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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Kirchoff, Bruce K. [1], Simms, Ellen [2], Remington, David L. [1].

Finding New Characters: An Exploration of Seed Coat Patterns in Lupines.

New domains of character exploration create problems for the investigator. How does one recognize a character in a complex, heterogeneous domain which has never been investigated? We have addressed this problem by applying insights from cognitive psychology to the problem of visual character recognition in Lupinus seeds. Although descriptions of seed coat patterns exist for Lupinus polyphyllus, L. pilosus, and Phaseolus vulgarus, only a few of these characters are found in Lupinus nanus and L. bicolor, our study taxa. Seed coat patterns in these species also appear to be more diverse than those in the former taxa. To address these problems we engaged in a series of sorting and visual training tasks in order to identify sets of similarly patterned seeds in a sample of 220 seeds from 220 maternal families, one seed per family. The process of sorting and visual training was repeated until a high degree of fidelity could be achieved in recognizing the groups. 21 groups were reliably recognized based on the gestalts of the seeds. One seed was then randomly selected from each group and used to define analytic characters. Characters were defined through a collaborative process in which three scientists independently identified characters in the 21 seeds then collaboratively agreed upon verbal labels by which to identify these characters. 18 characters resulted from this process. Reliability within a maternal family was investigated by photographing both lateral sides of 10 randomly selected seeds per family from 11 families that represented as many collection localities as possible, and incorporated both species. The 220 photographs were given to nine students who sorted them into groups in an attempt to see if the original families could be recovered. In general, the families were recovered with high consistency and fidelity, though some difficulties occurred with primarily white seeds.

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1 - University of North Carolina Greensboro, Department of Biology, Po Box 26170, Greensboro, North Carolina, 27402-6170, USA
2 - Univeristy of California at Berkeley, Department of Integrative Biology, 3060 Valley Life Sciences Bldg #3140, Berkeley, CA, 94720-3140

seed coat
cognitive psychology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 51
Location: 212/SUB
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Time: 3:45 PM
Number: 51001
Abstract ID:218

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