Data Set Studying Sea Urchins

fertilization and development in a tropical urchin: potential
for adaptation to a tropicalized eastern Australia
Citation:
Foo, S.A., Dworjanyn, S.A., Khatkar, M.S., Poore, A.G.B., and Byrne, M. (2014). Increased temperature, but not acidification, enhances fertilization and development in a tropical urchin: Potential for adaptation to a tropicalized eastern Australia. Evol. Appl. 7, 1226–1237.

A Different Way of Visualizing Data

In an interesting TedTalk with David McCandless, a journalist who works with organizing a large amount of data, describes the many different ways of showing data. He begins his TedTalk with a visualization of how money around the world is distributed. By grouping the money by country and with different colors representing gains or losses, the audience is allowed to make really easy comparisons. He describes graphs as using two “languages” at once – visualization and the other how our brain deals with concepts – and how they combine if good visualizations are used to convey tough concepts. He shows this by using a “balloon map” in which vitamins which are scientifically proven to help individuals were at the top, while the least scientifically proven vitamins were near the bottom. By putting this graph online, individuals are able to interact with the information by selecting different criteria that will show on the graph. Another interesting comparison he makes is that while it appears that the US spends the most money on military, when showing it visually using relative frequencies, the US actually doesn’t spend much on military relative to the US’ size and spending. The point he comes back to is that with a huge amount of data, we are able to conclude important information by using appropriate and good visuals.
In Hans Rosling’s Ted Talk, he has a huge amount of data of world mortality rates and does a fantastic job of showing this over time using a computer program that uses bubbles to show each country, and have the same continents in the same color. People are such visual human beings, that it is very important to make accurate representations of what the data is showing. I believe that may be the hardest thing to do – making graphs accurate, interesting, and visually pleasing. By using bubble maps, you are able to see things over time and compare things very easily at one point in time.

Ocean Acidification Mediterranean Vents Observational Study

As a student studying marine biology, it is so important to research anthropogenic events because they can change entire environments which in turn affect humans. One such even is called ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is caused by the excess amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels which in turn is absorbed into the ocean. The increase of carbon dioxide in the water causes a release of hydrogen ions which lowers the pH. The implications of lower pH means that some animals may not be able to form shells or their shells will degrade therefore taking out a trophic level.
In order to see the effects on a broader scale from species to an actual environment (it is easier to look at one species in varying pH than a whole community), some scientists came up with a creative way to observe ocean acidification in the natural environment. They observed carbon dioxide vents in the Mediterranean Sea which had varying pH values (Kroeker et al., 2011). They chose two different places for replication, one on the north side, one on the south side and then picked places with ambient pH, low pH, and extremely low pH. They made sure that the temperature and salinity were the same between each vent to limit the amount of confounding variables. The pH was measured for each site frequently and they took abundance measures of invertebrates at each vent. They then identified each invertebrate taxonomically. Because they took the abundance from each plot and compared it, it was a cross sectional study. They selected each general space based off of another scientists work because the pH they were observing was very specific, but selected the zones randomly which were 20 meters long and separated from the next zone by at least 20-25 m. I would say this is cluster sampling, except the fact that they were not able to choose all the members, just a large number of them.
By comparing abundances at each pH level, they were able to show that the extremely low levels of pH affect the evenness of the species. Taxonomically, there were a lot less species in the extremely low levels of pH, however, the species that did exist in the extremely low pH vents were high in numbers, essentially making up for the taxa that were not present (Kroeker et al., 2011).

Citation:
Kroeker, K.J., Micheli, F., Gambi, M.C., and Martz, T.R. (2011). Divergent ecosystem responses within a benthic marine community to ocean acidification. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 108, 14515–14520.

Why Do We Care About Biostatistic

Biostatistics is an important part of biology and can be used in a plethora of ways. It is a way to quantitatively demonstrate that an experiment was significant or used to discover pertinent information when comparing data. By using biostatistics in any type of biology, it is possible to show data in a very accessible manner. This way, biostatistics can be given to policy makers and interest groups so that they may take into account the world around them before making decisions.

A few examples of how biostatistics is pertinent to marine biology comes from a marine ecology class I participated in this past summer. We observed the difference in abundance of barnacles between concrete pillars and wooden pillars. Although the difference in abundance was quite clear through simple observation of the pillars, the statistical tests that were run gave us a significant number. The significant number was found when comparing the two pillars numerically and essentially tells us that there is a difference in abundance quantitatively.

Another really important idea behind biostatistics is that one is able to compare many variables in an experiment, rather just focusing on one idea. Using the barnacle abundance example, along with barnacle abundance differences in concrete versus wooden pillars, we observed two different genus of barnacles on multiple wooden pillars and found by using biostatistics that one genus grew more abundantly at a certain height compared to the other.

By using biostatistics, it is possible to make assumptions of an entire population. In this case we could assume that the barnacles will appear in the abundances observed on other wooden pillars. One downfall of assumptions is it is possible to draw invalid significant differences if there is not enough data collected in an experiment. Biostatistics helps to exclude personal bias because when making visual observations, there is a chance the data observed leans one way or another, and when only using numbers, at least it is an exact measurement of significance.

Over time, biostatistics becomes even more important because it allows for easy interpretation throughout history. For example, there is an invasive tunicate in the North Carolina coast and by taking abundance samples of various areas over many years, we are able to observe the affects the tunicates are having on native species. This can be applied to many different abundance observations and can help lead to policies around conservation issues in determining whether species are threatened or endangered.

Hans Rosling, a founder of gapminder.com did a Ted Talk on how biostatistics can help to understand the world better. Many of the examples he gave showed that with statistics that over time, the health, poverty, and child mortality is improving in almost every country whereas most of the time, people assume that these different issues are not getting any better or actually getting worse. Using biostatistics, the world is able to debunk these assumptions and help to look to the future rather than teaching the past. Another thing he explains is that using average data for each country while looking at health care issues can be detrimental, because the same population can have very large variances. When looking at the variances, it will be important to ask how policies can be changed to help all variances, not only the average. Therefore biostatistics is important because we are able to quantifiably tell where large variances occur. Essentially biostatistics is important to global health policies because the data received can be compared by multiple countries and for multiple data sets.

It is beneficial in all aspects of biology, especially when considering multiple variables in one experiment to use biostatistics. By using biostatistics, we are able to observe the world in a simplified way. However, sometimes in health care, it can be harmful to look at only averages because it can lead to not seeing the effect on individual. Policy changes can be made in conservation and health care by knowing what is significant and what is not.