ECOL203 Assignment 1: Life Table Analysis for a Small Wallaby
Instructions: Submit a pdf file for the assignment that includes your written response to the questions listed below, with graphs inserted as you see fit (from the spreadsheet you completed). Answer each of the following questions. The total length of the assignment should be no more than 1200 words. You can submit your spreadsheet as an additional *.xlsx file if you want (non-mandatory).
In order to undertake this assignment, you need to follow the instructions given in the section ‘Assignment 1 Resources‘
Answer each of the following questions for this assignment:
Question 1. How do the graphs you made compare to White’s data? In broad terms, was your sample a reasonable representation of the black-striped wallaby population? Why/why not?
Question 2. Given your life table predictions of the ‘expectation of further life’, how would you respond if someone asked the question: “To what age should I expect a black-striped wallaby to live at the Brigalow Research Station?”
Question 3. In reference to hypothetical survivorship curves (Types I – III; see pages 221-222 in Attiwill and Wilson), what survivorship type do black-striped wallabies most closely resemble? Does this fit the typical (theoretical) curve for mammals? Why/why not?
Question 4. What age classes – if any – do you feel are under-represented in your sample? What ecological factor(s) might explain this?
Assignment 1 Resources
Assignment 1 Resources, Instructions, and Suggested Timeline
To successfully tackle Assignment 1, you need to do a little bit of background work. The assignment requires that you understand how to age wallaby skulls using a technique called ‘molar progression’, and then enter the data in excel and use that program to write formulae and graph data. You then need to interpret the data to write-up the assignment.
Because this is a slightly complicated assignment in terms of the background knolwedge you need to gain, and the data you need to colect and enter, you really need to hit the ground running – start exploring the assignment in the first few weeks of semester, so that you give yourself plenty of time to collect and analyse the data, and write up the assignment.
To complete the assignment in a timely fashion, I suggest you do the following (in order) according to the timeline indicated:
1. Read the Assignment 1 Instructions, and understand the concept of aging macropods (kangaroos and wallabies) from their skulls – do this by Week 2, so you know what you are up against. Also, read Chapter 13 of Attiwill and Wilson (2006), particularly the section on life tables on page 220 – 223 in Week 1.
2. Do the Pre-Assignment 1 Practical: Aging of Kangaroos and Wallabies Using Molar Progression (Skull Aging Tutorial) as an online practical, and when you are happy that you know how to age skulls, Take the Skull Quiz! (a challenge; not assessable). Do this in Week 3.
3. If you don’t know how to use Microsoft Excel, I suggest you take a look at some online tutorials, and get to know the program a bit – do this by the end of Week 3
4. Then, collect data for the Assignment from the Box of Skulls (online) – this is the main practical component of the assignment, where you will measure skulls and record the data. Have this done by the early part of Week 4. If you want the box of skulls on your own computer to work with offline, you can download Box of Skulls as a ZIP
5. Enter the data in the pre-formatted lifetable spreadsheet and undertake the life table analyses, as outlined in the Instructions. Do this by the end of Week 5
6. Write the Answers to the questions posed in the Assignment 1 Instructions, and submit the assignment.
Finally, if you are unsure about what to do, take a look at the online tutorial in the ECOL203 Lecture Podcasts (NOTE!! This tutorial is from a previous year – ignore any reference to other assignments, or due dates in this video!)