Posts

August 20, 2014

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4:20 PM | Evolution 2014, watch the talks!
I am really behind on this, but there is a spreadsheet with videos of most (?) of the talks from the Evolution 2014 conference. Here are the talks that are relevant to the interests of the blog: Flexible decision-making in a variable … Continue reading →
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1:50 PM | Update: New Pest & Disease Records (20 Aug 14)
We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include 2 new phytoplasma species infecting apple trees in Iran,  the first report of Colletotrichum asianum causing anthracnose on Willard mangoes in Sri Lanka and the first report of Groundnut ringspot virus in cucumber fruits in Brazil. Click […]
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1:41 PM | Poll: What should a community ecology class cover?
This fall I will be teaching a graduate-level community ecology class for the first time. Most people would say that community ecology is one of the five or so main subdisciplines of ecology along with physiological ecology, population ecology, ecosystem … Continue reading →
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1:01 PM | A Special Volunteer
Volunteers are a critical part of our stewardship work at the Platte River Prairies.  We don’t have a lot of them, but we’ve been lucky to have some great ones.  All of our volunteers are appreciated, but we have special … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Pikas on Ice
Adorable and fuzzy, American pikas (Ochotona princeps) have become the spokes-critter for the consequences of climate change in alpine areas. These little fuzzballs, more closely related to rabbits than rodents, are specialized for living on the rocky slopes of mountains. They’re very sensitive to hot summer temperatures, and so, as temperatures are predicted to rise, pikas face a perilous future. Researcher Jennifer Wilkening from the University of Colorado is concerned about the future […]
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10:48 AM | Wordless Wednesday August 20
Tagged: forest, moss, nature, photography, Wordless Wednesday
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9:36 AM | Wood production in mixed species forests
Our latest paper aiming to untangle the mechanisms behind diversity-productivity relationships in forests has just been published in Journal of Ecology. Working in Mediterranean mixed forests in Spain, we find that complementary use of canopy space by oak and pine species means that mixtures of these two functional groups produce around 50% more wood each […]

August 19, 2014

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8:49 PM | New study finds link between mass job losses and teen suicide behaviors
Previous research has documented a link between downturns in the economy and suicide among adults. But how do those downturns ripple throughout families and communities, and in particular, how do massive job losses affect the mental health of teens? A new study has found that, sadly, many teens are not immune to the stress of a struggling economy.
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8:48 PM | A new semester of Plants and People approacheth
Starting in September, I will be resuming my TAing duties for the UBC class BIOL 343: Plants and People, this time co-taught by Profs. Shona Ellis and Kathryn Zeiler. Hopefully that means more juicy ethnobotany nuggets on the horizon, gentle … Continue reading →
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8:11 PM | You can evolve there from here. And from here. And here …
If evolutionary history somehow reverted back to the “warm little pond” in which life began, and started over from almost-scratch, would the re-diversification of life end up, four billion years later, pretty much as we see it today? I think … Continue reading →
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6:30 PM | Missive from ESA2014: BBB – Better Biodiversity Business?
Paraphrasing Jill Baron, ESA President, we, as ecologists, might all feel a … certain way about oil companies, but then . . .
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3:57 PM | “…a garden opposite the Half Dome”
The good old pioneer, Lamon, was the first of all the early Yosemite settlers who cordially and unreservedly adopted the Valley as his home. He was born in the Shenandoah Valley…emigrated to Illinois…afterwards went to Texas and settled on the … Continue reading →
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12:45 PM | Behind the Science: Painting ants and cracking acorns
Stepping into the lab last week, you would have no idea that the summer — for our undergraduates, at least — is winding to an end and that the academic school year is about to start. Last Tuesday I found Joe Karlik and Hanna Moxley, both rising seniors, busy running research trials and starting new experiments in the lab. Joe Karlik has been trying to figure out why Temnothorax curvispinosus (also known as acorn ants) often stick their larvae and pupae, known as “brood,” […]
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11:52 AM | Notes and impressions from the ESA meeting
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. … Continue reading →
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10:07 AM | The amazing world of flyingfish by Steve Howell – review
SUMMARY: 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 it’s 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 there’s a field guide for absolutely every group of anything you can find on the planet -- birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, […]
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9:23 AM | More ways of living on a bush than on a bluebell
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 […]
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3:28 AM | The Story of Jerusalem’s Railway Park: Getting the City Back on Track, Economically, Environmentally and Socially
Sharing local experience is always important. However in the case of the Jerusalem Railway Park, both the process and the outcome have the level of universal relevance that make so many of the themes presented in “The Nature of Cities” … Continue reading →
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1:30 AM | “Alcohol was the weapon of choice for these men”: Peer groups may be key to stopping campus rape
Some men think it's okay to rape if they do it by getting their victims too drunk to offer much resistance. Can their peers change such behavior by speaking up?
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1:10 AM | High Risk of Major Iceland Volcano Eruption, Aviation Sector Warned
Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010, affecting millions of people. Credit: REUTERS/Lucas JacksonIceland's Met Office has raised Bardarbunga's eruption risk level to orange. This means that a volcanic eruption is possible, and is the fourth highest risk level. The fifth and final level, color-coded red, would indicate that an eruption is imminent, or that it had occurred. Also spelled Bárðarbunga, the volcano is larger than Eyjafjallajökull, a small ice cap, which […]

