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Pikaia

Maths skills for entomology

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Hi,

I'm probably going to sound like an idiot asking this, hopefully it isn't too generalised as a question. I also hope I'm posting this in the right section of the forum-what sort of mathematical skills and disciplines are commonly used in entomological fields? I'm just asking as I'm very interested in hopefully having a career in the future in something to do with entomology. I'm also asking as I don't currently have the best math skills, but I am studying at the moment and hope to get better with maths as I progress with said studies. 

Anyway, thanks for looking, just thought I'd ask out of curiosity. 

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I will preface this by stating that I do not think we have an entomologist as a member here. So unfortunately you may not get an in-depth answer regarding the methodologies used in that field. However, I can answer in a more general aspect with regard to the use of maths in biology but first:

1 hour ago, Pikaia said:

I'm probably going to sound like an idiot asking this, hopefully it isn't too generalised as a question.

Seeking knowledge never makes you seem like an idiot (in fact, the opposite, i.e. stating assumptions as facts is much more likely to do that).

Quote

I'm also asking as I don't currently have the best math skills, but I am studying at the moment and hope to get better with maths as I progress with said studies.

In biology mathematics is generally used as a (often superficial) tool. I.e. often there is not a lot of in-depth knowledge on the maths itself (with specialized exceptions). More commonly folks apply certain mathematical methods for a defined set of applications (such as simple correlation studies, hypothesis testing and so on). That being said, it is not necessarily a good situation as many researchers really boost their research by applying or even developing new models to gain better insights using their data.

In the field of entomology I could envision that DNA-based work may become more common for a variety of questions and in that area there are quite a few established mathematical models in use.

I will also say that not having expertise in something does not qualify you from gaining the required knowledge. Obviously the goal is to gain enough knowledge to rival a mathematician, but rather getting enough to bolster the biological work. And as a matter of fact, you will gain necessary skills as you start working in a given area. Considering that there is nothing magical to mathematics, there is really no reason why that should limit your ambitions.

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See if you can get a copy of this book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mathematics-Statistics-Biosciences-Its-Applications/dp/0135605415

An early SH copy will do and they come at ridiculous prices.

Note the authors include statistics, which will be the principle maths you will need. The rest is largely just to understand the formula etc you will meet in the stats.

 

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22 hours ago, CharonY said:

I will preface this by stating that I do not think we have an entomologist as a member here. So unfortunately you may not get an in-depth answer regarding the methodologies used in that field. However, I can answer in a more general aspect with regard to the use of maths in biology but first:

Seeking knowledge never makes you seem like an idiot (in fact, the opposite, i.e. stating assumptions as facts is much more likely to do that).

In biology mathematics is generally used as a (often superficial) tool. I.e. often there is not a lot of in-depth knowledge on the maths itself (with specialized exceptions). More commonly folks apply certain mathematical methods for a defined set of applications (such as simple correlation studies, hypothesis testing and so on). That being said, it is not necessarily a good situation as many researchers really boost their research by applying or even developing new models to gain better insights using their data.

In the field of entomology I could envision that DNA-based work may become more common for a variety of questions and in that area there are quite a few established mathematical models in use.

I will also say that not having expertise in something does not qualify you from gaining the required knowledge. Obviously the goal is to gain enough knowledge to rival a mathematician, but rather getting enough to bolster the biological work. And as a matter of fact, you will gain necessary skills as you start working in a given area. Considering that there is nothing magical to mathematics, there is really no reason why that should limit your ambitions.

Thank you for the in-depth response. The information you have provided seems like a useful starting point to give me an idea of the sort of thing I'm looking for. I hopefully have a better idea of the sort of things I need to work on improving my understanding of.

 

21 hours ago, studiot said:

See if you can get a copy of this book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mathematics-Statistics-Biosciences-Its-Applications/dp/0135605415

An early SH copy will do and they come at ridiculous prices.

Note the authors include statistics, which will be the principle maths you will need. The rest is largely just to understand the formula etc you will meet in the stats.

 

I'll look into this book, it sounds like it would be useful. Thank you for linking me to it!

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On 10/15/2019 at 9:19 PM, Pikaia said:

but I am studying at the moment and hope to get better with maths as I progress with said studies.

Something to bear in mind.

You want to be an entomologist and realise that you will need to use mathematics in your daily work.

From your point of view you will not need superslick mathematical manipulative skills.
What you will need will be an understanding of what say a summation, an integral, or a derivative will give you.
You do not need to know how to fiddle the formulae to get fancy formulae, let the mathematicians do that.

So you will need to know that when you see this symbol called 'the integral'


[math]\int_a^b {f\left( x \right)} dx[/math]


You should be thinking of the area or volume of some shape, more complicated than a square or rectangle.
Probably the area of a graph.

When you see this symbol for summation using the greek letter upper case sigma


[math]\sum\limits_1^n {\frac{{\left( {{x_i} - \bar x} \right)}}{{\left( {n - 1} \right)}}} [/math]


you will probably be working on some statistics perhaps a bug count, averaged over several zones.

and this symbol called the general derivative describes the 'rate of change' of something


[math]\frac{{dy}}{{dx}}[/math]


You will most probably meet the derivative in the form of a 'differential equation' when studying insect biochemistry,
perhaps the rate of production or use of some enzyme or other compound peculiar to an insect of interest.

[math]\frac{{d\left[ A \right]}}{{dt}} =  - k\left[ A \right]\left[ B \right][/math]

Don't worry, such equations have standard solutions that you use.

 

As to the book here is the note inside the front cover.

biomaths1.thumb.jpg.0c41f2cc0616b90469e7722ca4fcd8ba.jpg

 

Go well in your future studies.

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