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Bio Research Paper

For the last ecology lab, we will be comparing the biodiversity and abiotic characteristics of systems at different stages of succession. You will be doing a comparative experiment between three communities to see how different successional stages impact a variety of characteristics. In science, experiments are never run, nor really designed, until a full literature search has been performed. This is so the scientist has a comprehensive grasp of the topic into which they wish to delve. As such, you will be doing the same in preparation for this lab.

You need to find 5 sources in the scientific literature that explain how successional stage and biodiversity are linked and write a short summary of each paper. The summaries do not need to be long – you can even just do these bullet points in bullet form – but you are expected to summarize, not just restate everything the author said and NOT copy and paste. The format can be annotated bibliography or essay. Summaries should include

  • what kind of system was being considered (forest, wetland, prairie, etc.)
  • the author’s hypothesis (should be stated in the beginning of the paper or abstract)
  • what parameters they looked at and why (look at the methods section and the intro)
  • what their results indicated
  • how succession is explained/represented/explored in the article overall
  • how these results could impact the hypothesis when you perform the final lab


Consider looking into multiple systems and multiple aspects (plant community, animal community, microbial community, abiotic impacts, etc.), though we will be mostly concerned with aquatic systems for the lab. The summaries should give you a good basis to make some predictions about the experiments we will be performing in lab. They will also help you determine what aspects of this study you do not understand at this time. If there are terms, concepts, results, etc. that you do not understand, make sure you do the reading necessary to clarify these things for you. Include a bibliography of all your sources with your summaries. (consider starting your search with something like “successional stages and biodiversity”)


Literature searches are due when you walk into the outdoor ecology lab (or earlier via email). Literature searches will not be accepted late and will not be accepted from anyone that does not attend the lab. In addition, we will be outside almost the whole lab, so come prepared for dirt, mud, and off trail walking. There is poison ivy throughout the site so long pants and enclosed shoes are necessary. It is muddy, boots are recommended. Rain will not stop us from going out, come prepared. Cold weather will not stop us either, dress appropriately. If you are not dressed and prepared appropriately you will be miserable, but you will still be going out. Consider yourselves warned. J


How to find scientific articles:

  • Got to Mardigian Library web page (can link from the UMD homepage under Academics)
  • In the search box at the upper left of the page – search “Biodiversity, succession”
  • You will get a list of all materials
  • Select “Full articles on line” and “Scholarly and peer reviewed” to refine your search
  • Select “journal articles” under content type
  • Select “ecology” under discipline to refine the search further
  • This will give you almost 14,000 articles – pick 5 you like, any 5 you understand
  • You can further refine your search by picking a specific habitat of interest to you (forest, grasslands, wetlands, etc.) if you like.

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