Biaza Research Papers

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Abstract

Zoo research presents many statistical challenges, mostly arising from the need to work with small sample sizes. Efforts to overcome these often lead to the misuse of statistics including pseudoreplication, inappropriate pooling, assumption violation or excessive Type II errors because of using tests with low power to avoid assumption violation. To tackle these issues and make some general statistical recommendations for zoo researchers, the Research Group of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) conducted a workshop. Participants included zoo-based researchers, university academics with zoo interests and three statistical experts. The result was a BIAZA publication Zoo Research Guidelines: Statistics for Typical Zoo Datasets (Plowman [2006] Zoo research guidelines: statistics for zoo datasets. London: BIAZA), which provides advice for zoo researchers on study design and analysis to ensure appropriate and rigorous use of statistics. The main recommendations are: (1) that many typical zoo investigations should be conducted as single case/small N randomized designs, analyzed with randomization tests, (2) that when comparing complete time budgets across conditions in behavioral studies, G tests and their derivatives are the most appropriate statistical tests and (3) that in studies involving multiple dependent and independent variables there are usually no satisfactory alternatives to traditional parametric tests and, despite some assumption violations, it is better to use these tests with careful interpretation, than to lose information through not testing at all. The BIAZA guidelines were recommended by American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) researchers at the AZA Annual Conference in Tampa, FL, September 2006, and are free to download from www.biaza.org.uk. Zoo Biol 27:226–233, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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