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
M Oct 8 Multi-causality in ecology and design Quinn & Dunham HW 6&7 Study
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
W Oct 31 Sampling & design III: Power & sample Sheiner & Guerevitch
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
M Dec 3 Ethics in research; Ethical Rationality in Peach; (S-F &
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 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'
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.
• 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
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).
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
Students can view and download all required readings from Dr. Sieving’s website:
• 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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