Paraphrasing Jill Baron, ESA President, we, as ecologists, might all feel a … certain way about oil companies, but then we get in our cars and drive away. Or fly to ESA.
So, at what point, or on what level, do we, again, as ecologists, directly engage businesses, including huge multinational corporations that are typically blamed for the environmental destruction we research, in a constructive conversation about maintaining biodiversity? One that doesn’t involve picket signs, or legalese, or inherent distrust?
I fully acknowledge my own visceral sense of distrust, evoked during last Monday’s special session on Biodiversity in Businesses, on the introduction of Maria Hartley, who works on...Read the full article.
I enjoyed the meeting and got a lot out of it. Thanks very much to the organizers for working so hard to make it happen. Some random thoughts and impressions:
I screwed up my Ignite talk, but it was fine. I stupidly planned for 15 slides at 20 seconds per slide, rather than the specified 20 slides at 15 seconds per slide. Oops. So I had to change it to 15 seconds per slide (them’s the rules!) I turned it into a joke about how 5 minute talks are for wimps and I was going to do my talk in 3:45, because I’m a blogger and I can be brief. It got a laugh, and the talk itself was fine. Between having been pretty well prepared, and the “modular” way in which my talk was structured, it wasn’t that hard to cut it down on the fly. There’s a lesson here for students. At some point, something’s going to wrong during one of your presentations (or one of your classes, if you’re a teacher). It could be an equipment failure, an audience member or student who keeps interrupting with questions...Read the full article.
Continuing our series of video interviews with project members, this week we feature Damià Barceló, Director of the Catalan Institute for Water Research in Girona, Spain. Damià leads the Globaqua project which – like MARS – studies the impacts – and interrelationships – of multiple stressors on our rivers and lakes. Unlike MARS, Globaqua is particularly concerned with understanding the effects of water scarcity and chemical contaminants such as pesticides on freshwater ecosystems.
Water scarcity is particularly important in Europe, partly because historically it has not been recognised by the Water Framework Directive, and partly because many rivers are temporary and do not flow year round from source tosea, especially in southern regions of the continent (...Read the full article.
Some years ago, a fascinating article in the National Geographic described the exceptional diversity of bat species to be found in Barro Colorado Island, Panama – incidentally where Ed Tanner is currently with some of his PhD students. Research by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and others had described 74 species, which managed to coexist by carving out distinct, often ingenious, niches. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/06/panama-bats/panama-bats-text. Some bats are physically adapted to hunt in open spaces, others in gaps and along edges, still others in the fine interstitial spaces of lower understorey layers. It is a dramatic example of how habitat structural complexity is related to, and helps promote, species richness.
We explore this relationship between habitat structure and species richness, and its relevance, in an...Read the full article.
We’re at Camp PalEON this week. It’s lots of fun and I think that the attendees get a lot out of it. Effectively we’re trying to distill process associated with the entire seven year project into one week of intensive learning. We teach probability theory, Bayesian methods, ecosystem modelling, dendrochronology, paleoecology and pollen analysis, age modelling and vegetation reconstruction to seventeen lucky early-career researchers in six intensive days (people were still plunking away at 11pm last night, our first day!).
We spend a lot of our time at the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Research Center indoors looking at computers, but we had a very nice time yesterday afternoon. I hung out on a raft with Jack Williams and Jason McLachlan, coring with a frozen finger. The frozen finger is a special kind of corer, used to recover lake sediment that preserves the sediment stratigraphy in a much cleaner way than many other coring techniques...Read the full article.
A few weeks ago I posted about ecosystem services and the differing opinions of writers such as George Monbiot and academics like Robert Costanza, together with a link to Monbiot’s lecture on the topic. A new online lecture by Costanza has just been released, based on a webinar he presented last week. It’s well worth watching, highly recommended as a state of the art over view of the concepts and progress in this area.
George Monbiot will not like it....Read the full article.
The semester is about to start. When your class meets for the first time, do you just go over syllabus, schedule, policies, and such? If you have some extra time, do you let your students go early or do you teach?
I teach, for a few reasons.
The preliminaries don’t take a whole class session. I’m done with the overview stuff in about half an hour. That means I have plenty of time left on the clock. A three-unit course only has 45 contact hours in a semester. I’m not going to squander away much of that time just by letting students leave early.
I particularly don’t want to waste time on the first occasion we meet. First impressions matter. The tone of the course — and the expectations of the students — are set quite early. (In K-12 teaching, the “first ten days” of the academic year are seen to be a critical time...Read the full article.
Written by a professional pelagic birding tour guide and photographer, this book presents a popular account of what is known about the enigmatic flyingfishes, and its illustrated with an abundance of breathtaking full-colour photographs.
After browsing through shelves and shelves of field guides in a typical nature bookshop, you might suspect theres a field guide for absolutely every group of anything you can find on the planet -- birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, plants, trees, dinosaurs -- and yes, even rocks. But theres one group of animals about which no books have ever been published; flyingfish. But naturalist Steve Howell has remedied this oversight with his new book, The Amazing World of Flyingfish [Princeton University Press, 2014; Guardian bookshop; Amazon UK;...Read the full article.
Here’s something new for this blog: a timely book review. Rees Kassen‘s Experimental Evolution and the Nature of Biodiversity has just been published. Here’s my review.
Full disclosure: Rees is a friend, I spent a semester visiting his lab back in 2010. He was kind enough to send me a free copy of his book. I tried not to let it affect my review one way or the other, and I hope I managed to do that.
The book reviews what we’ve learned about evolutionary adaptation and diversification from experimental evolution of microbes. Connecting adaptation and diversification is an old problem, one Darwin himself famously...Read the full article.