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Practical Field Ecology : A Project Guide - C. Philip Wheater

Practical Field Ecology

A Project Guide

Paperback Published: 13th April 2011
ISBN: 9780470694299
Number Of Pages: 362

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This book introduces experimental design and data analysis / interpretation as well as field monitoring skills for both plants and animals. Clearly structured throughout and written in a student-friendly manner, the main emphasis of the book concentrates on the techniques required to design a field based ecological survey and shows how to execute an appropriate sampling regime. The book evaluates appropriate methods, including the problems associated with various techniques and their inherent flaws (e.g. low sample sizes, large amount of field or laboratory work, high cost etc). This provides a resource base outlining details from the planning stage, into the field, guiding through sampling and finally through organism identification in the laboratory and computer based data analysis and interpretation. <p> The text is divided into&nbsp;six distinct chapters. The first chapter covers planning, including health and safety together with information on a variety of statistical techniques for examining and analysing data. Following a chapter dealing with site characterisation and general aspects of species identification, subsequent chapters describe the techniques used to survey and census particular groups of organisms. The final chapter covers interpreting and presenting data and writing up the research. The emphasis here is on appropriate wording of interpretation and structure and content of the report.</p>

Industry Reviews

"I would certainly recommend this book to be used as a textbook for students undertaking higher level VET (Vocational EducationTraining) Certificates and Diplomas, as well as applications for first and second year levels of university." (Austral Ecology, 1 October 2013)

"This will be a great boom to tutors on residential field courses or lecturers supervising student projects as a part of degree courses, particularly those concerned with animal ecology, though there is much sound advice for those working on other groups of organisms." (Biodiversity and Conservation, 1 October 2012)

"With all the points above in mind, I know that I will make this book available to all my students. In fact, having read it, I can now even answer questions about slurp guns." (African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 1 November 2012)

"It is very informative and its 606 pages are a real bargain for £45.00." (British Ecological Society Bulletin, 1 August 2012)

"Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through graduate students." (Choice, 1 January 2012)

"The book is very well structured and takes the reader through the entire process of carrying out an ecological research project in clear and logically ordered sections ... The book contains a huge amount of information which is presented in a highly accessible way, with clear illustrations and case studies throughout." (Elsevier's Biological Conservation, 1 January 2012)

"I highly recommend the very thorough and approachable book Practical Field Ecology: A Project Guide by C. Philip Wheater, James R. Bell, and Penny A. Cook, to any students, researchers, ecologists, business people, and policy makers who are seeking a very well grounded guide to planning, executing, measuring, and reporting on any ecological project. This book provides the tools necessary to provide scientifically sound information for informed decision making in any ecology related field." (Blog Business World, 19 November 2011)




Case Studies.



1 Preparation.

Choosing a topic for study.

Ecological research questions.

Monitoring individual species and groups of species.

Monitoring species richness.

Monitoring population sizes and density.

Monitoring community structure.

Monitoring behaviour.

A note of caution.

Creating aims, objectives and hypotheses.

Reviewing the literature.

Primary literature.

Secondary literature.

Other sources of information.

Search terms.

Reading papers.

Practical considerations.

Legal aspects.

Health and safety issues.


Time management.

Project design and data management.

Designing and setting up experiments and surveys.

Types of data.

Sampling designs.

Planning statistical analysis.

Choosing sampling methods.


2 Monitoring site characteristics.

Site selection.

Site characterisation.

Habitat mapping.

Examination of landscape scale.

Measuring microclimatic variables.

Monitoring substrates.

Monitoring water.

Other physical attributes.

Measuring biological attributes.


3 Sampling static organisms.

Sampling techniques for static organisms.

Quadrat sampling.



Distribution of static organisms.

Forestry techniques.

4 Sampling mobile organisms.

General issues.

Distribution of mobile organisms.

Direct observation.


Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.



Direct observation.

Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.

Capturing aquatic invertebrates.


Suction sampling.

Benthic coring.

Drags, dredges and grabs.

Wet extraction.

Artificial substrate samplers.

Baited traps.

Capturing soil-living invertebrates.

Dry sieving.

Floatation and phase-separation.

Tullgren funnels as a method of dry extraction.

Chemical extraction.

Electrical extraction.

Capturing ground-active invertebrates.

Pitfall traps.

Suction samplers.

Emergence traps.

Capturing invertebrates from plants.


Sweep netting.



Capturing airborne invertebrates.

Sticky traps.

Using attractants.


Flight interception (window and malaise) traps.

Light traps.

Rotary traps.

Water traps.


Direct observation.

Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.


Direct observation.

Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.


Direct observation.

Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.


Direct observation.

Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.


Direct observation.

Indirect methods.

Capture techniques.

Marking individuals.

5 Analysing and interpreting information.

Keys to tests.

Exploring and describing data.

Transforming and screening data.

Spatial and temporal distributions.

Population estimation techniques: densities and population sizes.

Richness and diversity.

Similarity, dissimilarity and distance coefficients.

Recording descriptive statistics.

Testing hypotheses using basic statistical tests and simple general linear models.

Differences between samples.

Relationships between variables.

Associations between frequency distributions.

More advanced general linear models for predictive analysis.

Multiple regression.

Analysis of covariance and multivariate analysis of variance.

Discriminant function analysis.

Generalized linear models.

Extensions of the generalized linear model.

Statistical methods to examine pattern and structure in communities: classification, indicator species and ordination.


Indicator species analysis.


6 Presenting the information.












Writing style.





Choice of font.

Common mistakes.

Computer files.



Appendix 1 Glossary of statistical terms.


ISBN: 9780470694299
ISBN-10: 0470694297
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 362
Published: 13th April 2011
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.88 x 16.51  x 2.29
Weight (kg): 0.64
Edition Number: 1

Earn 122 Qantas Points
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