The methods section of a scientific article allows researchers to determine the validity of a study based off of its replicability. When developing an experiment, factors that may interfere with replicability should be controlled in an effort to minimize discrepancies between iterations. The methods project attempts to practice and develop these skills, as well as distinguish between observation and inference through the examination and replication of a multi-panel scientific figure illustrating an interspecific interaction.
In this project, the interspecific interaction between mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and Canada geese (Branta canadensis) will be examined. On campus, mallard ducks and Canada geese are commonly found by the pond during the winter months. Due to this proximity, both species often interact with each other in multiple ways. The most commonly observed interaction between these two species is the sharing of their space. The two species are easily photographable together since they are typically not shy, in the same general region, and quite prevalent. Therefore, images taken of them in this environment would be feasibly replicable.
Elements of this process to account for replicability include photography, location, weather, time, and levels of specificity. The location of the ducks and geese are on the pond in the center of campus, making them easy to find. Due to its vast size and the mobility of these two organisms, a camera with zooming capabilities should be chosen to document them individually as well as their interaction. The ducks and geese are typically observed near the end of the pond closest to the Fine Arts Center, either in the water or along the shore. It may take a while for the ducks and geese to trust a human enough to get close for pictures. If it is raining or snowing outside, the ducks and geese are away from the pond, so photography should be performed on a day with fairer weather. The geese, ducks, and their interaction should be photographed with non-specific surroundings to maximize the chances of successful replication. Out of these three images, the interaction of the two species especially should not be particular about the exact location on the pond due to the mobility of these organisms and the size of their environment.