Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

# Statistics for Wildlifers: How much and what kind?

### Douglas H. Johnson, Terry L. Shaffer, and Wesley E. Newton

*Abstract:* Quantitative methods are playing increasingly important
roles in wildlife ecology and, ultimately, management. This change poses a challenge
for wildlife practitioners and students who are not well-educated in mathematics
and statistics. Here we give our opinions on what wildlife biologists should
know about statistics, while recognizing that not everyone is inclined mathematically.
For those who are, we recommend that they take mathematics coursework at least
through calculus and linear algebra. They should take statistics courses that
are focused conceptually , stressing the "Why" rather than the "How" of doing
statistics. For less mathematically oriented wildlifers, introductory classes
in statistical techniques will furnish some useful background in basic methods
but may provide little appreciation of when the methods are appropriate. These
wildlifers will have to rely much more on advice from statisticians. Far more
important than knowing how to analyze data is an understanding of how to obtain
and recognize good data. Regardless of the statistical education they receive,
all wildlife biologists should appreciate the importance of controls, replication,
and randomization in studies they conduct. Understanding these concepts requires
little mathematical sophistication, but is critical to advancing the science
of wildlife ecology.
*Key Words:* education, mathematics, statistics, wildlife biology

**This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication
1150):**
Johnson, Douglas H., Terry L. Shaffer, and Wesley E. Newton. 2001. Statistics
for wildlifers: how much and what kind? Wildlife Society Bulletin
29(4):1055-1060.

**This resource should be cited as:**

Johnson, Douglas H., Terry L. Shaffer, and Wesley E. Newton. 2001. Statistics
for wildlifers: how much and what kind? Wildlife Society Bulletin
29(4):1055-1060. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/methods/wlstats/index.htm
(Version 02APR2002).

### Table of Contents

### Figures and Tables

- Figure 1 -- "Fitness" of a research wildlife
biologist as related to statistical knowledge.

**Douglas H. Johnson**, **Terry L. Shaffer**, and **Wesley E. Newton**,
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 37th Street Southeast, Jamestown,
ND 58401, USA.

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