NES8010 : Quantitative Ecological Research Methods
- Offered for Year: 2019/20
- Module Leader(s): Dr Aileen Mill
- Lecturer: Dr Heather Sugden, Dr Roy Sanderson, Dr Alastair Ward, Dr Clare Fitzsimmons, Dr Mark Shirley, Dr William Reid, Dr Alan Jamieson, Professor Stephen Rushton, Dr Benjamin Wigham
- Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
- Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
|Semester 1 Credit Value:||20|
Understanding approaches and development of skills in academic and ecological research, survey and consultancy, including proposal writing, project planning, sampling design, scientific reporting, statistical analysis and modelling.
A unique module taking students through practical, technical and statistical approaches to survey design and description of ecological change in marine and terrestrial habitats and species.
Outline Of Syllabus
Ecological sampling and survey design: Planning and delivering biological surveys, implementation of ecological sampling methods, interpretation of data on richness, diversity, extent and rarity in relation to spatial scale. Developing research questions and detecting and addressing systematic sampling error. Introduction to R including data manipulation and analysis and tidy data methods. Revision of basic statistical terms and assumptions.
Data analysis and Modelling: Multivariate modelling, Data exploration and analysis of community data in R and PRIMER. Regression and mixed effects models, Structural Equation Modelling using the latest packages in R, Practical modelling approaches for analysing natural systems using the generalised linear model framework.
Option A (numbers capped at 24 – preference given to IMEC students)
Boat based sampling: Planning and delivering boat based surveys, hard and soft substrata. Cost-effectiveness in sampling strategy and methods, interpretation of data as above. Introduction to novel methods (1 day). Group exercise on project design.
Vertebrate population assessment: Survey design and data analysis of established methods for population assessment and monitoring with both field and exercise based examples (including camera trapping, CMR and analysis of GPS data). Methods include spatial analysis and understanding of detection probability in models.
Policy relevance: Communicating uncertainty for policy makers and decision makers.
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||1||30:00||30:00||8 page data analysis report (12 pt Times Roman single space, approx. 2000 words with plots & table)|
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||1||30:00||30:00||8 page project design report (12pt Times Roman single space, approx. 2000 words with plots & tables)|
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||1||30:00||30:00||Follow up to workshops – Includes background reading and review of lecture notes.|
|Guided Independent Study||Skills practice||10||3:00||30:00||Data handling, descriptive statistics, multivariate analysis, generalised linear modelling|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Workshops||1||3:00||3:00||Evidence for Policy/ communicating uncertainty (APHA) workshops/seminars|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Fieldwork||3||8:00||24:00||Fieldwork / Workshops. Practical survey design and data collection and analysis|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Fieldwork||2||8:00||16:00||Practical skill development of survey methods|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Fieldwork||3||8:00||24:00||Shore based ecological survey and sampling at Dove Marine|
|Guided Independent Study||Independent study||1||13:00||13:00||Data analysis and modelling exercises|
Teaching Rationale And Relationship
A series of workshops which will be formed of a mix of seminars, class discussion, computing practicals and fieldwork teaching will be used to introduce several key environmental research techniques. Students will work in small groups for practical and fieldwork and class presentation of results, and participate in group discussion. Use of worked examples on statistical methods and data manipulation, introduced in practical sessions, and followed up on in students' own time will supplement teaching in practicals and workshops. Workshops will cover statistical application, working through problem solving exercises in groups and provide the hands-on training experience to enable students to develop ecological models from first principles. Student-led problem-solving leads to independent study
Practical classes provide the learning environment for students to develop key transferable practical skills in statistics, field and boat based survey methods. These classes allow students to practise their skills as they explore a range of exercises (ISO1-3). Seminars and class discussion provide feedback during development of these skills. The strong emphasis on quantitative and practical skills reflects what is required in the workplace. However, they need to be underpinned by a sound theoretical understanding of principles. The workshops and practicals are integrated so that they mutually reinforce each other.
The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners
|Report||1||M||50||Data Analysis Report. 8 page, 2000 words, on ecological data analysis problem|
|Report||1||M||50||Quantitative Methods Report. 8 page, 2000 words, on survey methods and analysis.|
Assessment Rationale And Relationship
The written data analysis report will assess the students depth of knowledge and understanding of the statistical approaches taught. The students will work through numerical exercises and provide visualisation and interpretation of the results.
Practical classes provide formative assessment of students’ progress in developing transferable practical skills in numerical methods, field and boat based survey methods, and spatial processing and interpretation by means of seminars and workbook materials which allow students to assess their skills as they explore a range of exercises.
Subsequently, the quantitative methods report provides a summative assessment of the development of their practical computer and numeracy skills in an ecological context.
These transferable skills are most valuable in the job market and thus the primary focus is on developing and assessing these.