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For this assignment, you will write an explanatory essay in the style of scientific journalism that highlights an interesting animal behavior that you observed yourself, preferably in nature while watching free-ranging animals. Your observations that inspire your topic have to be documented with photos, videos, and descriptions. The topic itself has to then be based on published studies in the primary, peer-reviewed literature. Think of the goal of this assignment as outreach: you are writing an essay and sharing observations you made in order to better help the general public engage with and appreciate the fascinating and diverse world of animal behavior research.I HAVE ATTACHED 2 EXAMPLES OF AN EXPLANATORY ESSAY!!In order to complete this assignment, you will need to first spend time outside watching animals. You don’t have to leave your neighborhood in San Diego (or wherever you’re taking this course from) to do this. On walks around my neighborhood, I regularly encounter interesting animals and can watch them go about their lives. Here are some examples of observations that could occur right outside your house, and things they make you think about:1. Social groups of crows cawing at each other. What do the signals mean? How does communication work in these groups? Are they families, or largely unrelated? Are they competing or cooperating?2. Hummingbirds zipping from flower to flower. Do they prefer certain plants over others? Does the color of the flower matter to them? What happens when they see other hummingbirds in their territory? Why do they make the scratchy calling sound? How is it possible for their wings to move so quickly?3. A garden spider’s web in the shrubs down the street. It wasn’t there last night—did the spider build it over night? Do they rebuild webs often? What are those funny zigzag designs in the web? The web seems like an elaborately engineered construct—how do spiders know how to build them? How does something that thin not break when a grasshopper hits it?4. A trail of ants going up a milkweed plant and swarming around orange-colored aphids. It looks like they are not eating the aphids—why not? What is the relationship between ants and aphids? Are the ants coordinating their behavior? How do they communicate with each other?And of the questions in the above examples could be developed into a topic for your paper. If you need help identifying specific animals, the iNaturalist app is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of natural history and find out about the animals that live around you. The AI on iNat is not infallible, but if you get a decent picture of an animal, it’s very good at helping you ID the species.After you document the original observations with photos and/or video, you should do research on the species and behavior you observed. You can even integrate those original observations into your essay. However, the essay itself must focus on interpreting and explaining primary literature, with one or two focal papers serving as the main references, and several other related papers serving as additional references. Thus, this = assignment has two main components:1) Documentation of the behavior. You need to write a short descriptive summary of the observations that led you to your focal topic and focal literature paper, and include some video and/or photo recordings of the behavior. These don’t necessarily have to be high quality—you won’t be evaluated on the quality of level of professionalism of the videos or photos themselves. However, if you are able to record a very interesting or unusual behavior, that is a fantastic outcome, and could be used to help in the possible outreach component of the assignment. But for your evaluation in the class, you just need to provide some sort of documentation of the event and a description. The description should be clear, concise, and free of errors, but the writing here won’t be evaluated with the higher standard we will apply to your essay. You should put the description in the same Word document in which you write your essay, as a separate section after the references. You can embed photos in the document itself, but upload any videos you took of the behavior to google drive and embed links to these files in the description. Make sure the link sharing is turned on.2) The essay Once you have your focal paper from the literature, your assignment is write an explanatory essay that elaborates on the behavior and the research that went in to discovering it. Your article must present a clearly organized, logically sound, and compelling narrative concerning the specific animal and behavior in the literature, and also incorporate some descriptions of your own observations that led you to that topic. You must have at least four other references from the scientific literature that provide the background material you summarize, in addition to your focal paper (i.e., 5 references total). Your article should be written in a journalistic style directed towards the general public (not directed towards specific segments of the scientific community as is done in a peer-reviewed science paper). Your article should be between ~800-1200 words (this is about 2 single-spaced pages with normal margins and 12 pt font), not including the title or list of references. The goal of your article should be to provide your audience with the background on the general concepts involved, discuss the particulars of the behavior (this is where you could incorporate mentions of your own observation), explain in a general way how the researchers obtained their results, discuss the broader implications of the focal paper, and talk about any details or questions that are still unresolved or controversial. Your main focal paper and your other four references should be listed at the end of a paper in a “References” section. Feel free to include any figures, illustrations, or tables with the appropriate captioning and labeling. The title, figures, and references do not count against the word length restriction.As with all writing assignments, the most important aspect of this assignment is the quality of your writing. Be concise, clear, and brief. Minimize spelling or grammar errors. This requires lots of editing. Start early, rework your early drafts often, and have your peers review your work before you submit a final version. I have included examples of well written articles by science journalists below, and examples of similar assignments from past classes are present on the Blackboard site. If you want more examples of high quality scientific journalism, I recommend reading articles by Carl Zimmer from the New York Times, Ed Yong from The Atlantic, or more generally, biology articles published by Scientific American, New York Times, or National Geographic.A successful, well-written article will have the following attributes:(1) The writing is clear and concise throughout, with no spelling or grammar errors.(2) The article is not too broad. It is focused on a single topic of interest (e.g., plugging behavior in raiding ants).(3) The article provides a general introduction to the topic that is concise, but provides a broad context for the specific behavior or concept the article focuses on.(4) The article concisely summarizes some of the major findings of the focal paper, providing information on the general methodology and the results of the study. Additional details from other references are incorporated to provide context.(5) The author makes his/her own conclusions about the topic and discusses some of the important implications or unknown aspects of the behavior.(6) The references at the end are formatted consistently, following the style of the journal Behavioral Ecology (see author’s guide posted on blackboard).GRADING RUBRIC IS ALSO ATTACHED!!


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