Developing Scientific Questions and Hypotheses

Scientific Inquiry using WildCam Photos


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This assignment is based on developing scientific questions and hypotheses using wildcam photos from Gorongosa’s National Park in Mozambique. Africa.   The key terms that you need to know are:

Phenomenon: an observation of a situation or fact that does not have a known cause, mechanism, or explanation.

Hypothesis: a tentative explanation for the observed phenomenon based on observations and/or prior scientific knowledge or data.

Complete the following steps below and answer each question below with a 1-4 sentence response, or by filling in the table.  All of your responses should be in complete sentences.


Required Resources  

The following multimedia on Gorgongosa National Park will help you answer the questions below

View the animation on Gorongosa’s Water Cycle  and launch the Gorongosa Interactive Map to learn more about the natural features and vegetation types of Gorongosa National Park. In the menu on the left side of the interactive map, click on the links to launch pop-up features that have additional information and videos. Use your cursor to place a checkmark next to each link to add locations to the map, including trail cameras and river conservation areas.

Tracking Lion Recovery in Gorongosa National Park

Surveying Biodiversity in Gorongosa National Park

A science-based approach to restoring Gorongosa’s wildlife

Register and launch the Wildcam interactive database to explore and revise your research questions (see below). You can download data to answer most research questions based on animal sightings. It is highly recommended that you view the brief tutorial at the beginning of the Wildcam so that you will be able to select criteria in order to explore your research questions.

By typing my name here I acknowledge that I have viewed all of the above required materials

Name:     Jonsel Jackson


1.) Developing Questions:

Develop at least three different questions about the observed phenomena related to vegetation type, and/or the kind of species in each vegetation type using the Wildcam interactive database.


  1. The woodlands is a type of closed canopy forest, with little to no vegetation growing at the ground. Are elephants not able to go in there and help knock down some trees. With trees being knocked down, sunlight is able to come through and allow more vegetation to grow allowing more animals to eat the vegetation.


  1. Why have leopards, hyenas and wild dogs not been seen in decades at the park?


  1. Where do crocodile’s go once the lakes or rivers dry up during the hot months and how do they survive?






2.)  Comparative Research Question:

Choose one of the scientific questions you listed in #1 and rewrite it as a comparative research question.




Examples: Comparative questions ask how some variable differs among a set of groups and are useful for designing experiments. For example, “Do male monarch butterflies have a larger wingspan than female monarch butterflies?” is a comparative research question. The variable measured is wingspan and the groups that are compared are males and females.  Counting the number of gazelles that visit a field is a somewhat interesting observation, but comparing the number of gazelles in a field with a high number of shrubs to a field that has a low number of shrubs is more interesting and useful in understanding how gazelles use their habitat.



5.) Develop a hypothesis from your comparative research question.

Example Question: During which season is the abundance of animals in the limestone gorge vegetation type highest?

Example hypothesis: In the limestone gorge vegetation type, animals are most abundant in the dry season because they are attracted to the water and green vegetation that are scarce in other areas.


My Hypothesis:


6.) Collect Data

Use the Wildcam interactive database to answer your comparative research question. A legend in the lower left of the screen explains how the map is color-coded by vegetation type and natural features. The orange dots on the map show the location of cameras. When you click on any of the orange dots, a pop-up window with a random selection of six images is displayed from that camera. Along the top of the pop-up window, information is displayed about the camera location and vegetation type.

The data on this map can be filtered by preset parameters. Click the “View Filters” button in the upper right portion of the map for a drop-down menu of filters.

Choose two filters that represent the variables in your hypothesis, or research question, and then select two camera locations on the map.

Record your observations in the table below:

Selected Filters Vegetation Type Animal observations (types, numbers, behaviors, etc.) Environmental/landscape observations


7.) Hypothesis Support

Explain whether the photo data supported or refuted your hypothesis. Use data from the table in your explanation. Describe at least two limitations in using trail camera data.



8.) Further Develop the Research

Explain how you might approach the study of this subject differently if were you to conduct similar research again. Discuss which new questions or ideas you have based on what you found.