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Demography from physical cemeteries, "virtual cemeteries," and census data

In this exercise, students will use data concerning lifespan and demography to generate graphs, compare the survivorship curves of two cohort groups with Logrank (Mantel-Cox) tests, and explain the differences in the curves.

Students collect, interpret, graph, analyze, and present data on the demography of human survivorship using the data from tombstones in local cemeteries that provide ages at death, on-line cemetery records, and census records that provide the numbers of people alive in different age classes.

This activity is included in Volume 8 of Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE).
Cumulative Rating: This resource has a 5 star rating (based on 1 response)
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords cemetery, data sets, census, demography, graphs, analysis, survivorship
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Description This activity is intended for students to conduct a scientific investigation using data. Students will learn and practice the skills of interpreting data and generating graphs.

Faculty can incorporate this laboratory activity to teach students how to collect and interpret data. Students would also learn how to use the Logrank (Mantel-Cox) tests to compare the curves of graphs.
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Biology Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Primary Author email
Submitter Email
Rights Janet Lanza
Date Of Record Submission 2012-04-02

Resource Comments

Subject: Comment On: Demography from physical cemeteries, "virtual cemeteries," and census data
Posted By: douglasenorton
Date Posted: 2016-05-20 15:45:25
I used this module in a new course on Modeling in the Life Sciences. The students enjoyed finding their own sources of data for comparison and analysis.

More complete comments on the implementation are found here:
Subject: Comment On: Demography from physical cemeteries, "virtual cemeteries," and census data
Posted By: Kevingeedey
Date Posted: 2016-05-20 11:26:51
I used this module in the context of an upper level ecology class for biology and environmental studies majors. I used the virtual cemetery option to make the entire activity fit into a three hour session. Of all the labs I do in this class, this one connects most easily and fully with the broader liberal arts emphasis of my institution.
Subject: Comment On: Demography from physical cemeteries, "virtual cemeteries," and census data
Posted By: hulshof
Date Posted: 2016-05-19 21:33:56
I used this module in a small (12 students) introductory Ecology course for undergraduate Biology majors. This module was adaptable to local (Puerto Rico) populations, making it more relevant.

This module achieves several major learning objectives including: formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and collect, analyze, and interpret data.

I included additional assignments to introduce terminology and to connect this module to broader concepts previously discussed (e.g. climate change).

It is strongly recommended that students have a basic knowledge of excel (including how to create formula) before implementing this module.

I have posted instructor notes and modified resources for implementing this module:

This message was edited by hulshof on May 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm.

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