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Eno Concept Map Feedback

Attached at the bottom of this page is a pdf compilation of all of your concept maps together with sticky note comments attached to each map.  Alison wrote the comments so you can speak to her about the specifics of her suggestions.  Instead of reiterating Alison's comments, which I agree with, I'll make the following general recommendations.

First - because we are beginning with a trophic interaction, too many of you are using your concept map to simply represent a food web without providing any other context.  We want to see your map extending outward from the very specific questions guiding the experiment (Do crayfish feed selectively on smaller snails?  To what extent does size selective predation depend on a) the size of the crayfish or b) the presence of an alternative prey (clams)?) to include broader context.  Many of you failed to think outside of those little gray boxes.

Second - when we talk about interactions amongst concepts, it is not interesting or particularly useful to say A and B interact (everything in an ecological system interacts).  We must describe the direction, magnitude and importance of that interaction (in the text of a paper or along the arrows in a concept map).  Crayfish affect snails is not as useful as Crayfish eat snails which is not as good as Snails make up 35% (+/- 15%) of the diet of young crayfish.  We're aiming to be as specific as it is possible to be given the information from our reading and our own analyses.

Third - get creative - we don't have hard and fast rules for our concept maps so feel free to use some color coding to represent your uncertainty or to clearly show what the key interactions motivating your study are.  Concept map #5 is a really creative use of mapping to explore that author's understanding.  Its clear that the author learned something in putting that map together or at least that the exercise helped them uncover the strongest and weakest links in their understanding of the topic.  

Fourth - this time around we said it was okay to write this for any audience, but in all subsequent assignments you are going to be writing to fellow ecologists.  This means you need to hook your ideas / questions into the larger body of assembled knowledge on a topic available in the published literature.  John did this well in making his graph last week - had John read about how crayfish diets change with age before we designed our experiment, we might have set up a very different set of analyses [we at least would have weighed those macrophytes].  Use the literature to build your concept map.  When you don't know how to describe the connection between two boxes in your concept map (dissolved oxygen and macrophytes for example) go to the literature (or to textbooks) and find out what is known about this already.

Emily Bernhardt,
Sep 19, 2011, 7:02 AM