Working Our Way to the Top!

June 23rd, 2010 by adrake

Greetings from College of the Holy Cross,

After only four weeks of hard work in Claessens lab this summer, we are only 100 elements away from our goal! The database now holds 300 elements from 116 species. Today we uploaded a new species, the Brown-Headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). An interesting detail of the Brown-headed Cowbird is that it is a brood parasite. This means that it lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, letting the deceived birds bear the burden of raising the young. Check out the Brown-Headed Cowbird in action– . Now that the element models have been scanned, cleaned and uploaded, the bones are ready to be returned to the Yale Peabody Museum. A trip is scheduled for this upcoming Monday. Today, Ariana Masi and Maggie Johnson started to work on the educational skeletal model that is soon to be published on the database. The educational model of the bird skeleton will be an interactive tool with associated descriptions of the skeletal elements. On Thursdays, we have a Journal Club where we read and discuss either a journal article or chapters from the Morphometrics course. This week we are learning about Procrustes Superimpositions and shape transformations. Morphometrics is used to characterize organismal form by shape and size and quantify variation within and amongst species. In the Claessens lab, the senior research projects will employ the use of these studies in morphometrics for analyzing data.

In our continuing expansion of the Aves3d database, we are now working on the loan of material from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Stay tuned for the educational model and visit as we strive to reach our goal of 400 elements by the end of the Summer Research Program!

Until next time,
Stephanie John and Ariana Masi

Aves 3D adds new species to its database!

June 11th, 2010 by adrake


The Aves 3D Database has been growing rapidly in the first two weeks of the Holy Cross Summer Research Program. We are extremely excited about its progress and are happy to update you on the additions we have made. Over the past two weeks, we have added 33 skeletal  elements to the Database, bringing our total to 271 elements. We have also added five new species to the website. The new species include such interesting birds as the Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) and the African Darter (Anhinga rufa). We are enjoying our time spent in the lab and are learning new things everyday from Dr. Abby Drake concerning geometric morphometrics for biologists. We are reading the first three chapters of a course in Morphometrics written by Chris Klingenberg. Our goal for the summer is to delve deeper into an understanding of morphometrics and the process of characterizing shear and scaling transformations of morphological variation.  Each one of us is hoping to develop our own research project in detail and apply what we are learning from Dr. Drake. This summer has been great so far, and we are excited to reach our goal of having 400 elements on the database by the end of the summer.

Best Wishes,

Tiffany Medwid and Maggie Johnson

New: An Aves 3D Blog

June 3rd, 2010 by lclaesse

Aves3D Logo_Hello.

Welcome to the Aves 3D Database Blog.

The Aves 3D database has been live in Beta version since July 2009, and we officially launched the resource in February 2010 with media coverage in amongst others the journal Science and PLoS. Starting June 2010, we have added a blog to the database, where we will post updates on database activity and student work over the summer and during the academic year. In June and July, four undergraduate students are busy working in the lab, Stephanie John, who also worked in the lab last summer, and Maggie Johnson, Ariana Masi and Tiffany Medwid. Together with Abby, they are scanning and uploading new material on the database, and are also planning a cool educational module on the bird skeleton, explaining the various bones that make up a bird, and some of the interesting facts regarding their location, shape and function. We hope that you find the Aves 3D Database a useful and interesting resource, and welcome any comments on Aves 3D design and functionality you might have.

Best wishes,

Leon Claessens