Skip to main content

Practical Field Ecology: A Project Guide, 2nd Edition





Practical Field Ecology: A Project Guide, 2nd Edition

C. Philip Wheater, James R. Bell, Penny A. Cook

ISBN: 978-1-119-41322-6 February 2020 Wiley-Blackwell 400 Pages

Editions Next
Download Product Flyer

Download Product Flyer

Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description. Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description. Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description. Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description.


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.

The text is divided into 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.

New in the Second Edition

There are a few new areas that have developed in the 5 years since publication of the first edition (for example, in terms of some field techniques that have become more sophisticated, laboratory techniques that have now moved into the field at an appropriate cost, and some statistical techniques that are now more accessible). In addition, it would be beneficial to update websites, references, and some of the details (especially of the researchers highlighted) within the case studies. There are a few areas where additional illustrations, new case studies (and links to further references within the existing case studies), a slight expansion of some methods, and some additional explanation of more difficult concepts could help the reader. 

Dedication 13




Case Studies

Preface to the second edition 14

Preface to the first edition 15

Acknowledgements 16

Chapter 1 – Preparation 19

Choosing a topic for study 20

Ecological research questions 22

Monitoring individual species and groups of species 22

Monitoring species richness 23

Monitoring population sizes and density 23

Monitoring community structure 24

Monitoring behaviour 24

A note of caution 25

Creating aims, objectives and hypotheses 27

Reviewing the literature 28

Primary literature 29

Secondary literature 29

Other sources of information 29

Search terms 30

Reading papers 30

Practical considerations 31

Legal aspects 31

Ethical issues 32

Health and safety issues 33

Implementation 35

Pilot studies 39

Time management 39

Statistical considerations in project design 42

Designing and setting up experiments and surveys 44

Choosing sampling methods 45

Types of data 45

Sampling designs 47

Planning statistical analysis 54

Summary 59

Chapter 2 – Monitoring site characteristics 63

Site selection 63

Site characterisation 64

Habitat mapping 65

Examination of landscape scale 72

Measuring microclimatic variables 73

Monitoring substrates 79

Monitoring water 84

Other physical attributes 88

Measuring biological attributes 91

Identification 97

Chapter 3 – Sampling plants and other static organisms 103

Sampling techniques for static organisms 106

Seeds, fecundity and population dynamics 109

Quadrat sampling 110

Pin-frames 120

Transects 121

Distribution of static organisms 125

Forestry techniques 126

Chapter 4 – Sampling mobile organisms 134

General issues 134

Distribution of mobile organisms 138

Direct observation 138

Behaviour 139

Indirect methods 144

Capture techniques 144

Marking individuals 147

Radio-tracking 151

Population dynamics 152

Invertebrates 154

Direct observation 155

Indirect methods 157

Capture techniques 158

Marking individuals 160

Capturing aquatic invertebrates 164

Netting 166

Suction sampling 171

Benthic coring 171

Drags, dredges and grabs 172

Wet extraction 173

Artificial substrate samplers 174

Baited traps and refuges 175

Capturing soil-living invertebrates 177

Sieving 177

Floatation and phase-separation 178

Tullgren funnels and similar methods of dry extraction 179

Chemical extraction 182

Electrical extraction 183

Capturing ground-active invertebrates 184

Pitfall traps 184

Suction samplers 194

Emergence traps 196

Capturing invertebrates from plants 198

Pootering 200

Sweep netting 202

Beating 203

Fogging 204

Capturing airborne invertebrates 206

Sticky traps 209

Using attractants 210

Refuges 213

Flight interception (window and malaise) traps 214

Light traps 217

Rotary traps 226

Water (pan) traps 227

Fish 229

Direct observation 231

Indirect methods 232

Capture techniques 232

Marking individuals 237

Amphibians 239

Direct observation 241

Indirect methods 242

Capture techniques 243

Marking individuals 248

Reptiles 249

Direct observation 249

Indirect methods 250

Capture techniques 251

Marking individuals 256

Birds 258

Direct observation 260

Indirect methods 267

Capture techniques 270

Marking individuals 274

Mammals 276

Direct observation 277

Indirect methods 280

Capture techniques 288

Marking individuals 297

Chapter 5 – Analysing and interpreting information 298

Keys to tests 301

Exploring and describing data 306

Transforming and screening data 306

Spatial and temporal distributions 313

Population estimation techniques: densities and population sizes 314

Richness and diversity 319

Similarity, dissimilarity and distance coefficients 320

Recording descriptive statistics 322

Testing hypotheses using basic statistical tests and simple general linear models 322

Differences between samples 326

Relationships between variables 329

Associations between frequency distributions 334

More advanced general linear models for predictive analysis 336

Multiple regression 336

Analysis of covariance and multivariate analysis of variance 338

Discriminant function analysis 340

Generalized linear models 341

Extensions of the generalized linear model 345

Extensions of generalized linear models and GAMs into mixed-effects models 346

Statistical methods to examine pattern and structure in communities: classification, indicator species and ordination 347

Classification 348

Indicator species analysis 353

Ordination 355

Chapter 6 – Presenting information 367

Written reports 368

Title 369

Abstract 370

Acknowledgements 370

Contents 371

Introduction 371

Methods 372

Results 373

Discussion 378

References 379

Appendices 383

Archiving Data 383

Authors' Contributions 383

Writing style 384

Tense 386

Numbers 386

Abbreviations 388

Punctuation 389

Choice of font 391

Common mistakes 392

Computer files 393

Specific guidance for writing for a journal 394

Specific guidance for preparing a poster 397

Specific guidance for preparing an oral presentation 402

Summary 405

References 406

Appendix: Glossary of statistical terms 438