Field Ecology BIOL*4410
Wildlife Research Station, Lake Sasajewun,
Field Ecology is offered annually in august at the Wildlife Research Station, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario. Students are responsible for designing, conducting and writing-up two independent research projects. Emphasis is placed on rigorously testing specific hypotheses in the field.
Students work closely with instructors during the first three days of the course. Instructors conduct modules that emphasize natural history, experimental design, field techniques, and statistical procedures. During this initial period, students must also refine their own hypotheses. Developing interesting hypotheses to test is surprisingly difficult; therefore, successful projects involve planning ahead. It is important to have identified several potential ecological problems to investigate prior to arriving at the research station. Instructors are available to discuss the feasibility of projects before the start of the field course. One of the projects must have a significant plant component.
The remaining ten days of the course are spent in the field collecting data. Time passes very quickly and, consequently, successful projects are usually straightforward and use organisms that are abundant and easy to observe. The most interesting projects often use plants or insects as study subjects. Data may be collected by small groups (2-3 individuals), but each student is responsible for submitting her/his own scientific paper for each project by the end of September.
This course requires a great deal of self-motivation and, naturally, student will only get out of it what they put into it. That said, the course functions as a useful introduction to conducting independent science and as preparation for further research. It is also a lot of fun.
Additional web site: The Science Behind Algonquin‘s Animals.
Specific details for this year‘s offering can be found in the Course Outline.
For additional course information contact:
Dr. Alex Smith
Department of Integrative Biology and
Biodiversity Institute of Ontario
University of Guelph,
Guelph, ON, Canada
519-824-4120, ext. 52007