How to be a Quantitative Ecologist: The 'A to R' of Green Mathematics and Statistics

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Ecological research is becoming increasingly quantitative, yet students often opt out of courses in mathematics and statistics, unwittingly limiting their ability to carry out research in the future. This textbook provides a practical introduction to quantitative ecology for students and practitioners who have realised that they need this opportunity.

The text is addressed to readers who haven't used mathematics since school, who were perhaps more confused than enlightened by their undergraduate lectures in statistics and who have never used a computer for much more than word processing and data entry. From this starting point, it slowly but surely instils an understanding of mathematics, statistics and programming, sufficient for initiating research in ecology. The book’s practical value is enhanced by extensive use of biological examples and the computer language R for graphics, programming and data analysis.

Key Features:

  • Provides a complete introduction to mathematics statistics and computing for ecologists.
  • Presents a wealth of ecological examples demonstrating the applied relevance of abstract mathematical concepts, showing how a little technique can go a long way in answering interesting ecological questions.
  • Covers elementary topics, including the rules of algebra, logarithms, geometry, calculus, descriptive statistics, probability, hypothesis testing and linear regression.
  • Explores more advanced topics including fractals, non-linear dynamical systems, likelihood and Bayesian estimation, generalised linear, mixed and additive models, and multivariate statistics.
  • R boxes provide step-by-step recipes for implementing the graphical and numerical techniques outlined in each section.

How to be a Quantitative Ecologist provides a comprehensive introduction to mathematics, statistics and computing and is the ideal textbook for late undergraduate and postgraduate courses in environmental biology.

"With a book like this, there is no excuse for people to be afraid of maths, and to be ignorant of what it can do."
Professor Tim Benton, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, UK

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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Apr 12, 2011
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9781119991724
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Probability & Statistics / General
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Nate Silver
One of Wall Street Journal's Best Ten Works of Nonfiction in 2012
 
New York Times Bestseller

“Not so different in spirit from the way public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith once shaped discussions of economic policy and public figures like Walter Cronkite helped sway opinion on the Vietnam War…could turn out to be one of the more momentous books of the decade.”
—New York Times Book Review
 
"Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century."
—Rachel Maddow, author of Drift

"A serious treatise about the craft of prediction—without academic mathematics—cheerily aimed at lay readers. Silver's coverage is polymathic, ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism."
—New York Review of Books

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation's foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.com.
 
Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.

Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.

With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Charles Wheelan
“Brilliant, funny . . . the best math teacher you never had.”—San Francisco Chronicle Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’ll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.

For those who slept through Stats 101, this book is a lifesaver. Wheelan strips away the arcane and technical details and focuses on the underlying intuition that drives statistical analysis. He clarifies key concepts such as inference, correlation, and regression analysis, reveals how biased or careless parties can manipulate or misrepresent data, and shows us how brilliant and creative researchers are exploiting the valuable data from natural experiments to tackle thorny questions.

And in Wheelan’s trademark style, there’s not a dull page in sight. You’ll encounter clever Schlitz Beer marketers leveraging basic probability, an International Sausage Festival illuminating the tenets of the central limit theorem, and a head-scratching choice from the famous game show Let’s Make a Deal—and you’ll come away with insights each time. With the wit, accessibility, and sheer fun that turned Naked Economics into a bestseller, Wheelan defies the odds yet again by bringing another essential, formerly unglamorous discipline to life.

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