March 16, 2015

11:01 AM | Recent ecology & evolution papers I thought were really good
A while back we asked y’all what changes you’d like to see us make to the blog. One suggestion was “posts highlighting recently-published papers”. I responded that I wasn’t super-motivated to write such posts. Lots of people and organizations already … Continue reading →
10:11 AM | Why collecting Long Term Ecological Data is not cool enough for funding agencies?
Most of my papers include in one way or another a sentence apologising for not having long term data, and excusing myself for using either a snapshot of whatever happens in a given year, or using long term data that is … Continue reading →
9:57 AM | Coral reefs: secret cities of the sea | @GrrlScientist
In today’s “Museum Monday” video, we watch a time-lapse as a coral reef aquarium is set up in the Natural History Museum’s Jerwood Gallery. This aquarium will be featured in their upcoming exhibition where the public can learn about the importance of marine coral reef communities.As a lifelong fish keeper and aquascaper, my love for tropical fishes strongly influenced my love for the sciences. As a young child, my aquarium was one of my inspirations: the water test kit […]
9:54 AM | A Neutral Theory for Interpreting Correlations between Species and Genetic Diversity in Communities
Laroche et al. The American Naturalist 185(1): 59-69. A Neutral Theory for Interpreting Correlations between Species and Genetic Diversity in Communities Oh the dangers of picking a paper because you like the keywords and finding them cooked in a different way to you had imagined in your head. I have a slow-burning interest in how thinking […]
9:43 AM | War of the Words – The Conflict between Science and Journalism, Part 2
In a previous post I outlined some potential areas of conflict between scientists and the journalists who are reporting on research. Here I want to continue my look at this relationship. First off let’s start by looking at some surprising results from the social science literature which show that more often than not scientific findings are accurately reported. One study by Peters et al. (2008) reported, “interactions between scientists and journalists are more frequent and smooth […]
9:38 AM | The Plight of the Orangutan: Great Apes Heading Toward Extinction
There are two species of orangutan and both are endangered. The Sumatran orangutan Pongo abelii is the most critically endangered of the two, and is given the status 'Critically Endangered' by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The other orangutan species, the Bornean orangutan Pongo pygmaeus, is slightly less endangered, but is nonetheless considered 'Endangered' by the IUCN.Since the two species belong to two distinct districts, namely Sumatra and Borneo, this article will deal with the […]
9:33 AM | A brief history of Electricity
By Yong Jian-Yi who is a Science Educator at Science Centre Singapore. Electricity has long been a subject of fascination in human history. The most common natural observation of it is lightning, however the link between the two was not apparent until Benjamin Franklin performed his classical experiment by flying a kite into a thunderstorm. The… Continue reading »

March 15, 2015

11:00 PM | Extinction of Experience: Does it Matter?
Right after I graduated from Cornell, I took off for the North Cascades wilderness. First as a student and later an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, I spent summers in Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, ice climbing out of crevasses, backpacking through Pacific Northwest old growth forests, and scaling ancient volcanoes. For me, this was … Continue reading Extinction of Experience: Does it Matter? →
2:52 PM | Climate change: UN backs fossil fuel divestment campaign
Framework convention on climate change says it shares aim for strong deal on fighting global warming at Paris summit The UN organisation in charge of global climate change negotiations is backing the fast-growing campaign persuading investors to… “Everything we do … Continue reading →
2:22 PM | Manuscript necromancy: challenges of raising the dead
If you’ve been doing research for any length of time, you probably have data that aren’t doing anything but taking up space on your hard drive.  Stick around a little longer, and you’ll eventually have entire projects with half-written (or … Continue reading →
2:56 AM | Deforestation in Myanmar threatens biodiversity and communities
Myanmar’s government has allocated at least 5.2 million acres forestland and identified a further 11 million acres of some of Southeast Asia’s "last remaining biodiversity rich forests" as suitable to be cleared for private agribusiness projects, according to the report published Thursday by Forest Trends, a forest conservation organization. Continue reading →
2:49 AM | Unlike Temperatures, Climate Change Deniers Are Falling Fast
Climate-change deniersd will persist as long as there is oil in the ground. Continue reading →

March 14, 2015

7:25 PM | Anticipation
It’s been a long winter but it’s ending quickly. March brings anticipation in this part of the world. This past week was a reminder of that, and we saw temperatures above freezing for several days in a row. The ‘big melt’ has started… dozens of tiny trickles have appeared beside roads, guided by gravity. I […]
1:17 PM | Top Ten Coolest Animal Feet
Check out this top ten to discover animals with some of the coolest feet!
12:25 PM | Why do pet parrots mimic people? | @GrrlScientist
Since today is “Caturday”, I had to share some videos of one of my favourite birds in the world, the diminutive budgerigar named Disco. And because Disco is such a talented mimic, this gives me the opportunity to share the evolutionary reasons why pet parrots mimic people.Since today is “Caturday”, I had to share some videos of one of my favourite birds in the world, the diminutive budgerigar named Disco. Disco lives in western New York with his family, which includes […]
3:33 AM | Mating systems
In a new paper, published online in Molecular Ecology, Pannell (2015) reviews the literature on the evolution of mating systems and dispersal in colonizing species as component of a special issue called Invasion Genetics: The Baker and Stebbins Legacy.  This issue is … Continue reading →

