The purpose of the A Study Guide to Basic Ecology is to weave—out of the information on Life Science contained in Wikipedia—a course of study for the student or layman. It is anticipated that this course will be either supplemental to instruction being received at a school or college, or will be self-directed. We hope to include, within each chapter, sufficient text to make clear the concepts important to understanding life on earth from an ecological perspective. However, acquiring this knowledge will require a careful reading of assigned articles in Wikipedia. Thus, each module presents one or more "reading assignments" of the form:
- Read Ecology (Links need not be pursued at this time)
Following (that is clicking on) the link (to Wikipedia "Ecology" article in this case) will open the article intended to provide the details of the Chapter subsection. Recommended articles should be read from top to bottom, and then re-read following some or all of the links embedded in the article to other articles for expanded elucidation or to clarify terms; that is, in most cases, completion of an "assignment" (recommended article) includes at least some or all articles linked to the first. Obviously, it cannot be the case that all links are followed to articles, whose links are then followed to articles, and so on until no new material is encountered. It is likely there would be no quick end to such a pursuit. The amount of time spent wandering beyond the original article is partly a personal matter of how much the reader is getting out of the foray than anything else. Realize it is certainly possible to wander well off the subject at hand. As in the example above, notes are provided with assignments giving some direction for pursuing links. An instruction NOT to pursue links simply means the additional material will likely be encountered later in the course of instruction, and going beyond the assigned article may provide too much detail for a course in "basic" ecology. The following example:
specifies that two other links ARE part of the assignment. Other links encountered may be followed to expand your knowledge or, as always, to aid in understanding of technical terms encountered. Occasional hyperlinks included within the text in the Guide (that is, separate from the assignments) are there simply for convenience, usually to topics somewhat peripheral to the main one or to terms you should be familiar with but may not be. In all cases, finding your way back to the Guide may be tricky, but we must leave this up to you to establish, beyond pointing out that your browser's Back button is intended for this purpose.
Note that at the beginning of each module, links are provided to both the previous chapter and the succeeding chapter, as well as to the main Table of Contents.
As a final note, read the next Section and consider how you might even make a contribution to the Guide.