The Scientific Method
Published 02 Oct 2017
When conclusions are induced from observing natural ecological processes, it is possible that the wrong conclusions are made, such as the once-believed notion that frogs originate from mud. When controlled experimentation occurs, results appear that are different from a control experiment. It is therefore possible to see the difference between what normally takes place ecologically and what results from adding a factor. It is more conclusive and scientifically responsible to experiment, rather than observe (Carter 2004).
One exotic species that has plagued the Northeast and Southern states is Japanese Barberry, Berberis thunbergii DC. Its negative impact on its environment is choking out resources to other native plants, by taking soil moisture, nutrients, and sunlight for itself and outcompeting other nearby plants. It is also a problem due to its lack of natural animal predators – not many birds or other animals eat it. Its impact could have been lessened by very strict regulation of its introduction and establishment, but once it had begun to proliferate, action to eradicate the plant is necessary. Selective burning has been implemented in some states already (USDA).
The scientific method can be applied to ecological problems by recreating situations in the laboratory. If it is known that birds live in an area with high air pollution, birds can be tested for blood levels of the chemicals in the air, and therefore it is discovered how air pollution affects birds in that area. In scientific testing, replication of the experiment is necessary many times; quantitative data is necessary; and conclusions must only be deduced after exhausting all possibilities. The scientific method has been used for many centuries of scientific exploration, and it is necessary for the experimentation of modern ecological issues. There are plenty of humans and animals that live among the testable “conditions” who can participate in studies. Also, current ecological situations can be recreated in labs, in order to carefully control probable factors and therefore discover results without harming either humans or animals (Carter 2004).
- “The Scientific Method.” J. Stein Carter. November 2004. 6 June 2009.
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plants Database. “Plants Profile: Japanese Barberry.”http://www.plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=beth. 6 June 2009.