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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


This graph illustrates the seasonal change in habitat occupancy by southern New England's Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Populations shift subtly but significantly from closed canopy forest (cover values approaching 3) in summer to open canopy forests in winter (see Contribution 17 of the Contributions series for details).

Bird Conservation Contributions is now available for use by the scientific community.  It is a new web site  created by publicly supported, non-profit Bird Conservation Research, Inc. that is devoted solely to showcasing scientific publications.   It features a page that links to each work published exclusively by BCR, and it also has a separate page linking to BCR papers published by other outlets. 

Original scientific contributions to the Contributions series are invited.  Instructions to authors are available on the Submissions page.  The Contributions series offers a low cost and unbiased publishing alternative to traditional print outlets.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


A newly updated, expanded and re-written PowerPoint presentation available from Bird Conservation Research, Inc. highlights accomplishments of the eight-year long Forest Bird Survey of Southern New England- the largest field study on birds in the history of New England wildlife conservation.  It details  initial findings and charts future plans for the data. Earlier versions of this PowerPoint have been used by regional conservation groups as a tool in persuading conservation agencies to protect extensive parcels of forest habitat.  It can also be used as a teaching tool to demonstrate how science theory and science application (in this case, bird conservation) are interconnected and how scientists proceed from asking questions to gathering relevant data to drawing conclusions.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The detectability curve for the Brown Creeper provides a mechanism for computing population densities.
Upgrades of the AP Environmental Science lab, Variable Circular Plot, have yielded a college-level investigation into bird community relationships.  It is based on an actual study of forest bird communities and is designed to introduce students to the complexities of real scientific research.  In particular, it illustrates the following:

1. Modern environmental science research is dependent upon tools made available through advanced mathematics.
2. Large samples are essential for uncovering patterns in nature that are distinguishable from random variation.
3. Statistical considerations like sampling independence must be considered if data gathered are to be validly interpreted.
4. Data may be categorized as continuous or categorical, and doing so affects the type of analyses that can be performed.
5. Real scientific investigations often require teams of individuals to work together in order to gather sufficient data to evaluate hypotheses.
6. A first step in understanding data gathered is exploratory data analysis, which includes graphing raw data to preview them for the occurrence of patterns.
7. Developing greater insights into findings often involves using synthetic data- data derived from raw numbers; e.g.converting numbers to percents, converting counts of birds into population density estimates.
8. Completely understanding what an investigation shows is a complex task that involves examining data from multiple points of view.
9. Because hypotheses to be tested are not explicitly spelled out, students must consider what hypotheses are testable with available data and which of these hypotheses are worthy of consideration.

Friday, May 4, 2012


The lab activities tab of the Bird Conservation Research, Inc. web site has been updated, notably by the inclusion of a step-by-step primer on how to write lab reports in scientific paper format.  Attached to this is an updated lab report rubric.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


The latest PowerPoint presentation to follow the national AP Environmental Science curriculum, Land and Water Resources, is now available via the Bird Conservation Research, Inc. web site under the Educators tab.  This and all other slide shows have been prepared to be compatible with the latest versions of PowerPoint and Keynote.  All presentations have updated and expanded content as well, so educators who have been using earlier versions will want to replace them with these new versions.

At present, there are four other PowerPoints available for AP Environmental Science- Earth Systems and Resources, The Living World, Population and Environmental Pollution.  A sixth is in preparation.  In addition, there are four presentations on New England habitats, including Bogs, Beaches, Floodplains and Tidal Marshes.  The first three of these are supplimented with video productions available under the Educators tab.  A new video on tidal marshes is also in production.  Six PowerPoints are available for non-AP environmental science courses.