Organizational Analysis Design Plan

BIO 315 Final Project Guidelines and Rubric
Overview
The final project for this course is a paper that will use information regarding vegetation and bird communities to inform a conservation organization as to which
of four sites to target for acquisition and preservation. That is, you will evaluate these four properties according to pre-established criteria that reflect the
biodiversity found at each site. This is the sort of work that conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy or other land trusts regularly pursue—if we have
finite financial resources, how do we judge which area is most important to protect? This project will prepare you to do the kind of work that is often expected of
a professional in the field of environmental science: collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing field data; interpreting and communicating the results; and relating
your findings to the extant scientific literature. It will also prepare you for subsequent courses in Southern New Hampshire University’s Environmental Science
degree program, including Environmental Science Research Methods.
The project is supported by three milestones, which will be submitted at various points throughout the course to scaffold learning and ensure quality final
submissions. These milestones will be submitted in Modules Two, Four, and Six. The instructor will provide input and possible revisions to each of these three
milestones when they are submitted; these edits should be included in the final submission, which will be submitted in Module Seven.
In this assignment, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following course outcomes:
 Demonstrate the ability to apply scientific methods to solving problems and using the proper methods of observation and recording of scientific data
 Describe ecological relationships at the level of the organism, population, community, andecosystem
 Integrate their knowledge and understanding of how their environment works, especially in regard to understanding the role of humans in a biological
context
Prompt
You are working for an international bird conservation organization that is considering purchase of one of four parcels of land in the Central American country of
Belize. You will use field data concerning bird species occurrence and abundance, as well as descriptions of plant communities found at each site to make a
recommendation to the organization as to which of these land parcels to acquire. Field data will be provided for each of the four parcels at two different scales:
1. Local, meaning the specific parcels being considered for purchase. Each specific parcel being considered is defined by a particular land parcel boundary.
2. Regional, meaning the broader area surrounding each specific parcel being considered for acquisition (15-mile-diameter circles centered at Belmopan
(17.146 °N, 88.729 °W), Cockscomb Basin (16.797 °N, 88.379 °W), Gallon Jug (17.561 °N, 89.044 °W), and Punta Gorda (16.165 °N, 88.883 °W)
Since all students in this class may not be able to physically engage in actual field research for a variety of reasons, in this project you will be given field data and
GIS-analyzed remote sensing information that is similar to what might actually be collected during weeks of real field work and subsequent analysis. Methods
used to obtain this data will be briefly described in this document; your final paper should describe these methods and present results as though you hadactually been responsible for collecting and analyzing the data. Your final project should follow the format of a standard scientific paper (Introduction, Methods,
Results, Discussion, Literature Cited).
Because of the priorities of the organization you are working for, your analysis will emphasize birds, but it should also include reference to major vegetation
communities that may reasonably be expected to influence bird distribution and abundance. The primary information you will be given to work with includes:
1. Species diversity indices based on single-day bird surveys conducted by teams of observers within 15-mile-diameter circles that include the four sites
being considered for conservationpurchase
2. Graphical analyses summarizing the major vegetation communities present within each of the 15-mile-diameter circles
3. Graphical analyses summarizing the major vegetation communities present within each of the actual parcels being considered for acquisition
4. Bird survey data collected using the rapid assessment MacKinnon approach (see O’Dea et al. 2004) from each of the specific parcels being considered for
acquisition. In other words, your data sets will reflect information collected at two different scales—one regional (the 15-mile diameter circles) and one
local (the specific parcels).
Critical Elements
 Include an Introduction section.
 Include a Methods section based on information provided in diversity_indices.pdf and veg_analyses.pdf.
 Create species detection line graphs for each study region based on MacKinnon data from bird_data.xls.
 Incorporate results provided in diversity_indices.pdf, veg_analyses.pdf, and the graph produced in Milestone Two into a brief (three-page
maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) Results section.
 Prepare a brief Discussion section that reviews the findings mentioned in Results and explains your recommendation as to which property would be
best to acquire for conservation purposes.
 Prepare a Literature Cited section that includes all references that you have mentioned in your Introduction, Methods, and Discussion sections
following the style requirements of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Background and Descriptions of Data Sets
This following provides information and instructions to support you in completing each milestone and element of the final project.
