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 2. Ecological research methods include observation, experimentation, and modeling

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PostSubject: 2. Ecological research methods include observation, experimentation, and modeling   03/03/09, 11:25 pm

OBSERVATION
• Observation is the act of carefully watching something over time
• Direct surveys- animals are easy to follow, can be viewed with naked eye or binoculars, or scopes
• Indirect surveys- animals are hard to track, scientists study by viewing feces or recent prey
• Radio telemetry- radio collar on animal sends out its location to scientist
• Find population size- capture and mark animal with ear tag, release them. When survey is repeated, captured animals include both marked and unmarked animals. Scientists count the ration to estimate population
• Find plant population size- count all plants in quadrats, or rectangular frames, plug count into mathematical formula
EXPERIMENTATION
• Pro- situation is easy to control
• Con- does not reflect the complex interactions that occur in nature
• Vice versa for observation
• Experimentation focuses on one organism at a time
• A lab experiment is conducted inside, in a controlled, indoor environment
• A field experiment is conducted where the organism lives
MODELING
• Computer and mathematical models of hypothetical situations created by real data
• Creates a virtual ecosystem
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