Connections 20063. Ecology: A Statistical Approach
Ecology is unique among the biological sciences for its dependence on applied statistical techniques from experimental design to data analysis. This is because ecology is a field science and numerous sources of variability effect field-collected data. That is, field data typically have much “noise” and it is essential to apply statistical techniques in order to detect a “signal.” The emergence of ecology as a strong, essential science in the latter half of the 20th century is largely due to the availability of computers to permit sophisticated and robust statistical procedures to be applied to large field-generated data sets. This lesson is vital for students of ecology and is taught during the first labs, then reinforced throughout the semester. It seems obvious that connecting with a basic course in statistics provides a catalyst for students in fully understanding how ecology is done. In turn, students of statistics would profit from using actual data sets generated by ecology students.