1. Maps: The following map will help you visualize the project areas:
Map showing approximate elevations of Belize, locations of major rivers, study region boundaries (15-mile-diameter circles), and local parcels being
considered for conservation acquisition (solid black polygons)
2. Diversity Indices: Ecologists have devised many different indices that are used to quantitatively measure levels of biodiversity. It is important to recognize
that none of these indices, by themselves, tell the “full story.” For instance, at one level it would be completely accurate to measure biodiversity simply
by counting up the number of species (or genera or families) present at a particular study site; a site where S (the number of taxa) = 150 is more diversethan a site where S = 20. But this is only one way we might describe diversity. How might we compare diversity in a way that considers not only the
number of species, but also the relative abundances of the different species? For example, a community composed of 50 species, each of which is equal
in abundance, would be a very different community from one in which those same 50 species occurred but where one of those species was 5,000 times
more abundant than each of the other 49 species.
Following are some of the more common diversity indices that you will find mentioned in the ecological literature. Remember that none of them are
“perfect”; instead, each provides a slightly different perspective on the same basic question. Probably the most common indices are:
A. Simple counting of the total number of taxa present (S)
B. Dominance (D), with values that range from 0 (all taxa are equally present) to 1 (one taxon dominates the community completely).
Dominance
(D) is directly related to Simpson’s index, which = 1-D).
C. The Shannon index (H), with values ranging from 0 (communities with only a single taxon) to high numbers (communities with many taxa,
each with a few individuals)
D. Equitability (J): This measures the evenness with which individuals are divided among the taxa present.
3. Analysis: The equations used to calculate these varied diversity indices are typically fairly simple and can be created easily within Excel spreadsheets,
found online as add-on macros within Excel (e.g., Diversity.xla), or calculated via free statistical software such as PAST or R (The R Project for Statistical
Computing). These links are provided as optional resources for you to explore and learn more about the indices; they are not required for this project.
Instead, to save you some time, for this exercise the four indices mentioned in the Diversity Indices section above have been calculated for you, using
PAST; these results are provided in the document diversity_indices.pdf. Similarly, GIS was used to estimate the extent of major vegetation communities
present within each of the actual parcels being considered for acquisition, and within the 15-mile-diameter regional circles; these results are provided in
the documentveg_analyses.pdf.
4. Data Sets: In this assignment, you are provided with four data sets that reflect the types of information you might collect if you were actually doing field
work aimed at assessing bird diversity at four different sites. These data sets are based on real data collected by real people in real field settings, but in
each case, the actual information has been modified for the sake of this learningexperience.
Data set contained in the Excel workbook bird_data.xls. Separate worksheets named as Belmopan – 15 mi circle, Belmopan – MacKinnon, Gallon Jug – 15
mi circle, Gallon Jug – MacKinnon, Cockscomb Basin – 15 mi circle, Cockscomb Basin – MacKinnon, Punta Gorda – 15 mi circle, Punta Gorda – MacKinnon,
and Graph. See O’Dea et al. (pp. 55–56) for a description of how MacKinnon list data is collected. Basically, the idea is simple—you explore an area of
interest and record the first 10 (or however many you decide; in this example the number is 10) species that you encounter. Then you do the same thing
again, recording observations until you reach a total of 10 species. Then you do it again, and again, and again—in this example, on 15 different surveys.
Eventually you are able to produce a data set that shows the number of new (never-before-encountered during your survey efforts) species for each of
the 15 survey dates and use this to produce a table showing the cumulative number of species detected by date. For this exercise, you are provided with
MacKinnon data collected on 15 dates within each of the parcels being considered for conservation purchase. See MacKinnon_data_instructions.pdf foran explanation of how to calculate and fill in the data required in the worksheet Graphs.
Milestones
As noted above, you will complete three milestones during the course. The work you produce for the milestones will serve as first drafts of the critical elements
of your final project. Following are descriptions of the three milestones, including the critical elements associated with each milestone. The critical elements will
serve as the basis for the rubric that will be used to assess your final project.
Milestone One: Data Exploration and Preparation for Analysis
In this milestone, due as part of Module Two, you will submit drafts of two critical elements of your final project:
1. A brief (two-page maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) Introduction
2. A brief (two-page maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) Methods section based on information provided in diversity_indices.pdf and MacKinnon data
in bird_data.xls and veg_analyses.pdf
In order to complete those critical elements, you will need to first:
 Familiarize yourself with the data provided in the Excel workbooks bird_data.xls and the documents diversity indices.pdf and veg_analyses.pdf
 Read and understand O’Dea et al. (2004), especially pages55–56
This milestone will be graded using the Milestone One Rubric.
Milestone Two: Quantitative and Graphical Analysis
In this milestone, due as part of Module Four, you will submit a draft of one critical element of your final project: Create species detection line graphs for each
study region based on MacKinnon data from bird_data.xls. See the instructions in MacKinnon_data_instructions.pdf.
This milestone will be graded using the Milestone Two Rubric.
