Technical Scientific Report using wildlife populations, micro-invertebrates, macro-invertebrates, algae and diatoms as bio-indicators for water quality and pollution assessment Feedback

Hi. I wrote a technical scientific report that I’ve been working on since January using wildlife populations, micro-invertebrates, macro-invertebrates, algae and diatoms as bio-indicators for water quality and pollution assessment. If anybody wants to read it. Long short, I found out the water treatment plant in town is flushing sewage into the river. I may try to get it published.

I was just wondering if I could get some feedback on it?!AlytKAUpVrJdkBV20g2m0su8hLVf?e=N5Hz3a (new link, revised)


I’m not quite sure how to interpret the pie charts that are split between SD + mean: image

what do these represent?


For context, you should note that I’m not professionally involved in any ecology stuff, but I’ve dealt with a lot of scientific reports. So this might be kind of generic advice…

I do agree with @thebeachcomber - the use of a pie charts here makes zero sense to me.

I have a few other quick observations, so I’ll enumerate them:

  1. It isn’t clear why, in every instance the values follow this formula below. That implies to me that these do not represent a true standard deviation calculation. I’m also not sure how “Species Diversity” can be expressed using a percentage.

    SD = 100% - Average

  2. As the author of a report, it is not conventional that one self-cites for every graph, photograph, or figure included within. Anything included is presumed to be the work of the named authors unless otherwise stated. That’s part of the motivation in citing others’ works: You’re saying, “this (idea/thing/figure) was used in the report, but is not mine”; I did not create it", hence the credit properly goes to the original author, rather than you, the author of this report.

  3. The lists of species need additional separators. Currently the lists look like this (and for some reason it ends in a comma… that’s not me):

Canada Goose Branta canadensis, Common Merganser Mergus merganser, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Bufflehead Bucephala albeola, Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator, Wood Duck Aix sponsa, Herring Gull Larus argentatus, Great Blue Heron Ardea Herodias, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis, Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus, Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula,

Whereas a bulleted list, with binomial names first and common names separated with brackets is much clearer:

  • Branta canadensis (Canada Goose)
  • Mergus merganser (Common Merganser)
  • Pandion haliaetus (Osprey)
  • Bucephala albeola (Bufflehead)
  • etc…
  1. Many of the species photos would be better presented in an appendix. “Appendix A: Images of Species Observed”. I would, along with each image, include a link to the observation on iNaturalist, along with a bit more data about the date and location permanently preserved in the report.

  2. Your uncertain statement does not help the report. I would recommend creating a personal project on iNaturalist to contain the set of observations. was also used to upload most observations and for additional photographs to supplement this document, observations can be found here, at this think:

  1. Your methodology section would benefit to note the period over which your study was performed. (You did mention it in the intro, but it needs to be included here as well.) Again, another appendix with details on exact dates would be beneficial.

  2. The introduction could use some work. Specifically, I would expand on the nature of the area: Where are the Beaveridge Locks located? What kind of environment is it? What human impacts are already present?

On a weirdly personal note, I just looked up where the Beaveridge Locks are on Google Maps, and I realized that it’s just a couple kilometres from where my great great grandfather John Murphy farmed over by North Elmsley. No joke. Small world. And neat to see some of the species from there, even though I’ve never been to the area.


I tell my students to read and study closely the type of writing that they are themselves attempting to do. Your report varies considerably from published technical reports. Study other, similar reports very closely and mimic that style. Notice what statistics they use and how they use them. If you’re not well learned in the type of statistics you need, don’t use the statistics. It will get you in deep trouble very quickly by misusing statistics! Very deep, very quick!

Just to pick one phrase that you repeatedly use in the discussion: “More population and/or diversity can be expected”. That makes no sense grammatically nor scientifically. “More population…can be expected”? What is “more population”? “More…diversity can be expected”? What is the theoretical basis for this expectation of more diversity?

Another concerning phrase (in the abstract): “This study had successful results confirming the effectiveness of using…as bio-indicators for water quality and organic pollution assessment”. Just because you collected data doesn’t confirm that the data was effective in addressing a question. You would have needed to use an independent method to confirm that your method was effective.


Cikey, I forgot photos go in an appendix. Oops. So the consensus is to remove the pie charts?

I admit i’m not to good with math. In college I believe they told us to take the average and all the numbers in the column to find the standard deviation. I just wanted to use a little bit of stats in my report because I plan on using it to send to employers as a sample of my work as I hope it may help to find employment. In college as well, we were told to cite everything. Literally in the words of my English prof “cite the s*** out of everything”. lol

How do I do this?

