Tag Archives: island

My, What Long Data You Have!

Isle Royale, looking lovely. Photo by the National Parks Service via Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons info.

Isle Royale, looking lovely. Photo by the National Park Service via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

One of the challenges of ecology is that its data take time to exist. If you want to study the offspring of some yeast cells you poked somehow, just take a long lunch break and they’ll be waiting for you in about 80 minutes. Go away for a full day and you’ll come back to the 18th generation of baby yeast cells. (That’s not to say yeast studies are easy, their time investments just come in different forms.) If you want to look over the same number of generations of a larger, longer-lived mammal, you need a longer data history.

So imagine if you had 55 years of data about wolves and moose on a small island. And now imagine if the wolf population was in trouble–small and inbred. Would you sit by and let the wolves die out, or would you try to throw them a life vest? And in either case, how does the value of your data change?

Those are some of the questions being asked on Isle Royale, a small island 15 miles into Lake Superior. But they’re also being asked of you.

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