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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


LOAIZA VELASQUEZ, Natalia; GONZALEZ LUTZ, María Isabel  and  MONGE-NAJERA, Julián. Which statistics should tropical biologists learn?. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2011, vol.59, n.3, pp.983-992. ISSN 0034-7744.

Tropical biologists study the richest and most endangered biodiversity in the planet, and in these times of climate change and mega-extinctions,  the need for efficient, good quality research is more pressing than in the past. However, the statistical component in research published by tropical  authors sometimes suffers from poor quality in data collection; mediocre or bad experimental design and a rigid and outdated view of data analysis.  To suggest improvements in their statistical education, we listed all the statistical tests and other quantitative analyses used in two leading  tropical journals, the Revista de Biología Tropical and Biotropica, during a year. The 12 most frequent tests in the articles were: Analysis of  Variance (ANOVA), Chi-Square Test, Student’s T Test, Linear Regression, Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient, Mann-Whitney U Test, Kruskal-Wallis  Test, Shannon’s Diversity Index, Tukey’s Test, Cluster Analysis, Spearman’s Rank Correlation Test and Principal Component Analysis. We conclude  that statistical education for tropical biologists must abandon the old syllabus based on the mathematical side of statistics and concentrate on the  correct selection of these and other procedures and tests, on their biological interpretation and on the use of reliable and friendly freeware. We  think that their time will be better spent understanding and protecting tropical ecosystems than trying to learn the mathematical foundations of  statistics: in most cases, a well designed one-semester course should be enough for their basic requirements. Rev. Biol. Trop. 59 (3): 983-992. Epub 2011 September 01.

Keywords : education of tropical biologists; statistical courses; free statistics software; tropical biology journals.

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