Who is at the worst?
salherra at ono.com
Tue Jul 9 15:11:27 EST 2002
I have just attended a course on quantitative sampling of behaviour and
population group structure of the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) in the
Ionian Sea (Greece), and this made me think on the, to a certain extain,
different approaches we have to assess pattern in both marine vertebrate
I would like to present the following line of discussion:
Population patterns of whatever kind are determined by a number of
generating mechanisms (processes) acting at different scales. However,
only once decisions have been taken as to how to measure pattern and how
to assess the scales of variation of the pattern measure selected, pattern
and process can be identified and interrelated.
Therefore, in order to account for a population pattern we face 3 factors
operating at various scales (i.e. 3 possible sources of error in perceiving
pattern): 1/ the scale of our sampling metthod, 2/ the scale of the natural
history feature under study in our population, and 3/ the scale of the
process/es affecting such feature. Most of us will be familiar with the idea
that, in biodiversity studies, the taxonomic level of species is no less a
classification than say that of reproductive modes. What is important is that
classifications discriminate guilds of organisms according to a range of
criteria (genetics, morphology, feeding, mobility,...), each of those guilds
being potentially influenced by a distinct set of processes and therefore valid
to answer particular ecological questions.
In designing a quantitative study, we may well want to follow 2 rules of
thumb: 1/ Huston (1994) suggested that experimental research should
maximise the detection of pattern (sensu heterogeneity) while minimising the
number of processes involved. 2/ The bigger an animal, the wider its ambit,
the lower its density. We zoologists always complain that we work on
estimates because we cant (and shouldnt) sample the whole population,
and this obvious remark (and the implicit scientific frustration!) is perhaps
exacerbated whether the total population amounts to millions or billions (i.e.
polychaetes) or to hundreds or at best thousands (all aquatic vertebrates to
my knowledge) (how unfair?: overall, do invertebrate researchers get less
money for a harder work?!!!).
I am currently writting a divulgative paper on the dolphin workshop referred to
above, and would appreciate any comment or bibliographic references on
the following question?
Do we have any comparison between measuring quantitative patterns
whether we are working on vertebrate or invertebrate species populations?
In other words, are say cetologists in a better possition than benthologists
because say in a chemical discharge causing mortality of the entire marine
fauna they can analyse chemical contents in the bodies of a percentage of
the total population of a dolphin species far greater than that of mostly any
invertebrate species? I am not sure perhaps this is a purely statistical
Biólogo, MPhil BSc
C/ Padre Jofre 19,piso 3, pta 7
12006 Castellón de la Plana
Teléfonos: (34) 964 038845 / (34) 657 787340
Mail: salherra at ono.com / salherra at ctv.es / salherra at ull.es
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