Field research is fundamentally different from typical laboratory research. The data that students need to collect often exhibit stochastic variation or daily and seasonal trends. Taking a 'snapshot" on a single day at a single time is often of little use beyond simple demonstration of a technique. In addition, the environments of interest are usually some distance from campus. The goal of this project is to enhance Ecology laboratories and allow students to observe, question, hypothesize, design, and research real-world ecological problems . This will be accomplished by the incorporation of computerized environmental monitoring equipment into existing laboratory exercises. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Biological Sciences possesses advanced laboratory facilities on campus, and has access to a wonderful variety of field sites through the UWM Center for Great Lakes Studies and UWM Field Station. However, we are severely handicapped in our abilities to carry out meaningful field laboratories with undergraduates because of out-dated or non-existent environmental measurement and monitoring equipment. Furthermore, in order to fully implement a research-based approach to teaching ecology laboratories, we must acquire the flexibility to gather data on a greater variety of spatial and temporal scales. We do not presently possess the equipment to collect the appropriate types of data to allow students to both ask and then attempt to answer meaningful scientific questions in our ecology labs. Instrumentation requested includes 16 terrestrial microclimate recording stations, 6 stream water chemistry multiprobes, and computer systems to access and analyze the data collected by these units. This equipment will allow students to follow up on initial observations early in the semester by asking and testing ecological hypotheses during the rest of the term. In addition to being used y other courses at UWM the data and project descriptions will be available on the class web site for use by other universities and high schools.
Integrating Spatial and Temporal Variability in Ecology Laboratories