Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation

Article excerpt

Review: Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation By Peter Feinsinger Peter Feinsinger. Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation. Washington, DC: Island Press, for The Nature Conservancy, 2001. 212 pp. ISBN 1-55963-878-8. $US27.50

In the light of my own extensive experience in on-ground assessment of natural values, this is an excellent book. It firmly embeds the practice of field-based assessment in sound scientific conceptualization and process. While doing that, Feinsinger shatters the common myth that science can be defined as what scientists do! Then, simply by setting statistical analysis aside as one of the tools which might be called upon only when it is (a) useful and relevant and (b) we have or can obtain appropriate quality of data, he does away with simplistic recipes. He also emphasizes that statistical significance is NOT biological significance. In summary, it is not only a guide to effective assessment, but also a challenge to genuinely attain exactly that.

More specifically, he commences with a general introduction to the principles of good field practice, then turns to question definition. From that, he demonstrates how the design of data collection must be matched to the question and discusses the potential character of sampling ("Design is a process of compromise").

Feinsinger then proceeds to demonstrate the importance of natural context, including the very different timelines of various species and the remarkable variation in spatial patterns of biotic distribution and behavior. …

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