The International Network of Next-Generation Ecologists is surveying ecologists about their knowledge of mathematics and their views on how to incorporate mathematics into the training of ecologists. It’s a short survey (it took me less than a minute), go take it here.
Fantastic! Four new posts means a good reading day. About the survey, if ecology students need more math and statistics *and* a background in the philosophy of science, the training should probably start earlier than undergrad, don’t you think? Thanks for the great links.
Yes, graduate training is all about allocation of limited time and the associated trade-offs and opportunity costs. Fortunately, it actually doesn’t take too much time to at least identify and raise many conceptual issues, like the one I raised earlier today about creating “significant” statistical results from nothing. You don’t need a whole bunch of stats courses to recognize and think sensibly about that issue, but can run into serious problems if you don’t recognize the issue at all.
So I do think we could get a lot of “bang for the buck”, in terms of improving the statistical practice of ecologists, if undergrads and grad students spent just a bit less time learning technical details, how-to-get-R-to-do-analysis-X, and the latest fancy techniques, and just a bit more time thinking about philosophical fundamentals. I do *not* have more or different formal statistical training than the average ecologist, or more training in philosophy of science (the few philosophy courses I took as an undergrad were mostly ethics and political philosophy). But I do have a pretty firm grasp of the conceptual fundamentals, some of it acquired from “pleasure” reading on my own time. Far from being irrelevant to day-to-day practice, these fundamentals actually help me deal with all kinds of everyday statistical judgment calls.
Thanks for your reply. I’m sort of a novice, in my opinion, about ecology, statistics, and philosophy, so I hope my contribution is appropriate, but I feel your blog, along with the others I regularly read, paints a really great picture of how ecologists approach their work. I certainly would never have pursued statistics except that I was introduced to hypothesis testing through my undergraduate ecology class, and the effect was to make both disciplines more interesting and comprehensible – likewise, reading John Wilkins’ “Species” made me more interested in the philosophy of biology and ecological modeling – which led me back to the Oikos blog. Such a great synergy going on here.
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Thanks for this. I just re-blogged it. FWIW, Marty Krkosek is a great guy too! (re: the Bamfield course)
Thanks to the Oikos blog for covering the survey on math in ecology
So far more than 500 have responded.
– INNGE Working Group