Data Analysis for Conservation Biologists - DI508

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5)


Not available as wild.





This course is designed to introduce and re-affirm statistical concepts, and their correct use and relevance to field biologists. Introductory topics will include measures of central tendency, frequency distributions, the normal distribution, standard errors, and how sample parameters, and null hypotheses apply in real biological situations. Further topics will include one- and two-tailed tests, chi-squared test, regression analysis, and analysis of variance. The role of probability in field biology will be considered, and its application to biological questions. Throughout this taught course, emphasis will be placed on practical application of statistics as much as possible, and when and how they are applied. Since there is both a theoretical and practical component to this course, students should aim to link the theory presented in lectures with the practical sessions and field trip parts of the course. The field trips will be towards the end of the course, by which time students will have been exposed to sufficient statistical methods, and be ready to apply it. By the end of the module, students should have a knowledge of the underlying principles of biological statistics, be able to evaluate from a theoretical stand-point and in practise, statistical results, and have a sound appreciation of the benefits and limitations of different statistical techniques and their application to field biology.

The role of this module has been to provide students with the statistical knowledge to conduct their data analysis for their research project, and to reinforce the appreciation and knowledge of statistical methods within a biological framework. It is often the case that students in the second and third years of their degree are able to execute statistical analysis via computer programmes, but lack an appreciation of what the statistical results actually mean, and the ability to correctly interpret them in the context of their research. This module is designed to address these issues through a combination of lectures on statistical topics within a biological framework, and practical tasks and exercises.


This module appears in:

Contact hours



BSc Wildlife Conservation,
BA Environmental Social Sciences
BSc Human Ecology

Method of assessment

100% Coursework
Assignment 1 Correlations (40%)
Assignment 2 ANOVA (40%)
Module Test (20%).

Indicative reading

Fowler, J., Cohen, L. & Jarvis, P. (1998). Practical Statistics for Field Biology. John Wiley & Sons. Chichester, UK.

Ruxton, G. D. & Colegrave, N. (2003). Experimental Design for the Life Sciences. Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

8.1 discuss the theoretical Normal Distribution, and its application to data analysis.
8.2 discuss null Hypotheses, Type I and II Errors, Sample Strategies, and Independence
8.3 discuss One- and Two-Tailed Tests.
8.4 discuss analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and Chi-Squared.
8.5 discuss Bivariate Data, Regression Analysis and Correlation Coefficients

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