March 13, 2015

4:39 PM | These urban farmers want to feed the whole neighborhood — for free
“The Beacon Food Forest is giving away dozens of strawberry plants. For free. “For now, the cooperative food forestry idea is at least spreading like those strawberry plants, thanks in part to the BFF’s focus on education. In addition to monthly work … Continue reading →
3:08 PM | Caution, Wildlife Corridor Ahead!
Parks Canada is helping animals get around their habitat more safely by building human-made crossing corridors
3:08 PM | Attention, passage pour animaux droit devant!
Parcs Canada aide les animaux à se déplacer de façon plus sécuritaire dans leur habitat en aménageant des passages pour animaux
3:04 PM | Quantum Superposition
guest post by Piotr Migdał In this blog post I will introduce some basics of quantum mechanics, with the emphasis on why a particle being in a few places at once behaves measurably differently from a particle whose position we just don’t know. It’s a kind of continuation of the “Quantum Network Theory” series (Part […]
12:44 PM | Plant clinics help improve yields in Machakos, Kenya
“Approximately 300 farmer-self help groups from Machakos County and its environs under the Katoloni community-based organization have registered improved crop yields in the last one year due to high levels of sensitization on crop pest and diseases at plant clinics in the region,” writes Maugo Owiti of In the article, Pius Ndaka, a farmer […]
12:00 PM | Recommended reads #48
Allen Orr wrote a masterful review of DS Wilson’s latest book on the evolution of altruism. Jeremiah Ory has some spectacular advice non-advice for managing dual careers. Quiz: Did a computer or a human write this? How Eric Grollman came out of the liberal arts closet. My 11-year old son Bruce just told me about the…
11:57 AM | Friday links: weak inference in ecology, the Ambiguous Pazuma, you vs. lunch, and more (UPDATED)
Also this week: Mammal March Madness, replicating a hoax, in praise of tough questions, good writing in action (literally), Deborah Mayo on banning statistical inference, Meg’s shoes, and more. Even Brian read the internet this week! From Brian (!): Anybody … Continue reading →
11:47 AM | New books party: books that arrived recently | @GrrlScientist
This week’s books include three scholarly works: one examines the language of science and how it changed from Latin to English; another probes the rise of online universities; and a third discusses the use of Victorian fairy-tales to communicate science to public.Scientific Babel: The language of science from the fall of Latin to the rise of English by Professor Michael Gordin [432 pages, Profile Books, 2015; Guardian Bookshop; Amazon UK hardcover/paperback/Kindle UK; Amazon US […]
9:26 AM | Image of the Week: Smartphone Microscope
Originally posted on Wellcome Trust Blog:2015 is the UN’s International Year of Light, and to celebrate, the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University is launching a smartphone microscope competition for students. ‘Enlightenment: Build it, See it, Show it’ aims to get schoolchildren across Scotland building their own microscopes from kits,…
8:25 AM | Do you speak Yamnaya?
I bet you do! One nice non-biological thing you can do with phylogenetics (unlike beers) is study the evolution of languages. If you aren’t familiar with evolutionary linguistics, it’s basically the same principles that we use to study the descent with modification of organisms but applied to words. Even though words do not evolve in a biological way, we can still apply similar phylogenetic principles by just adjusting the evolutionary models. OK but let’s go back to my […]
6:20 AM | How photosynthesis is inspiring solar power research
SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? The impacts that people have upon the global environment has been a concern to scientists for more than 100 years. These impacts are due, in large part, to the fuels we use. To […]

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Cogdell R.J., P. I. Molina & L. Cronin (2013). The use and misuse of photosynthesis in the quest for novel methods to harness solar energy to make fuel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371 (1996) 20110603-20110603. DOI:


March 12, 2015

7:11 PM | Glimmer of hope for beleaguered Chemical Safety Board
After four hours of testimony on retaliation against employees, abuse of power and more, there was a glimmer of hope from new leadership at the Chemical Safety Board.
6:07 PM | How ignorance and indifference are contributing to climate change
Similar stories of human ignorance and developer disdain for nature are repeated for rivers, lakes, valleys, villages, cities, and nations around the world. Continue reading →
5:33 PM | Help locate the coughing frog!
You may have heard of a newly described species of leopard frog, the Atlantic Coast leopard frog (Rana kauffeldi) — also known as the coughing frog (main image, above). The chief zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program, Dr. Matthew Schlesinger, has organized efforts to learn more about the range of this newly described frog species with the support of a Regional Conservation Needs grant. Where is this coughing frog and when can I find it? The map of where […]
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