Learning Objective: Technological innovation and enhanced methods of statistical analysis have allowed field ecologists to study phenomena that would have been largely inaccessible to researchers until recently. The basis of successful and innovative field studies, however, is an acquaintance with organisms and a mastery of tried and tested field techniques. In this field course we will acquaint ourselves with a variety of field techniques used to study aquatic and terrestrial organisms and ecosystems, both basic and tech-based methods. More fundamentally we will emphasise the most important, and often most elusive, component of all field ecology: how does one craft an ecological study worth conducting?
Content: The course will be a two-week intensive course conducted in the field. The course will comprise three components: (1) an introduction to field methods via lectures, demonstrations, and a class activity; (2) a group research project, and (3) an individual project. Through the duration of the course there will be the reading and evaluation of classic research papers, presentations by guest lecturers, and miniworkshops on experimental design and statistical analysis.
Learning outcomes: By the completion of the course, students should be empowered to formulate research questions, design field experiments, and carry out appropriate statistical analyses. All course participants should be able to understand field methods reported in the majority of published papers in ecology, and be able to fine tune field and analytical methods according to the research question and organism under study. Most importantly, course participants should come away with a sense of accomplishment, with a heightened appreciation of and interest in field biology.