REG-32306 Ecological Methods II


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical66
Excursion (one day)6
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. PA Patrick Jansen
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. L Mommer
dr. ir. FJ Sterck
dr. ir. PA Patrick Jansen
HJ de Knegt
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. F van Langevelde
dr. ir. PA Patrick Jansen
dr. ir. FJ Sterck
HJ de Knegt
prof. dr. ir. L Mommer

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

REG-31806 Ecological Methods I.

Continuation courses:

MSc thesis FEM, PEN or WEC.


Students learn how to design, plan, conduct, analyse and present ecological field and lab research projects. The emphasis is on the formulation of a challenging hypothesis and testable predictions, the design of sound experiments and surveys, and the choice and application of appropriate statistical techniques for ecological data analysis. Students carry out their own field research project, including both an experimental (lab) study and a correlative study (field survey), based on their own research proposal. These hypothesis-driven research projects serve as a good preparation for MSc thesis projects.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- formulate ecological hypotheses and testable predictions; 
- judge the variation, replication and sampling in experiments and surveys;
- design experiments and field surveys for testing predictions;
- choose measurements suitable for testing predictions;
- write a research proposal;
- properly apply statistics to a given data set and hypothesis;
- summarize and present the results of an ecological study.


The course includes the following activities
• self-study of the Ruxton & Colegrave (2016) book;
• lectures introducing the design of ecological research. The advantages and disadvantages of an experimental study versus a correlative field survey are explained. Emphasis is put on the choice and application of the experimental design, as the logical sequence to the statistical techniques mastered in Ecological Methods I (REG 31806);
• a digital test on experimental design;
• writing of a research proposal by groups of students, in close consultation with staff. The proposal includes a clear problem definition, hypothesis, justified methods and sampling techniques, proposed statistical data analyses, and a time schedule. The supervisors will provide detailed feedback;
• conducting the proposed research by the same groups, in or around Wageningen, to gain experience with research methods, logistical organisation, solving problems in the field, and data collection. Supervisors will advise and monitor progress;
• analysis and interpretation of the data, using appropriate statistical methods and software (SPSS, R, Canoco), by the same groups; 
• oral presentation of the findings by each group in a plenary session, with an emphasis on the choice and application of the experimental design, the field methods, and the statistical techniques for hypothesis testing.


- written exam with multiple choice questions on experimental design and methodology (25%);
- project proposal with emphasis on experimental design (25%);
- research project, data analysis, and presentation (50%).


Book: Ruxton & Colegrave (2016). Experimental Design for the Life Science. 4th edition. Oxford Univ. Press.

Restricted Optional for: MFNForest and Nature ConservationMScC: Spec. C - Ecology6WD