We’ve all talked to PIs who express how surprised they are to leave the bench when they become assistant professors. They lament how much grant writing and budgeting they do and that PhD training did not prepare them for the job. Additionally, we hear from many PhDs that their program didn’t prepare them for a non-academic job. However, this does not have to be the case. With planning, PhD students can train in the numerous soft skills that will be useful for either academic or non-academic jobs.
A major challenge for predicting the strength and direction of plant-soil feedbacks (PSF) is understanding the interactions between plant traits, belowground communities, and the soil processes both compartments influence. A new article by Ke et al. (2015) uses a modeling approach to test how interactions between litter- and root-mediated pathways can influence which plant and soil biota traits are important mechanisms that drive PSF. Here, we will unpack their model in a simple way and touch on some of the interesting ecological and evolutionary implications.
The model developed by Ke et al. attempts to capture the complexities involved in PSF by considering six major elements wherein each element interacts. Although highly complex, we can easily illustrate this model by following the movement of nitrogen through the system. In seedlings and adults, nitrogen is obtained through both a natural ability and mycorrhizal-mediated pathway. Both seedlings and...Read the full article.
There are different kinds of mystery. Subatomic particles are almost illogically tiny, so we can only figure out what’s happening with big machines, long-term data, ingenious experiments, and a bunch of logical inferences. Because science is hard, then there are some simple facts about the world that we don’t know. For instance, the cause of gravity. It’s a mystery, but we have a specific question that we’re trying to answer, even if we don’t know the direction from which the answer will emerge.
We are missing fundamental facts at the foundation of physics. As Donald Rumsfeld would say, there are known unknowns. We know that there are certain things that we don’t know about physics, and are working to know them.
Ecology has a different kind of mystery. I don’t think we have big conceptual known unknowns. At least, I haven’t really heard anybody articulate...Read the full article.
Editing is a crucial aspect of movie making. You can totally change a film by recutting it. As illustrated by the internet meme where people recut film trailers to change the genre. The Shining as a romantic comedy, anyone? Or think of Steven Soderburgh recutting Raiders of the Lost Ark as a silent film or editing Heaven’s Gate down to half its original length. And who doesn’t wish that they could edit the entire Hobbit trilogy down to the single killer movie it should’ve been? And then there are the smaller but still substantial effects of recutting, like the difference between the...Read the full article.
As a biologist, I look at the world through the lens of science.
From this viewpoint, it is easy to comprehend quite how much remains to be discovered and understood. More than enough to fill a lifetime, but it worries me that by the end of mine, countless species might have been lost before they were discovered and the layers of biological complexity will have been peeled back and simplified until only the simplest and dullest of ecosystems remain intact.
I don’t normally linger on such thinking, it’s counter productive and rather pessimistic (and I’m a stubborn optimist). In fact I generally have little time for the handy-wave empathetic or emotional side of conservation, full stop.
Conservation quite simply makes sound economic sense. That should be more than enough to...Read the full article.
GfOe Annual Meeting 2015 – Ecology for a Sustainable Future – will be held from August 31st to September 4th, 2015 in Göttingen, Germany.
The Biological Records Centre will be hosting their 2nd Annual Symposium – Ecological Networks – on the 7th and 8th of September in Bristol.
The deadline is fast approaching for the Trends in Biodiversity and Evolution 2015 Conference – Global Biodiversity Change: from genes to ecosystems – 1st and 2nd June, CIBIO-InBIO, Vairão, Portugal. Sign up by 10th May.
Two short courses on Bayesian modelling and hierarchical modelling of spatial and temporal data...Read the full article.
Over the past couple of years I’ve mentioned urban pollinators, and specifically the work of my PhD student Muzafar Hussain Sirohi, several times; for example here and here. Muzafar is currently finishing off the writing of his thesis, and during that time he’s also managed to publish the first paper from the study.
We are really pleased with this paper because not...Read the full article.