Practical Field Ecology: A Project Guide by C. Philip Wheater, James R. Bell & Penny A. Cook - Book review

Practical Field Ecology

A Project Guide

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

Published: June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 388 pages
ISBN-10: 0470694289
ISBN-13: 978-0470694282
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

"This handbook is designed as a guide to planning and executing an ecological research project and is intended as a companion to preparing a dissertation, report, thesis or research paper", write C. Philip Wheater of Manchester Metropolitan University, James R. Bell of Rothamsted Research, and Penny A. Cook of Liverpool John Moores University, in their comprehensive and very hands on book Practical Field Ecology: A Project Guide. The authors describe how to plan, prepare, monitor and sample, analyze, and present the results of a field study project in a range of ecological subject areas.

C. Philip Wheater (photo left), James R. Bell, and Penny A. Cook introduce the concepts of experimental design, and data analysis, and data interpretation for creating successful and meaningful research projects. The authors also provide the techniques required for field monitoring plants and animals.

The main focus of the book is to instruct researchers in the appropriate methods required to design a field based ecological survey and how to put into action an appropriate sampling system. The authors provide the research skills for any number of field studies in a wide range of organisms, various habitats, and both specialized and general ecological projects.

James R. Bell (photo left), Penny A. Cook, and C. Philip Wheater guide students and researchers through all stages of a complete field research project. The six chapters of the book provide a complete overview of planning, executing, analyzing, and reporting on the chosen topic of study.

The book's six chapters include:

* Preparation for the project including all internal and external factors
* Monitoring the site characteristics
* Sampling static organisms including the various measurement techniques
* Sampling mobile organisms including vertebrates and invertebrates
* Analyzing and interpreting data including mathematical techniques
* Presenting the information including report structure and writing style

Penny A. Cook (photo left), C. Philip Wheater, and James R. Bell offer a solid foundation for students and researchers to develop a sound research project. For me, the power of the book is how the authors combine the theoretical background to ecological research concepts with a complete series of practical steps for every aspect of the study. The book is divided logically in the order of the process, and each chapter is well defined. The authors offer many illustrative black and white photographs of the techniques in action, along with data graphs and charts that demonstrate how the information should be recorded and presented most effectively.

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.

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