Excel-Based Approach for Information Retrieval and Analysis of Population Data from the California Newt, Taricha torosa
- Stanley Warford, Professor of Computer Science, Pepperdine University
- Lee Kats, Associate Dean for Research, Pepperdine University
- Rodney Honeycutt, Chairperson; Professor of Biology, Pepperdine University
Pepperdine undergraduate students monitored streams in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California for over 10 years with the goal of understanding the behavior and ecology of the California newt, Taricha torosa. Information collected during each monitoring season includes data on gender, snout-vent length (SVL), location in the stream (pools, riffles, or runs), GPS coordinates, and pit tag numbers (AVID) that provide individual-specific markers. In particular, we are interested in addressing several specific questions including: How often do individuals return to the same site in a stream? What is the proportion of marked and unmarked individuals captured, and what does this tell us about the relative abundance of newts in a particular stream? Do larger males dominate portions of the stream that are more likely to support optimal numbers of females? One of the major problems with respect to testing hypotheses is the retrieval of specific subsets of data from the overall spreadsheet. Therefore, our paper presents an Excel-based approach that allows for both retrieval of specific information pertinent to each specific question and the organization of data that allows for direct statistical testing of hypotheses. The Excel program keeps the raw data in one sheet, and produces additional sheets by filtering the raw data. The first search engine allows the user to input AVID number, or SVL, or both, and displays the raw data according to those criteria. The second search engine allows the user to input habitat, or SVL, or both. The third search engine allows the user to input gender, and either a lower limit or upper limit on the SVL length. The fourth search engine calculates the number of recaptures and new individuals for specific years and specific habitats. The output of the Excel program can then be used as input to statistically test-of-hypotheses.