The first round of info packets from team ecologists has just come. Here
are some quick reactions that may help other ecologists. Some of these
comments may carry over to other dimensions as well.
First and foremost, as we have tried to emphasize, it's important to go to
the source. If you see in a Times article that "A new study by x has shown
y...", it is your job to find the study and evaluate it as best you can. In
spite of efforts to be objective, newspaper reporters can spin (or be spun
on) an issue. The closest thing you have to ecological "fact" is the raw
science. Once again, a good place to look for this is in scientific
databases such as Agriola or the Environment Index.
It should easy for ecologists to find material for the attachments part of
the assigment. Just follow this simple rule:
SHOW ME THE DATA!
Copy graphs or data tables from scientific publications that you find
particularly interesting or relevant to your understanding and analysis of
the problem. This is relatively undiluted information!
You may also come across whole books that relate to your problem. As
ecologists, you should be clear about whether or not the book is a
scientific treatment or summary of the problem (rule of thumb: SHOW ME THE
DATA). It may have been written to serve some other purpose (who published
Reminder to ALL team members: the discussion and questions are supposed to
about integration: getting at how you findings relate to what other team
members are doing or to the overall problem. That's not easy, but give it a
School of Natural Resources
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405