Thursday, August 29, 2013
Lack of quantitative training among early-career ecologists
Barraquand et al. (2013) Lack of quantitative training among early-career ecologists: a survey of the problem and potential solutions. PeerJ PrePrints 1:e53v1 doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.53v1
Proficiency in mathematics and statistics is essential to modern ecological science, yet few studies have assessed the level of quantitative training received by ecologists. To do so, we conducted an online survey. The 937 respondents were mostly early-career scientists that studied biology as undergraduates. We found a clear self-perceived lack of quantitative training: 75% are not satisfied with their understanding of mathematical models; 75% feel the level of mathematics was “too low” in their ecology classes; 90% wanted more mathematics classes for ecologists; and 95% more statistics classes. Respondents thought that 30% of classes in ecology-related degrees should be focused on quantitative disciplines; likely more than what is taught in most universities. The main suggestion to improve quantitative training was to relate theoretical and statistical modeling to applied ecological problems. Improving quantitative training will require more mathematics classes for ecology-related degrees, and also more ecology classes containing mathematical and statistical examples.