WIS 5496 Research Design in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

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					            WIS 5496: Research Design in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
                                Fall 2007 SYLLABUS



Date         Topic                                        Prep                   Due
M Aug 27     Course Intro: Science & induction
W Aug 29     Ecological theory & knowledge I: Content     Pickett 1-3            HW 1 Obs
M Sept 3     LABOR DAY HOLIDAY – No Class
W Sept 5     Ecological theory & knowledge II: Process    Pickett 4-5            HW 2 WOS
M Sept 10    “My Paradigm”                                Kuhn 1-6               HW 3 paradigm
W Sept 12    Logic structure – Hypothetical Walk
M Sept 17    Research Design Overview - Testing                                  HW 4 HDM
             modes and criteria
W Sept 19    History / science philosophy & ecology I     Gillies 1 & 2
M Sept 24    No Class (focus on HW!!!)
W Sept 26    History / science philosophy & ecology II    Gillies 10             HW 5 Bibliography
M Oct 1      Descriptive, Exploratory, & Case Study       Swisher; de Vaus;
             designs - examples
W Oct 3      Experimental & Comparative designs -         James & McCulloch
             examples
M Oct 8      Multi-causality in ecology and design        Quinn & Dunham         HW 6&7 Study
                                                                                 Design Background
W Oct 10     Design, testing criteria, & inference
M Oct 15     MIDTERM I
W Oct 17     On Being a Graduate Student,                                        HW 8 Advisor
M Oct 22     Research Proposals, finding funding          Proposals              HW 9 Funding COS
W Oct 24     Sampling & design I: Fundamental issues      Green
M Oct 29     Sampling & design II: Constraints &          Underwood
             biases
W Oct 31     Sampling & design III: Power & sample        Sheiner & Guerevitch
             size                                         2
M Nov 5      Sampling & design V:                         McGarigal
             Data structure, variables, & measures
W Nov 7      Stat analysis selection I:                   Bayesian folder (3
             Bayesian vs. Frequentist approaches          short papers)

M Nov 12     VETERANS DAY – NO CLASS
W Nov 14     Design Practicum I                                                  THEORY PAPER
M Nov 19     OFF
W Nov 21     THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY
M Nov 26     Stat analysis selection II                   Sheiner and
             Road-mapping                                 Guerevitch 1
W Nov 28     Design Practicum II                                                 HW 10 Design and
                                                                                 Methods
M Dec 3      Ethics in research; Ethical Rationality in   Peach; (S-F &
             Conservation                                 McCoy)
W Dec 5      MIDTERM II
Fri Dec 7    POSTER SESSION – NZ BREEZEWAY                1-3 PM                 POSTER
              WIS 5496: Research Design in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Instructor:         Dr. Katie Sieving, Associate Professor, Department of Wildlife
                    Ecology and Conservation,
                    Phone: 846-0569; UF username = chucao;
                    Website = http://www.wec.ufl.edu/faculty/SievingK/

Office:             320 Newins-Ziegler Hall

Office Hours:       MONDAY 1-2 PM         WEDNESDAY 1-3 PM

Class Meetings:     This class meets twice a week – up to 2 hours per meeting.
                    Mon/Wed – Periods 4&5, Room 2108 in McCarty Hall B
                    Class time = 10:40-12:35

                                      Course Description

Course Overview: WIS 5496 is designed for beginning graduate students studying ecological
disciplines related to conservation, M.Sc. or Ph.D., in the early stages of their research and
degree program. This course focuses primarily on the strategy of developing research projects.
A good strategy involves integrated development of the research question (hypothesis), desired
inference and outcomes of the study, with type of study design; all located within the context of
the disciplinary paradigm the student will be operating under. Tactics of design are also dealt
with in the second portion of the course, including sampling design and choice of statistical
methods based on the constraints that students face within their study systems. Activities
complimenting lecture material and readings include discussion, independent and group
projects, homework, and a polished research proposal and presentations related to students'
own research.

Learning Objectives:
   1. Understanding of the hypothetical-deductive process, and be conversant in modes and
      criteria for testing hypotheses.
   2. Understanding of the nature of ‘theory’ (systems of knowledge), its relationship to
      application, the structure and dynamics of ecological theory, and how theory supports
      any research endeavor.
   3. A basic grasp of the philosophy of science and, in particular, how the emerging
      philosophy of ecological science diverges from historical themes, and how science
      philosophy influences research approaches.
   4. Ability to select appropriate kinds of analyses for a given study design and question.
      (NOTE: This is NOT a stats course - you will not crunch any numbers in this class).
   5. Ability to discuss essentials of sampling and statistical design for data collection, and
      common constraints faced by field ecologists.
   6. Ability to explain how conservation objectives affect the ways we practice and use
      scientific logic, inference, and investigative and analytical processes.


Topics Covered:
  • Hypothesis Testing Logic under Ecological Paradigms
  • Experimental, Comparative, & ‘Case Study’ Designs
   •   Scientific Inference, Explanation, and Causality
   •   Falsification, Confirmation, Reductionism, Holism
   •   Brief history of Science Philosophy most Relevant to Ecology
   •   Sampling Design, Power Analysis, & Sample Size
   •   Selecting Appropriate Field and Statistical Methods
   •   Research Proposal Development and Defense
   •   Research Ethics and Conservation Science

Grading:             Participation (attendance, work-sharing, preparation)         100
                     2 midterms (100 each)                                         200
                     Proposal / Theory Paper                                       100
                     Poster Presentations & Critiques                              100
                     Homework (timely submission and effort; 20 each)              200
                                                                             Total 700

Course grade will be determined on a straight percentage accumulation of total points (90% or
more = A; B+ = 87-89%; B = 80-86%; C+ 77-79%; C = 70-76%; etc.), unless application of a
curve becomes necessary (usually for exams, it does).

Participation Points:
1) High quality discussions require readings to be done by the day that readings are listed.
   • You will need to keep a basic reading journal. This is because of the following.
   • I will collect Reading Notes from you each day of class that a reading is ‘due’ (at the
       beginning of class).
   • The format of these notes will be the following (they must be typed, not handwritten –
       your journal can be hand-written, but not what you hand in):
       o Part 1 – The main point of the reading (as you see it) – 1 paragraph, max.
       o Part 2 – up to 5 Key Concepts – briefly explained (2 sentences each). These are key
          concepts you found interesting. Some readings will have far more than 5 – you only
          need 5 explained. Some readings might only have 2 or 3 KC’s – then you only need
          to do that many.

Note – if you can’t do the reading and notes, then come to class and hand in a piece of paper
saying so – your grade will not suffer for missing a few. But if your grade (at the end of term) is
on the borderline, preparation in the form of regularly finished Reading Notes will kick your
grade up a level. A record of no reading prep could bump you down.

2) Hand in written assignments on time! I interact so much with students in this course, that to
have assignments trickle in is counterproductive – so I reserve the right to doc participation
points, and reduce the grade on homeworks and other assignments, after 1 day past the
deadline.

Required Readings:
Students can view and download all required readings from Dr. Sieving’s website:
   • http://www.wec.ufl.edu/faculty/SievingK/
   • click on Readings for my Courses,
   • then type in sieving (username) and readings (password).
   • Follow the course links (WIS 5496) to required readings.
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