer review to 3 of your classmates on their Ordinal Summaries. We will be assessing whether you provide constructive, actionable feedback that will contribute to your peers’ ability to improve their Summaries. (10 points)

March 22 We will hand back grade sheets and peer reviews of your summary. Begin revisions in response to feedback.

April 24  Final, revised draft of your Ordinal Summary due, via email to TA. (20 points) If we do not receive a revised draft of your summary by this date, the version of your summary we received at the midterm will be used in the draw of summaries handed out to the class for use at the final exam.

Date TBA  Final exam. We will choose (via random draw) the Order which will serve as the basis for your answers to the final exam questions; you will be given a hard copy of the chosen summary (60 pts).


Forms of class-­‐wide collaboration allowed for this assignment include: sharing information about useful resources, discussing formatting or summary structure to increase clarity and ease of use of the final product, discussion of the information and level of detail in the summary that will make it most useful for taking the final with, discussions with the authors of summaries for orders that are the sister orders of yours, in order to better understand relationships.

Forms of collaboration that are PROHIBITED: Answering the final exam questions directly in your Ordinal Summary is strictly prohibited. Writing any part of a summary for any other student. Using in your summary any part of a summary written by any other student. If we detect this, all students involved will receive a zero on the whole assignment. Refusal to discuss or share with another student any information you have discussed or shared with any other student (i.e., if you do something for one other student, you must be willing to do it for all other students). Any form of academic misconduct: as defined in the Student Code, “Academic misconduct is dishonest or unethical academic behavior that includes, but is not limited, to misrepresenting mastery in an academic area (e.g., cheating), failing to properly credit information, research or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research or ideas as your own (e.g., plagiarism).” Anything that involves copying word for word, or cutting and pasting text into your document from elsewhere, is plagiarism. If we detect plagiarism, you will receive a zero for the whole assignment.