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Biodiversity is a measure of the numbers of species that make up a biologic community and is considered to be one of the more important aspects of community organization and structure. The factors contributing to differences in the levels of diversity between communities are not fully understood and remain a topic of scientific debate.
The purpose of this coursework is to present you with some real data which you should analyse and interpret to the best of your ability. The aim is to identify whether butterfly biodiversity has changed in the Monks Wood site during a period of over 40 years. A number of resources are available, including Excel (for graphically presenting data), SPSS (or equivalent statistical packages for data analysis) and a program called ‘PAST’ (can be downloaded from the internet or see Dr. Routledge) which has a number of useful features (including Diversity Statistics), all of which could be utilised with a little practice and effort.
The main objective of this assignment is to get you thinking about biodiversity and how we measure it, and the challenges we face when trying to make sense of real ecological data. There are a number of ways in which the data could be analysed and interpreted, for instance using some common indicators of biodiversity (including species diversity and evenness). Details of how to calculate these are given below (see ‘Procedure’). Alternatively, you can use software like ‘PAST’ to do this for you. To get you started on the right track, we would suggest that you:
Numerical indices are often calculated to quantitatively describe different levels of diversity and evenness in samples collected from different areas, environments, or at different times from the same environment. One example might involve an evaluation of possible biologic changes caused by modifying the environment – our interest in this exercise.
Remember: The value of D is highest when species are equally abundant.
E = eD/s; Details: e = 2.7 (= constant), D = the value of the Shannon-Weaver Information Function, and s = number of species in sample (= simple species diversity).
For our example: E = eD/s = 2.71.35/5 = 3.82/5 = 0.764
NB: Use the ‘Xy’ key on the calculator when you calculate Species Evenness
All word processing should be font size 12 with 1.5 line spacing and default page margins (2.5cm top and bottom, and 3.17cm left and right). Please adhere to within 10% of the word limits set.
Please provide your student ID number, date of submission, module number (IE5601) and the assignment title (Assessment of Butterfly biodiversity in Monks Wood).
Write a short introduction about biodiversity; what it means, why it is important, the factors affecting biodiversity, whether there is evidence that human activities are affecting biodiversity and the merit of producing wild life sanctuaries within large urban developments. Make sure you state the AIMS of this report.
Detail the approaches you took to analyse the data, the indices calculated and measured (and what they mean), and the statistical methods applied.
Present not more than 8 carefully designed figures (for instance six graphs and two tables, or four graphs and four tables, or equivalent) with appropriate detailed legends to help illustrate key messages within the data. The results section should describe what the data show. Do not be tempted to discuss your findings here - this comes later (in the Discussion).
Evaluate and describe your results within the context of what is known about Biodiversity. For instance, you could discuss whether (a) you would expect to see significant changes in butterfly biodiversity over the time scale of the study, (b) whether you believe the survey was adequate to address the question as to whether changes in butterfly biodiversity has occurred and (c) what factors might explain any changes in the abundance of butterflies that you have identified over time? These are just some suggestions for further thought, and there are many other messages that could be extracted from this data set that warrant further discussion.
Provide a complete list of reference material, and ensure that all references are referred to in the text.
Coursework must be submitted electronically through Blackboard learn and will be checked for originality using Turnitin (plagiarism detecting software).
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