Milestone Three: Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited Sections
In this milestone, due as part of Module Six, you will submit drafts of three critical elements of your final project:
1. Incorporate results provided in diversity_indices.pdf, veg_analyses.pdf, and the graph produced in Milestone Two into a brief (three-page maximum,
double-spaced, 12-point font) Results section.
2. Prepare a brief (two-page maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) Discussion section that reviews the findings mentioned in Results and explains your
recommendation as to which property would be best to acquire for conservation purposes.
3. Prepare a Literature Cited (References) section that includes all references that you have mentioned in your Introduction, Methods, and Discussion
sections following the style requirements of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.This milestone will be graded using the Milestone Three Rubric.
Final Project Submission: Final Report
Due as part of Module Seven, your final project consists of combining the elements produced for Milestones One, Two, and Three (with any revisions suggested
after submission of those milestones) into a final document. This combination of sections will probably involve some final editing, clean-up, and cross-checking.
The final project will be graded using the Final Project Rubric (below).
Deliverables
Milestone Deliverables Module Due Grading
One Data Exploration and Preparation
for Analysis
Two Graded separately; Milestone One Rubric
Two Quantitative and Graphical
Analysis
Four Graded separately; Milestone Two Rubric
Three Results, Discussion, and Literature
Cited Sections
Six Graded separately; Milestone Three Rubric
Final Submission: Final Paper Seven Graded separately; Final Project Rubric
Final Project Rubric
Guidelines for Submission: Written components of this project will follow the professionally appropriate formatting referred to in Milestone Three (Module Six).
The final report (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited) should total 10–15 pages in length (including figures, tables, and Literature
Cited).
Critical Elements Exemplary (100%) Proficient (85%) Needs Improvement (55%) Not Evident (0%) Value
Introduction Meets all of the “Proficient”
criteria and is concise
Includes a descriptive title and
clear description of the
question being addressed
Lacks a descriptive title and/or
description of the question
being addressed is present but
awkwardly phrased
No description of the question
being addressed
10Methods Section Meets all of the “Proficient”
criteria; no need for additional
editing
Clear, complete, and accurate
descriptions are provided of
locations, methods of data
collection, and basic analysis
techniques (including
software). Wording appropriate
for technical writing (past
tense, not wordy), could use
some additional editing to
improve clarity
Some or all descriptions of
locations, methods of data
collection, and/or basic analysis
techniques (including software)
are unclear, incomplete, or
inaccurate
No descriptions of the location
and methods used to collect
the data and/or identification
of the software used to analyze
the data are provided
15
Species Detection
Line Graphs
All 4 of the line graphs (all
locations) are accurate
2-3 of the line graphs are
accurate
Only 1 of the line graphs is
accurate
No line graphs are provided 15
Results Section Meets all of the “Proficient”
criteria. Conforms to Frontiers
in Ecology guidelines. Does not
slide into discussion or
interpretation
Results section includes all of
the major elements (species
detection line graphs, mention
of diversity indices, mention of
vegetation/land use
characteristics), and
presentation of these elements
is clear and logical. Mostly
conforms to Frontiers in
Ecology guidelines
Results section omits some of
the major elements (species
detection line graphs, mention
of diversity indices, mention of
vegetation/land use
characteristics), and/or logical
presentation of these elements
needs improvement (or
includes evaluations and/or
recommendations)
Results section missing all of
the major elements (species
detection line graphs, mention
of diversity indices, mention of
vegetation/land use
characteristics)
20
Discussion Section Meets all of the “Proficient”
criteria and suggests logical
areas for additional
investigation or research that
would better inform the
rankings and recommendations
Criteria used to evaluate the
parcels, the evaluations
themselves, and associated
recommendations are logical
and well-supported by the
results. Demonstrates ability to
synthesize information from
different sources
Criteria to evaluate the parcels,
the evaluations themselves,
and/or associated
recommendations are
incomplete or not wellsupported by the results
Discussion section not provided 20
Literature Cited
(References)
More than two scholarly
articles that are clearly related
to the research project are
referenced, and all references
and citations conform to
Frontiers in Ecology guidelines
The paper references at least
two scholarly articles that are
clearly related to the research
project. Most references and
citations conform to Frontiers
in Ecology guidelines
Fewer than two scholarly
articles that are clearly related
to the research project are
referenced and/or few
references and citations
conform to Frontiers in Ecology
guidelines
No relevant scholarly articles
are referenced
10
Writing (Mechanics/
Citations)
No errors related to
organization, grammar and
style, and citations
Minor errors related to
organization, grammar and
style, and citations
Some errors related to
organization, grammar and
style, and citations
Major errors related to
organization, grammar and
style, and citations
10Total 100%

WE ACCEPT