What is Naturalistic Observation
. Conduct your observations over one species in a natural habitat for two hours. Note: this does not include a nature video, your home, people at the beach, classmates or relatives, or domesticated animals.
Your observation is only over 1 species and not multiple species and it should be on wild species found in a natural habitat. For example, if you are observing egrets, that’s all you’re observing. You don’t also observe alligators, herons, ibises, etc.
The following are approved locations for observation:
- Nature park: state or county
- Pond, lake or river
- Local zoo
- Local aquarium
While observing, record your observations using the following guidelines:
- Record your observations electronically in a Microsoft Word document, or transfer your written notes to a Microsoft Word document following your observations. You will be submitting your observations in a Dropbox folder here in the online course (see below). All observations will be checked for originality / duplication among the group.
- Start each observation with a time, date and weather conditions
- Record the time at 10 minute intervals throughout the observation for a total of 2 hours.
- Record simply what is going on in the area during your time there. Was there one individual or many of the same species? Was the species you are observing interacting with other organisms? If so, was it another organism of the same or different species? Was the species you are observing sleeping, eating, etc. Do not make any judgments in the observation.
- Include at least 5 pictures taken on site of the observation and the species you are observing.
2. Plan your observation schedule. Your schedule may consist of two single-hour observations, or one 2 hour observation. Make sure to note time, date and weather conditions regardless of schedule.
3. Read the following resources to learn about systematic observations:
- “What is Naturalistic Observation?” article by Kendry CherryWhat is Naturalistic Observation
- “Systematic Observation” article by B. Sommer
- “Outdoor Action Guide to Nature Observation & Stalking” article by Rick Curtis
- Sample observations blog by the Montana Natural History Center
- Observation Examples
4. When finished observing, ensure that your recorded observations are in a Microsoft Word (.docx or .doc) or Rich Text File (.rtf) formatted file, and submit the file to the My Science Experiment dropbox folder.
You will need to look at the observations you have made, and try and draw conclusions for what you have observed. Answer the following questions using a minimum word count of at least 500 wordstotal. Email your Professor if you have any questions.
- Did the species stay or leave the area in your time frame?
- If the species left, did it return? Why do you think it did this?
- Was the species alone or in a group?
- Did you see any patterns in how they grouped together?
- Can you tell if they were a mixed group (males and females, adults and juveniles) or homogeneous?
- What was the behavior of the species: sleeping, eating, playing, etc.
- Where there any juveniles or babies around? If so, what was the behavior of the organism?
- Once you find a pattern, discuss what you believe is the explanation, and support it with at least two sources of support. Note: this is not your opinion on their behavior, but the scientifically supported research discussing the species’ behavior as documented by others.
Use APA style for your citations.
2. When finished observing, ensure that your recorded observations are in a Microsoft Word (.docx or .doc) or Rich Text File (.rtf) formatted file, and submit the file to the Analysis of My Science Experiment dropbox folder.