Good and Not-So-Good Examples: Life Sciences

Research Problem

Western Chorus Frogs as a Determinant of Ecosystem Disruption after Selective Logging
(fictional paper abstract: GOOD abstract)

Clearcutting has drawn criticism from ecologists because it permanently alters that ecosystem.  Selective logging has been suggested as a method to reduce the effect of timber harvesting on ecosystems. We learned that the Elmwood Forest of southern Indiana was going to undergo selective logging in 2005, and we wanted to gauge the level of ecological disturbance that occurred. Since amphibians are often considered ‘indicator species,’ as they are often the first species affected by ecological changes, we used a calling survey to measure the number and distribution of adult Western Chorus Frogs before and after the logging took place.  The calling surveys showed a 40% decline in frog populations after selective logging. Thus, even with less invasive methods of logging, the ecosystem can be highly affected in unsuspected ways and must be taken into consideration.

Western Chorus Frogs as a Determinant of Ecosystem Disruption after Selective Logging
(fictional paper abstract: NOT-SO-GOOD abstract)

Our research project measured the number of Western Chorus Frogs before and after selective logging took place in the Elmwood Forest of Southern Indiana. Adults were counted using calling surveys. Calling surveys were conducted over a two week period by myself and 3 other students. Before the selective logging, adult frogs were all around lakes, marshes, rivers, and ponds in the forest. Counting adult frogs can also predict the number of eggs that will be produced. After the selective logging, adult numbers dropped by an average of 40%. Eastern parts of the forests saw the frog population drop by as much as 55%, although southern parts of the forest saw more like a 30% decrease.

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