When preparing and gathering the data for you project, the most important thing is which question do you want to ask and how you want to answer it. Start with a question you are interested in. From there, ask what data do you need to answer the question. The data available for the AB-202 projects will pose some restrictions on the questions you can explore. In real-world science, similar restrictions posed will be available time and resources for sampling and analysis of samples/data. Have a look at the available data and see if what you need is available or if you might have to moderate the question.
Type of data you need:
Metadata: information about where, when and how your samples/data was gathered (sometimes also what). All data is rendered worthless if you do not keep track of your metadata.
Environmental data: this is the background data and depends on the question and environment you are investigating. Typical environmental data for marine research are temperature, salinity, depth, oxygen content and for bethic research also bottom type.
Response variables: Those are in our community studies the different taxa found and the number of individuals found in each taxa at each time of sampling or location. For some questions you might have for example size measurements of organisms, functional traits, or other biological measures.
You can either prepare a seperate data-sheet for environmental variables and response variables (each has to contain the metadata) which you both import into R. Or you can prepare one combined sheet, which can be subsett and devided into smaller dataframes in R later on. I prefere the latter, but this comes down to personal preference.
You can enter data directly into R, but mostely you would pepare your data in a spreadsheet in another program first. Most likely this will be excel or something similar (tips on how to work with excel).