Addresses course outcomes 1, 3, 4:
-recognize and explain how the scientific method is used to solve problems
– weigh evidence and make decisions based on strengths and limitations of scientific knowledge and the scientific method
– use knowledge of biological principles and the scientific method to ask relevant questions, develop hypotheses, design and conduct experiments, interpret results, and draw conclusions
This assignment will give you the opportunity to participate in ongoing scientific research. For the past several years, I have been involved in ecological research in old-growth forests in Wisconsin. A major problem in many woods is that the forest floor is dominated by a grasslike species, Pennsylvania sedge (likely due to the effects of high deer populations). Another problem in many areas is that dominant trees, such as white pine and sugar maple, do not show successful reproduction to replace old pines and maples that die.
With support from a UMUC Faculty Research Grant to create this assignment, I collected data this summer to address the question, “Does Pennsylvania sedge inhibit regeneration of trees?” Your assignment will be to follow the steps of the scientific method to analyze the field data to test the hypothesis that sedge inhibits tree reproduction. We will also examine a second hypothesis that the sedge cover lowers biodiversity. You will also be asked to generate new hypotheses from the data. (You also will be use the technology of Google Earth to examine the study site.)
You will be given the background and specifics of the assignment in detail during Week 4. The written report on the assignment will be due Monday 2 April at the end of Week 6 and worth 15% of your grade.