April 27, 2015

8:26 PM | We’re recruiting a good Scientific Software Engineer
A few months ago Mick Watson wrote an awesome post about How to recruit a good bioinformatician. We’re in the process of hiring a scientific software engineer so I thought I’d use Mick’s post to illustrate why you should come work with us doing scientific software development and data-intensive research, and hopefully provide a concrete […]
12:58 PM | Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Aphid Interactions
Genetically based color variation in four green peach aphid clonesBringing hundreds of paper bags stuffed with aphid-infested plants inside our lab was a very bad idea. Thus began the aphid infestation. All the lab benches, pipettes, centrifuges, computers, everything, were crawling with aphids seeking a new host. Winged aphids swarmed around the lights and windows, and all the molecular-based work my lab mates were doing came to a halt.Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae)This was the aftermath […]
11:32 AM | How not to start your next ecology or evolution talk (UPDATED)
The beginning of a scientific talk should grab the audience’s attention. Or rather, hold the audience’s attention, since ordinarily you have the audience’s attention when you start talking. How do you do that? Here are some common pitfalls to avoid, … Continue reading →
9:23 AM | The moral of the story
Most of us have some inbuilt sense of right and wrong; don’t steal and don’t murder are as basic to us as our ability to breathe. But where does this sense moral sense come from? In general, people of a scientific bent don’t attribute it to God nor as some sort of free floating truth that can be grasped by the human intellect. If you hold a materialistic view, that is to say the idea that at base the universe is composed of energy and matter, then it’s next to impossible […]

April 26, 2015

11:39 PM | Outbreak: Cancer of the clam
Cancer is not supposed to be a cold; it’s not supposed contagious. It may metastasize and spread from your face to your lungs, but I can’t catch it from you. For humans cancer isn’t contagious; for clams it is. The clam, Mya arenaria, is the famous ‘fried clam’, a staple of clam shacks all along New … Continue reading Outbreak: Cancer of the clam →
5:00 PM | On Joining the Lab (Boat)
Some people go from early life to death focused on one mystery. This approach, I am told, can be very satisfying. One of my mentors, Carl Rettenmeyer, spent his entire professional life studying the animals that live with army ants. In this endeavor Carl found enough rewards and mystery to sustain another dozen lives. Yet while I appreciate (at least in an abstract sense) the fruits of such an approach, it is not for me. My greatest scientific joys come instead from making connections across […]
1:00 PM | In the Future, Will We Build Cities for Wildlife and Design the Countryside for People?
Cities have long been known as hotspots for innovation. In the past, much of this could be attributed to cities being the centralised physical location of businesses, investors, consumers, markets, and places of learning, and as nodes for connecting with other people and cities around the world. Yet in the new era of global communication, … Continue reading In the Future, Will We Build Cities for Wildlife and Design the Countryside for People? →
12:09 PM | Reflections after Earth Day 2015
Every year, I will write about Earth Day, my reflections and review my record book. Just a few nights ago, into the last 5 mins of Earth Day this year, I saw a Facebook post by Agatha (Green Issues by Agy), one of our active makers of Maker Faire Singapore. She said, “Let’s make every… Continue reading »

April 25, 2015

5:24 PM | Changes in plant species composition of coastal dune over 20-years
Coastal sandy ecosystems are increasingly being threatened by human pressure, causing loss of biodiversity, habitat degradation and landscape modifications. Continue reading →
1:00 PM | Top Ten Reasons Earth Month is for the Animals
Here are ten of the biggest threats that are causing animal populations to decline

April 24, 2015

10:44 PM | Chemicals at work taking their breath away: work-related asthma
A Massachusetts company that manufacturers industrial floatation devices for the off-shore oil/gas industry exposed its workers to toxic dust. Nine cases of work-related asthma among its employees were reported to the state health department.
3:00 PM | Clonal conundrum, part deux
In the second installment of the clonal conundrum, one hallmark of clonality is one that surprisingly hasn’t been validated that many times using species that have both sexually and asexually reproducing populations. Theoretically, clonal reproduction should generate massive … Heterozygote excess … Continue reading →
2:43 PM | Compte à rebours des animaux qui ont de mauvaises cachettes
Découvrez ce compte à rebours des animaux qui ont de mauvaises cachettes
12:26 PM | Photo of the Week – April 24, 2015
The aesthetic values of prairie are more subtle than those in many other ecosystems.  There is much beauty to be found, but you sometimes have to look for it – it doesn’t often rise up and slap you in the … Continue reading →
12:00 PM | Recommended Reads #51
Apparently, your paper will get more attention if it is published on hump day. This story from last year explains how the Mathematics program at King Abdulaziz University shot from unranked to #7 in the US News global rankings. What they did is pay a full salary to some of the most heavily published professors…
11:09 AM | Friday links: women and STEM awards, grant review is not a crapshoot, and more
Also this week: underwater thesis defense (yes, really), database-defeating data (yes, really), why scientific papers should be longer (yes, arguably), how penguins ruined nature documentaries, and more. Including this week’s musical guest, They Might Be Giants! From Meg: There are … Continue reading →
8:13 AM | Zoological Zodiac
Aries- March 20 to April 20. Your model will converge around the 13th, which is in no way related to your model convergence dance (turning in a circle three times and raising your left hand twice).  Please stop doing it, we can all see you. Taurus- April 20 to May 21. A reviewer will suggest additional work prior to publication. Reply to the reviewer with an audio file of yourself singing Bruce Springsteen’s No Surrender and the reviewer will back down. Gemini- May 21 to June 21. May […]

