The structure of the modeling system used provides a guide for data collection. The field and laboratory data are designed to parametrize and test the model dynamics. Specifically, laboratory age specific data under a range of temperature and other relevant abiotic variables are gathered to parametrize the model. The laboratory data are often gathered as age-specific life table data. Field population data with age, mass, morph and other relevant structure characteristics is gathered to estimates density dependent effects, trophic interaction effects and aspects of behavior and physiology. Field data are used as independent tests of the model (the predictions of the models are independent of the field data). The focus of sampling is not to determine statistical differences, but rather to estimate ecological relationships (Gilbert et al. 1976). Our various project provide information on how this is done. Although the approach is holistic, the data requirements are focused and can be efficiently gathered.
Gilbert, N. E., A. P. Gutierrez, B. D. Frazer and R. Jones. 1976. Ecological relationships. W. H. Freeman and Co., Reading and San Francisco, 156 pp.