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Field Ecology Notebook

By Donna Cates

Field Ecology is designed to teach students general scientific methods, procedures, and thinking skills, as well as specific methods and procedures used to study plants and animals in their natural setting. The objectives for this project are as follows:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to apply scientific methods to solving problems.
  2. Demonstrate proper methods of observing and recording scientific data.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to measure in metric units and graph data correctly.
  4. Assess the interrelationships of living and non-living factors in a specific habitat.

The student will select a one-meter square area near his home that is in a natural setting. Observations are to be made in the area at least once a week, weather permitting, from January until April 1. Beginning April 1, observations must be made twice a week, until the end of the term. A notebook must be kept and must include the following:

  • Temperature recordings

  • Description of location, including a drawing

  • Soil description

  • Description of number and kinds of plants and animals

  • Description of changes observed after introducing a food source

  • Recording of rainfall during the interim periods

  • Recording of emergence of plants and measurememnts and graphs of their growth

  • Observations of interactions among organisms

The following list includes suggestions for optional entries that will enhance the observations:

  • Identification of organisms into genus and species

  • Temperature variations from morning to afternoon to night

  • Light levels (compare different times of day)

  • Sound levels (compare different times of day)

  • Photographs

  • Audio or video recordings

  • Descriptions subdivided into levels (for example: animals found at ground level as compared to animals found at 12 inches above as compared to animals found at 3 inches below ground)

  • Personal thoughts and comments

  • Observations more than once a week

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