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Re: Experimental Design: Aquatic Plants
Jeffery Ludwig is wondering about "real" experimentation on aquatic plants
and publishing the results to benefit us all. Good going Jeffery, for a
while there I was under the impression that everyone was content to coast
along on annecdotal evidence.
A lot of people have conducted real experiments that have benefited our
hobby - PMDD started life as an experiment in plant nutrition and algae
control by two guys with an interest in aquatic plants, and look how much
their work has benefited the hobby.
Experiment design is an art unto itself - there are whole books written on
it, so I'll just point you to the library for how to design your
experiments. As far as publishing your results, I'm personally much more
partial to TAG than I would be to seeing something in FAMA, Karen Randall
can probably offer you suggestion there, as she's the Editor of TAG. And
before you pick what you want to actually experiment ON, you might want to
check some of the back issues of TAG - many articles have appeared in that
magazine over the years on hobbyist conducted experiments. Diana Walstad's
book might also offer you some pointers, both on what has already been done
and give you some ideas of what you might like to do.
There are probably many articles in academic journals that have application
to growing aquatic plants - the trick is tracking them down and geting your
hands on them. Since you are in University, the library ought to be able to
help you there - they can get you copies of pretty much anything, usually
for the cost of photocopying.
As far as WHAT you study - that's up to you. What interests you most? Just
remember that any experiment ought to study ONE thing and only ONE thing.
You have to identify and get a handle on as many variables as you can and
eliminate them. You also have to be aware of statistical variation - for the
results of any experiment to be useful, they have to be statistically
signifigant and repeatable - a "one-off" might not mean much.