I don’t understand. What do you mean? By independant method?

I’m not very good with the math, eh. I interpreted them to mean the average would be observatio,/population of what is expected and the deviation to be the change of observation/population that is expected.

Thanks for pointing this out.

That’s interesting. Small world indeed. It used to be a nice area but with increasing urban development it is very quickly becoming more and more populated. The section where i’m in for example is rather bizarre as to the left and right suburbs(ish) popped up, Then to the east and west there is fragmented forest and farmland with wildlife corridors. Used to be just farmland and forest.

Thanks for the feedback ya’ll.

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just wanted to use a little bit of stats in my report because I plan on using it to send to employers as a sample of my work as I hope it may help to find employment.

To paraphrase what pfau_tarleton noted about statistics: Bad use of statistics is far worse than inclusion of no statistics whatsoever. Consider it an case study in the adage, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

It really doesn’t make sense here and you haven’t calculated the standard deviation. This is a basic overview of how someone calculates a standard deviation from a data set:

For standard deviations, one is usually trying to estimate the variance of a particular measurement. For example, if I measured the number of bugs caught in different traps, all in the same forest. Here’s the number of bugs in each trap:


That could be summarized by a mean of 53.4 bugs/trap, and a standard deviation of 24.8 bugs/trap, indicating that it was highly variable. I might also report the maximum (99) and the minimum (3) to give a sense of the range.

For how to create a project:
For how to create a place: (see the “Place” tab).

What do you mean? By independant method?

It means that the method has been independently validated. Here’s a decent explanation in generic terms:

What is validation?
“The confirmation by examination and the provision of objective evidence that the particular requirements for a specific intended use are fulfilled”

  • specific intended use = analytical requirement
  • objective evidence = experimental data (method performance parameters)
  • confirmation (from comparison of requirements with evidence)


Unless you have some strong scientific expertise, it’s better to rely on standard methods. And again, cite the study which demonstrates the effectiveness and suitability of the method.


You certainly have put a lot of time into this report!

Yet I’d suggest creating an abstract of five pages or so where you summarize your findings and share an achievable conservation goal to show to a potential employer.

After all, you want to get past the gatekeepers in the office who might consider a 40 some page document too long to bring to the attention of their boss. Less is more :)

I agree that you should create an iNat project as a repository for most of your wildlife photos and link it to the appendix. You can reduce the length of your report without lessening its value.

All the best!


Okay, so I deleted the first one and I have uploaded a 2nd revised edition.!AlytKAUpVrJdkBV20g2m0su8hLVf?e=N5Hz3a

Also created a project page on inatz.

Seems the project location option didn’t have the place though, so I had to choose the county.


You can create a new place on iNat if you can get a .kml file (Anyone who does GIS could help you) of your study area.

Great abstract! Orientated me as what to expect in the rest of the report. Looking forward to checking out the iNat project—over 5000 observations. That’s great!

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Thank you. It was a a lot of work and a lot of fun as well, although the ending is a bit sad. With the pollution findings and such.

I had to wrap it up quickly though as I have found a new job contract so I have to move very soon for work. I just hope the conservation authority and township actually read it and take it seriously and at least stop the pollution.


Yes, your findings were sad, I certainly hope they act on them! Congratulations on your new contract. A new place = new discoveries! Take care.


I’m an amateur but I loved your report (I confess, especially the photos). As an activist, I suggest you contact local environmental organizations and/or local branches of larger environmental organizations. Possibly get a petition together through one of the free online sites that do this (in the U.S, is one). I have found it is much better to have a lot of people behind me than just politicking alone. Good luck!


Welcome to the forum, @Mouse

That is good feedback. Thank you for the link, too.

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I’ve sent it to the township, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority who is responsible for the watershed and the MNRF as well as the local news outlet. Nobody has read it. Nobody cares. I’ve gotten no feedback. People only pretend to care about the environment and the ministry is corrupt here in Canada.

Only way it’s going to get attention is if it goes virile. I’m not rich or popular enough to make that happen.


Good news. The newspaper called me this morning and is thinking about running it :)


Amazing! Good luck!

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That is wonderful good news.

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For anybody that is interested, the local paper did in fact publish my story today.

Link here;


It’s a pretty good article! I hope it raises awareness of the situation.