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A Primer of Ecological Statistics

Second Edition

Nicholas J. Gotelli and Aaron M. Ellison

Publication Date - November 2012

ISBN: 9781605350646

640 pages
7 x 9 inches

In Stock

Explains fundamental material in probability theory, experimental design, and parameter estimation for ecologists and environmental scientists


A Primer of Ecological Statistics, Second Edition, explains fundamental material in probability theory, experimental design, and parameter estimation for ecologists and environmental scientists. The book emphasizes a general introduction to probability theory and provides a detailed discussion of specific designs and analyses that are typically encountered in ecology and environmental science. Appropriate for use as either a stand-alone or supplementary text for upper-division undergraduate or graduate courses in ecological and environmental statistics, ecology, environmental science, environmental studies, or experimental design, the Primer also serves as a resource for environmental professionals who need to use and interpret statistics daily but have little or no formal training in the subject.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I discusses the fundamentals of probability and statistical thinking. It introduces the logic and language of probability (Chapter 1), explains common statistical distributions used in ecology (Chapter 2) and important measures of central tendency and spread (Chapter 3), explains P-values, hypothesis testing, and statistical errors (Chapter 4), and introduces frequentist, Bayesian, and Monte Carlo methods of analysis (Chapter 5).

Part II discusses how to successfully design and execute field experiments and sampling studies. Topics include design strategies (Chapter 6), a "bestiary" of experimental designs (Chapter 7), and transformations and data management (Chapter 8).

Part III discusses specific analyses, and covers the material that is the main core of most statistics texts. Topics include regression (Chapter 9), analysis of variance (Chapter 10), categorical data analysis (Chapter 11), and multivariate analysis (Chapter 12).

Part IV--new to this edition--discusses two central topics in estimating important ecological metrics. Topics include quantification of biological diversity (Chapter 13) and estimating occupancy, detection probability, and population sizes from marked and unmarked populations (Chapter 14).

The book includes a comprehensive glossary, a mathematical appendix on matrix algebra, and extensively annotated tables and figures. Footnotes introduce advanced and ancillary material: some are purely historical, others cover mathematical/statistical proofs or details, and still others address current topics in the ecological literature.

For Students

Data files and code used for some of the examples are available on the companion website.

For Instructors

Instructor's Resource Library
This resource includes all figures (line-art illustrations and photographs) and tables from the textbook, provided as both high- and low-resolution JPEGs. All have been formatted and optimized for excellent projection quality. Also included are ready-to-use PowerPoint slides of all figures and tables.

About the Author(s)

Nicholas J. Gotelli is Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Vermont. He graduated with a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980, and earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University in 1985. He is also the author of A Primer of Ecology, Fourth Edition (2008), Null Models in Ecology (with Gary R. Graves; 1996), A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (with Aaron M. Ellison, Elizabeth J. Farnsworth, and Gary D. Alpert; 2012), and EcoSim, an ecological software package. His research interests include: the evolutionary ecology of carnivorous plants, heat shock proteins and the responses of ant assemblages to climate change, environmental proteomics, biogeography, and statistical ecology. Dr. Gotelli currently serves on the editorial boards of Ecology, The Journal of Biogeography, Scientific Reports, and Myrmecological News.

Aaron M. Ellison is Senior Research Fellow in Ecology at the Harvard Forest, and Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received a B.A. in 1982 from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Brown University in 1986. Dr. Ellison received the National Science Foundation's Presidential Faculty Fellow award in 1992 for "demonstrated excellence and continued promise both in scientific and engineering research and in teaching future generations of students to extend and apply human knowledge." He is also the author of A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (with Nicholas J. Gotelli, Elizabeth J. Farnsworth, and Gary D. Alpert; 2012). His research foci include: food web dynamics, community ecology of wetlands and forests, evolutionary ecology of carnivorous plants, and the application of Bayesian inference to ecological research and environmental decision-making. Dr. Ellison is the Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Monographs.

Previous Publication Date(s)

May 2004


"Things that set this volume apart from the ordinary include short discussions of more advanced methods at the end of most chapters, a full chapter on data management, two chapters on study design, and wonderful footnotes with historical notes and short biographies."--Philip Dixon, The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Many ecology-related degrees require only a single statistics course, leaving a wide gap between students' knowledge and what they need to know. Gotelli and Ellison's book--written by ecologists with extensive experience teaching graduate and undergraduate statistics courses--helps fill this gap. I have found this book, aided by the very easy writing style of the authors, is equally well received by graduate and undergraduate students as a textbook in courses on ecological analyses, particularly when used as a bridge to more advanced books on specific topics. The book uses ecological data throughout, much of it collected by the authors, and all data are available on the book's web site, making it easy to use those data in labs."--Michael Gillingham, The American Statistician

Table of Contents

    PART I. Fundamentals of Probability and Statistical Thinking

    1. An Introduction to Probability
    2. Random Variables and Probability Distributions
    3. Summary Statistics: Measures of Location and Spread
    4. Framing and Testing Hypotheses
    5. Three Frameworks for Statistical Analysis

    PART II. Designing Experiments

    6. Designing Successful Field Studies
    7. A Bestiary of Experimental and Sampling Designs
    8. Managing and Curating Data

    PART III. Data Analysis

    9. Regression
    10. The Analysis of Variance
    11. The Analysis of Categorical Data
    12. The Analysis of Multivariate Data

    PART IV. Estimation

    13. The Measurement of Biodiversity
    14. Detecting Populations and Estimating their Size

    Appendix: Matrix Algebra for Ecologists

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