Publication Date



Population models; Ecology; Discrete time model; Introduction to programming


Programming skills and concepts are best taught within an applied framework in the students' discipline. However, many tutorials teach the skills and concepts, but alienate the applications and usefulness. We have produced a Field Guide to Programming, a tutorial that uses the discrete time population growth model as a concrete example to introduce and explain programming concepts. We equate our Field Guide to the beginning chapters of any naturalist's field guide, where the use of the guide is explained. This Field Guide covers a range of topics from simple mathematical expressions and assigning variables to functions and solvers for ordinary differential equations. We wrote and have used this Field Guide individually for self learners, as introductory and supplementary material for courses, as the outline for workshops, and a guide for multiple hands-on recitations within a course. After working through this Field Guide either alone or in a workshop setting, students will have the conceptual background to begin to use programming as a problem-solving tool and the terminology to begin to read programming-specific tutorials. We have included two versions of the tutorial: one for use with MATLAB and tested for compatibility with Octave and one for use with the R programming language. We have also included script files of the code from this Field Guide.

FieldGuidetoProgrammingforR.doc (781 kB)
Field Guide to Programming for R (Microsoft Word Document)

FieldGuidetoProgrammingforR.pdf (822 kB)
Field Guide to Programming for R (PDF File)

TFG-Rcode.zip (5 kB)
Code Files for R (Zip Archive)

FieldGuidetoProgrammingforMATLAB.doc (318 kB)
Field Guide to Programming for Matlab (Microsoft Word Document)

FieldGuidetoProgrammingforMATLAB.pdf (447 kB)
Field Guide to Programming for Matlab (PDF File)

TFG-MATLABcode.zip (4 kB)
Code Files for Matlab (Zip Archive)



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