April 23, 2015

7:11 PM | Categories in Control
To understand ecosystems, ultimately will be to understand networks. – B. C. Patten and M. Witkamp A while back I decided one way to apply my math skills to help save the planet was to start pushing toward green mathematics: a kind of mathematics that can interact with biology and ecology just as fruitfully as […]
4:54 PM | Beetles from the North
I’m super-excited to announce new research from the lab, published yesterday with lead author Dr. Crystal Ernst. Crystal’s paper focused on taxonomic and functional diversity of beetles across 12 sites in northern Canada, ranging from Labrador to the Yukon Territory, and from the bottom of James Bay all the way up to the tip of […]
2:44 PM | All models all wrong, but which are useful for understanding the effect of nestedness on plant-pollinator dynamics?
A guest post by Gita Benadi and Jochen Fründ Mutualistic networks have become an increasingly popular way of describing mutually beneficial interactions between species-rich communities, for example those between plants and their pollinators. Besides offering a nice method of visualizing these interactions, networks are also used to make inferences about the relationship between interaction structure…
2:00 PM | Procrustes Analyses in R
Procrustes transformations (i.e. a form of multidimensional scaling that allows the comparison of two data sets) have been used extensively in recent literature to assess the similarity of geographical and genetic distributions of species, following the lead of Wang et … Continue reading →
1:57 PM | Chance and direction in research
[This is post by Jessica Abbott.]Since Andrew Hendry was kind enough to write a guest post about his career path to date, I was invited to return the favour. As with most researchers I know, my career path has been considerably influenced by chance events. In fact, now that I think about it, you can see this effect pretty much as far back you want to go. Andrew started his story with his MSc work, but I’ve decided to put a bit more focus on the things that got me started on the road to […]
12:00 PM | Will work for food: How volunteer “opportunities” exploit early-career scientists
This is a guest post by Susan Letcher, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Purchase College in New York. A recent job posting at Cocha Cashu caught my eye: What: Co-Instructor for the Third Annual Course in Field Techniques and Tropical Ecology Where: Cocha Cashu Biological Station, Manu National Park, Peru When: September 1 (arrive…
12:00 PM | Two Species of Cottonmouths? This Scientist Says Yes!
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Burbrink, F. T. & Guiher, T. J. (2015). Considering gene flow when using coalescent methods to delimit lineages of North American pitvipers of the genus Agkistrodon, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 173 (2) 505-526.

11:59 AM | Spotlight on Russia: The Siberian Tiger
If you ask someone to tell you where tigers come from, chances are they won't think of Russia. This is a great shame, since Russia is home to the majestic Siberian, or Amur, tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. altaica).There are, in total, only around 520 Siberian tigers left in the wild. Of these, around 20 live in arboreal habitats along China's border with Russia. The other 500 (an optimistic estimate) live in Primorsky Krai and southern Khabarovsky Krai in the Russian Far East (see map below).Range […]
10:30 AM | Important information for lab undergrads
When I first started at Georgia Tech, someone recommended to me that I do an orientation with all new members of the lab, where I went over basic information. This was a really good suggestion (even if I can no … Continue reading →
7:08 AM | Beatboxing birdsongs of New York
SUMMARY: In these fascinating videos, we see how one man’s quest to merge two passions — bird watching and beatbox music – has created an experimental new form of music I love beatboxing, but as an ornithologist and birder, I … Continue reading →

April 22, 2015

11:20 PM | What’s the Best Time to Burn?
As I mentioned last week, prescribed fire can help meet many prairie management objectives.  It’s important, however, to match the timing of the burn to those objectives in order to avoid conducting a fire that is either unproductive or counterproductive.  … Continue reading →
11:20 PM | The future ecology of stock traders
I am beyond fascinated by the interactions between competing intelligences that exist in the stock market. It is a bizarre mishmash of humans, AIs, and both (cyborgpeople?). One recent strategy that exploits this interaction is ‘spoofing‘. The description from the … Continue reading →
10:00 PM | #EarthDayThanks and Earth Day Resolutions
Some truth about me as a person?  I'm horrible at New Years resolutions.  Don't get me wrong, I love them.  I plan them.  I hoard them, coming up with way too many and getting overly excited about all of them.  I make lists, and timelines, and mini-goals.  Unfortunately, it seems the outcome 98% of the time is a few months of triumphant, self-improving activity, followed by a slow shift back into my normal pattern of existence.  But, over the past 5 years, […]
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