School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UL, Scotland
THE ECOLOGICAL QUESTION
What is the nature of the impact of a brood parasite on its host and how much effect do brood parasites have?
Parasitism, mutualism, shifting nature of interactions
WHAT STUDENTS DO
This class was designed for an introductory ecology course. Students are introduced to Microsoft Excel PivotTables by amending an existing PivotTable, then create their own PivotTables to explore the main data sets. These data sets provide information on the breeding success of carrion crows parasitised by great spotted cuckoos in Spain. Students summarise the large data sets, produce bar charts, calculate standard errors and add error bars to their plots. As they work through the exercises, students are asked to summarise the results they have obtained and to think about what this means ecologically. Finally, they use the whole set of results to understand the nature of the interaction between cuckoos and crows in this area.
- Application of existing knowledge on parasitism and mutualisms
- Analysis of data using Excel PivotTables
- Interpretation of data to evaluate the nature of species interactions
- Generation of a set of PivotTables and bar graphs to summarise two large data sets
- Answers to a set of questions to demonstrate understanding of the interaction between great spotted cuckoos and crows in Spain
- After the data analysis is complete, students can be directed to the paper (Canestrari et al. 2014) and asked more detailed questions based on the findings
Data from Canestrari et al. 2014. From parasitism to mutualism: unexpected interactions between a cuckoo and its host. Science, 343: 1350-1352.
Supplementary materials available from: www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6177/1350/suppl/DC1
Data available from: DRYAD (DOI:10.5061/dryad.j81r0)
Description of Resource Files:
I am grateful to Daniela Canestrari for kindly granting permission to use this data set and to Vittorio Baglione for providing the photo. The students in BI2020 Ecology in 2018 and 2019 generously engaged in this exercise and provided helpful feedback as I fine-tuned the activity. The teaching assistants who helped these classes run have also been invaluable. Two anonymous referees and Kathy Winnett-Murray provided helpful comments on the manuscript.
Clare Trinder. April 2019, posting date. Quantifying the impact of a brood parasite on crows. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 15: Practice #2 [online]. https://tiee.esa.org/vol/v15/issues/data_sets/trinder/abstract.html