In your pre-proposal, you put together a list of scientific literature on your species. For your proposal, you should read those papers (and others I've suggested if I told you your pre-proposal was missing some), summarize the relevant literature on your species, and propose ideas for your project.
For most of your species, the obvious project will be to collect a large number of individuals (50 to 100) from each of several locations, and compare the allele frequencies between those locations. If there's statistically significant variation (don't worry, you'll learn how to test the statistical significance later in the semester), you'll see whether it is correlated with something about the environment.
If you want to see if allele frequencies are correlated with some environmental variable, it helps to collect from areas that have obvious differences in that variable. For example, you might collect from shady vs. sunny areas, or woods vs. fields, or different host plants, or lower vs. upper Delaware Bay. For most of you, I've already suggested a project to follow up on results from previous classes. But you might have thought of ways to modify my original suggestion, or do something completely different.
Before you write them up, be sure to discuss your ideas for your project with me, either in person or via e-mail.
On Tuesday, Sept. 19, you must turn in your proposal. This will be worth 10% of your overall grade. It will basically be a first draft of the Introduction and part of the Materials and Methods of your final allozyme paper. It should start with the basic background information on your species that you put in your pre-proposal: what it looks like, where it lives, what it eats, how to catch it, etc.
Next, you should review the relevant literature. Some of your species will not have much relevant literature; there may be nothing about genetic variation, and very little about where they live, what they eat, etc. That's okay! In that case, read all the papers about your species carefully and see if they have any scrap of useful information. For example, you might have a paper about the neuroanatomy of the isopod Oniscus asellus. Don't summarize the information about neuroanatomy, because it's boring and irrelevant, but scrutinize the Methods section; they may say "Isopods were collected from Head of the Harbor, NY using potato traps" and that would be relevant because it tells you that your species lives on Long Island and can be collected using potato traps.
Some of your species have lots of papers about them. In that case, limit yourself to papers about genetic variation. Genetic variation can be measured with the old-fashioned allozyme technique that we're using, and those papers are the most relevant; but also look for papers that measure genetic variation using DNA sequencing, RAPDs, AFLPs, etc.
If your species has previous allozyme research, give the relevant details. Say where the researchers collected your species, what enzymes they looked at, which enzymes were polymorphic and which were monomorphic. For the polymorphic ones, give a table with the allele frequencies at the different locations.
After you've summarized the relevant literature, you should have a section labelled "Proposed research" where you describe what samples you're going to collect and what you hope to find out from them. Some of you will already have collected some or all of your samples; for you, this section will be in the past tense. You should have a map showing where you collected from and a table showing latitude and longitude, date, and how many individuals you got at each location. If you haven't collected yet, this section will be in the future tense, saying where you will collect.
You must cite the sources of your information, using the reference format shown near the bottom of the paper instructions.
There's no minimum or maximum length for the proposal; it will depend on how much research has been published on your species. I will just be looking to see that you've done a thorough job of reviewing the relevant literature, and have described clearly what you plan to do.
Return to the Genetics Lab syllabus