KDE data
Learn About Ecology
Data And Science
World Biomes
Marine Mammals
Classroom Projects


What is data all about?
Data are the facts or bits of information that come from observations. Data can be numbers or words. Data are a very important part of the scientific method.

Collecting Data
Scientist often collect data to find out what is going on. For example, by collecting information year after year, scientists can see how populations change over time. Students in Santa Barbara collected data on whale sightings in the Santa Barbara Channel to get a better understanding of the kinds of whales present and how many there are. Collecting this type of information helps natural resource managers see what's present in an ecosystem, so that they can make more informed decisions.

See examples of data collection and presentation from actual research:

Beach Clean-Up

Whale Data

How can we look at data?
Data can be hard to look at because they are a bunch of numbers and names. We can only see and understand a few things at a time. To organize all these numbers and names, scientists use tables. They also may use the data to create pictures or graphs.

How about some examples?
If we read and record temperature from a thermometer at different times we will get data. If we count the number of dolphins sighted while on a boat we will get data. The resulting data will have numerical values, like "50," and descriptions of those values, such as 50 "dolphins" or 50 "degrees fahrenheit". One way to show this dolphin sighting data is on a line graph.