MathBench > Environmental Science



Counting Dandelions (and other organisms)

Much of biology and ecology is concerned with populations: how many organisms are there? Are there as many as last year? Are there as many in a polluted environment as in a clean environment? What about climate change? Urbanization? Dust storms? Sun spots?

bacteriaThe organisms in question might be elephants or coral polyps or garden weeds, but many populations share a frustrating characteristic: they are difficult to count!

In fact, it’s impossible for scientists working with a large population to count every individual organism. Luckily, there is a simple and statistically sound way to estimate the size of a large population – take a random sample.