August 18, 2014

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3:44 PM | Is Popper responsible for this mess?
OK, admittedly this is a bit of a weird post, but otherwise I’d have to be actually working. It’s just a question post really, because admittedly I’ve read very little of Karl Popper’s writings, and whatever little that was, it … Continue reading →
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3:24 PM | Monday Open Question: What do neuroscientists know that the average person doesn’t?
Science helps us explain the world, often in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to from every day experience. What is it that we know about ourselves and our nervous system that most people don’t realize? Specifically, what aspect of … Continue reading →
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12:00 PM | Why I teach on the first day of class
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…
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11:33 AM | The amazing world of flyingfish by Steve NG Howell | review | @GrrlScientist
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, […]
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11:29 AM | Book review: Experimental Evolution and the Nature of Biodiversity by Rees Kassen
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 … Continue reading →
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9:00 AM | How do you envisage the new Science Centre Singapore to be?
Re-imagining Jurong – That’s the title of Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s blogpost explaining Jurong’s transformation since Singapore’s industrialisation days and the impending transformation described by PM Lee during the National Day Rally on 17 August. Of particular interest to us at Science Centre Singapore (SCS) would be the announcement about the new Science Centre being… Continue reading »
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6:07 AM | El Nino Project (Part 7)
So, we’ve seen that Ludescher et al have a way to predict El Niños. But there’s something a bit funny: their definition of El Niño is not the standard one! Precisely defining a complicated climate phenomenon like El Niño is a tricky business. Lots of different things tend to happen when an El Niño occurs. […]

August 17, 2014

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7:41 PM | Wind Turbines Pose Risk to Bats
The Drive for Green Energy We need sustainable, affordable and clean energy production to fuel the economy, and the drive towards more environmentally friendly energy production versus coal and peat burning energy production has seen a large number of wind … Continue reading →

Lehnert LS, Kramer-Schadt S, Schönborn S, Lindecke O, Niermann I & Voigt CC (2014). Wind farm facilities in Germany kill noctule bats from near and far., PloS one, 9 (8) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25118805

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5:22 PM | Zebra finches go mad with mercury, and other animal updates
Wild ThingsAnimals by Sarah Zielinski 1:26pm, August 17, 2014 A study of zebra finches found that the birds get hyperactive when exposed to toxic mercury.Julie anne Johnson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)PRINCETON, N.J. — I spent this week at the Animal Behavior Society meeting at Princeton University, which, when you're an animal blogger, is something like releasing a kid in a candy store. […]
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3:14 PM | Promiscuity Breeds Efficiency: Mouse Mating Systems Affect Sperm Sprints
Sperm is constant joke-fodder. From the opening credits of the movie "Look Who's Talking" to various Shakespeare passages, we humans never seem to tire of laughing at hordes of competitive little sperm powering past each other in the race towards their final destination. They're unbelievably tiny, simple entities, and yet the outcome of their performance is huge. Or perhaps we just stay fascinated by the dramatic fact that all of our lives began when one of […]
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4:00 AM | The use of Twitter at ESA and IMCC
August is conference season. But for the last few years, not being able to attend does not mean that you can’t partake in the global discussion, as more and more scientific meetings have been using twitter hashtags to keep the discussion going online. Being both a fervent twitter user, and interested in all things networks, I decided to explore the assembly of the graph of interactions among scientists over time. A bunch of us are doing a more formal analysis of the Ecological Society of […]
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