PS 23-61 - Using data discovery to promote ecological understanding in undergraduate ecology courses: The EcoEdDL and Science Pipes collaboration

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Exhibit Hall, Oregon Convention Center
Kenneth M. Klemow, Biology, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Paul Allen, Cornell University, David Kirschtel, Consultant, Traverse City, MI, Kathleen L. Shea, Biology, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, Teresa Mourad, Education & Diversity Programs, Ecological Society of America, Washington, DC and Celia Smith, Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI

EcoEd Digital Library (beta) ( is ESA’s online catalog of resources for teaching undergraduate ecology. Resources are peer-reviewed for quality, scientific accuracy, and pedagogical use; they include photographs and illustrations, graphs and figures, teaching guidelines, and activities for the classroom, lab and field. EcoEdDL also houses ESA publications including Ecology 101 Articles, Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology and Issues in Ecology. In 2010, EcoEdDL switched to a new web platform to enhance community-building using social media and user feedback.  In 2011, ESA partnered with Cornell University's Science Pipes project ( and three other professional societies to develop tools to promote the use and analysis of large datasets in undergraduate classrooms. Science Pipes provides a framework that allows students to access datasets of various sizes and level of complexity, analyze them, and visualize the results without using spreadsheets or statistical software. Students can analyze and depict broad patterns of species diversity within ecoregions, and access avian data collected by citizen science methods. This collaboration will expand the range of datasets within Science Pipes, and make available a variety of datasets, visualizations and related activities through EcoEdDL. This past year, a Science-Pipe based protocol was created to enable students to generate life tables and survivorship curves based on birth and death data collected from cemeteries. Using the cemetery demography module as an example, this poster will discuss the Science-Pipes architecture and workflow system, and show how it can be used to facilitate student learning of complex ecological concepts.


To guide this initiative, ESA has created a Data for the Ecology Classroom Advisory (DECA) panel, which recommends ecological datasets to be incorporated into the Science Pipes system and develops activities to accompany them. Datasets are selected according to several criteria: illustrate core ecological concepts, have a level of complexity amenable to incorporation into the Science Pipes system, represent a diversity of approaches, and applicable to undergraduate introductory lab/ecology courses. Once field-testing is complete, ESA will update the EcoEdDL site to allow instructors and students access to the datasets; complete instructions and opportunities for user feedback will be provided. EcoEdDL continues to accept faculty and researcher submissions of visual resources, exercises, and other teaching materials. ESA’s long-term goal for EcoEdDL is to build and maintain a user-friendly library for ecology researchers and educators to obtain current information and ideas for teaching resources in order to support outstanding 21st century biology and ecology education.