The concepts we’ve learned about during this week’s series, space and time, hold a very important role within scientific research, more specifically, within experimental design. We may also refer to these aspects as spatial and temporal factors, respectively.
|An important question to ask in research: So What?|
Researchers need to be very mindful of these scales when asking their research questions. This questions will lead to treatment and experimental structure.
When scientists study genetics, they use fruit flies and not elephants. Life span is important.
When entomologists study insects, they often have to consider multiple life stages that occupy both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Some insects live days, while some may live over a decade.
When climate researchers collect data, they do so over centuries. Perspective related to time is important. Repetition is vital to minimizing experimental error.
100+ years is a long time! Certainly longer than any one researcher could record. (Dang, that would be one heck of a PhD project). However, as science is a field of collaboration, communication, and networks, people have found a way to develop approaches to address the limitations our lifespans present. Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) is currently being conducted at 26 different sights in the U.S. that spans multiple ecosystem types, environmental conditions, and varying levels of human domination of the landscape.
|Different Scales within Research|
|Grand Canyon Temporal Scale – Click for Full Size|
Implicit Scaling in Ecological Research
Choosing appropriate temporal and spatial scales for ecological research
Relative Importance of Spatial and Temporal Scales in a Patchy Environment
Expanding the Temporal and Spatial Scales of Ecological Research and Comparison of Divergent Ecosystems: Roles for LTER in the United States