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Monday, October 24, 2011


Although many AP Environmental Science classes across the country do some version of a lab investigation on stream organisms, they tend to be overly simplistic in terms of  the questions asked and the type of analyses required.  We have developed an investigation that retains a simple sampling protocol and data gathering phase, but which tests hypotheses that are relevant in terms of current thinking on community ecology.  Hence, it goes beyond simply examining what kinds of organisms are present by examining community parameters such as species richness, species evenness and species diversity.  It also considers the importance of sampling design to hypothesis testing and introduces statistical concepts like variance, standard deviation and coefficient of variation.  The investigation compares the aquatic macrofaunal communities of two streams of distinctly different water quality and requires the use of spreadsheets to analyze the data.  It uses data from previous investigations of water chemistry, and requires that macrofaunal community data be analyzed in light of the physical and chemical nature of the streams.  The lab may be downloaded from

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This winter-plumaged American Goldfinch was one of the species examined in the first paper published through the newly updated Bird Conservation Research, Inc. Contributions series.

Open access publications on the internet are available to all readers at no cost. No journal subscription is required and access is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Although subscriber-only print journals have long dominated the field of science, the practical needs of researchers have already resulted in freely available internet sources of information surpassing traditional outlets in actual viewership. The free publications of Bird Conservation Research, Inc., for example, have a much larger annual viewership than many subscriber-based journals.

In the emerging field of online science journals, the frequent subscription requirement and extremely high author’s publication costs have continued to limit viewership and the variety of papers offered. These factors further drive researchers to seek new internet sources for information.

Bias has also emerged as an issue in scientific publication. Scholars have demonstrated that researchers from less prestigious institutions who do not have “celebrity” co-authors, as well as women researchers, can be at a significant disadvantage in having papers accepted by traditional outlets.

To address shortcomings like these in scientific publication, BCR has revised its Contributions series to make it not only open-access, but also available for author submissions in an unbiased and low cost environment. BCR uses a double blind peer review process that makes authors and their institutions invisible to reviewers. See author instructions.