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Instrumental variables: the key to analyzing "natural experiments"?

Inferring causality is hard. Especially in a world where lots of factors, some of them unknown, causally affect the response variable of interest (and each other), and where there are causal feedbacks (mutual causation) between variables. It's even harder when, for...

Biggest week ever for the Oikos blog

Last week was the biggest week ever for the Oikos blog. No surprise, since I did a bunch of posting. But still: 3972 views, including 1124 syndicated views! That's 567 views/day for those of you scoring at home. It was also the biggest week ever just counting non-...

Another upcoming course on models in ecology

Friend of Oikos Blog Chris Klausmeier ("lowendtheory") writes with details of a series of one-week summer courses on Enhancing Linkages between Mathematics and Ecology (ELME), to be offered at Kellogg Biological Station (MI, USA). I know all the instructors, they're...

Must-read blog on the art of modeling

Amy Hurford, an ecology graduate student working a recent ecology PhD who worked with the brilliant Troy Day and Peter Taylor at Queen's University, has a new blog called Just Simple Enough: The Art of Mathematical Modelling . It's great stuff, you totally need to...

Models in ecology course to be offered

My northern neighbor Mark Lewis , Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Biology, will be offering a course on "Models in ecology" for advanced undergrads and grad students at Bamfield Marine Station . Marty Krkosek is the co-instructor. The course runs Apr. 30-May 18,...

What does R-squared mean?

Not "proportion of variance explained"! At least, that's not the most precise gloss. Nice discussion here . HT Jarrett Byrnes (via Twitter)

Mathematics and ecology survey

The International Network of Next-Generation Ecologists is surveying ecologists about their knowledge of mathematics and their views on how to incorporate mathematics into the training of ecologists. It's a short survey (it took me less than a minute), go take it here .

Must-read paper: how to make ANY statistical test come out "significant"

Just make all the usual judgment calls and conduct all the usual "exploratory" analyses that scientists conduct all the time! The linked paper is the best paper I've read in a long time. It's essential reading for everyone who does science, from undergraduates on up...

Should supervisors let student authors make mistakes? And should reviewers care?

Here's an issue which I've encountered occasionally as a referee over the years (though not recently, and not as a handling editor as far as I can recall). It concerns manuscripts for which a student is the lead author, and their supervisor is a co-author. Once in a...

The bright side of a zombie (ideas) apocalypse

One of my favorite comics asks whether we shouldn't just let the zombies win .

Want to cite the Oikos Blog? Here's how! (UPDATED)

My fellow editor Mark Vellend just emailed me with the fruits of his research on how to formally cite blog posts. While standards are still evolving and many ecology journals have no official policy, you can find guidance here and here . (UPDATE: second link fixed) The...

Advice: how to choose a PhD program (UPDATED)

Joan Strassman has a nice post at Sociobiology about how to choose a PhD program. I agree with most but not all of what she has to say. I don't agree that you just avoid M.Sc. programs if you think you might want a PhD. Unless you're sure you want a PhD, doing an MSc...

College vs. graduate school

Here . The diagram on the left is true. The diagram on the right isn't, but it often feels like it is.

Herding professor cats

I can't possibly comment on how true this is. HT Denim and Tweed .

Drilling down vs. scaling up

Biological Posteriors asks a good question: how far down the [mechanistic] rabbit hole should one go to get an answer to any question? For instance, if you want to understand plant distributions, do you need to study plant physiology? Or even plant biochemistry?...

Hedgerows and bees

A very nice reporting of the work by Jeff Ollerton forthcoming in Oikos. The newspaper is The Guardian and here is the link . The experimental test of the study is described very well near the end of the article. I will post a link to the Oikos article as soon as I get...

Advice: how to win the Buell and Braun awards at the ESA Annual Meeting

The Buell and Braun awards respectively to the best student talk and poster at the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. They're nice awards: besides the prestige, you get $500 plus travel reimbursement to the following year's meeting. To win the awards, the...

Postdoc in plant population ecology

Friend of Oikos Blog* Peter Adler and colleagues are seeking applicants for a postdoc in plant population ecology. The ad is below. Peter's a terrific plant population ecologist and this sounds like a neat project. In the past I've only posted job ads for myself and...

How international trade almost wiped out the North American bison

Economics, even ecological economics, isn't something I'd ordinarily write about on the Oikos Blog--it's not really the blog's purpose, and it's not something I'm really qualified to write about. But I'm making an exception to plug a very interesting exercise in...

Tenure-track position in theoretical/computational ecology

My fellow Oikos editor Andre de Roos passes on word that the University of Amsterdam is hiring a tenure-track theoretical/computational ecologist. Details here .

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