New ideas

Must-read: on ordinary language vs. scientific understanding

One of my pet themes on the Oikos blog is how subtle scientific errors can arise from using ordinary words to describe technical concepts (e.g., see here , here [especially the comments], and the last item on this list ). Here's a lovely passage on this, from physicist...

Maybe we need even more stability concepts!

p.s. to the previous post : Commenter Christopher Eliot (indirectly) makes the important point that all those stability concepts related to equilibria and other attractors assume that whatever system you're studying can be described by a model with unchanging structure...

From the archives: bandwagons in ecology

What are some of the biggest bandwagons in ecology right now? Why do some research topics turn into bandwagons, while others don't? How do you tell a bandwagon from a non-bandwagon? Can a bandwagon be stopped? For the answers, check out this old post .

An important but little known fact about compensatory dynamics

Many ecologists expect competing species to exhibit compensatory dynamics, meaning that the densities of any two competing species should be negatively correlated over time or across space. If your competitor increases in abundance, you ought to decline, right? After...

On the use and care of mathematical models

A wonderful passage from Simon Levin (1975) : Most models which find their way into the pages of journals such as this one are not meant as literal descriptions of particular situations, and thus generate predictions which are not to be tested against precise...

Crowdfunding science: the future?

Round 2 of the SciFund Challenge is now live. This is a crowdfunding initiative in which dozens of scientists get money to support their research by appealing for small donations directly from the public. Here's an old Oikos blog guest post from one of the SciFund...

Is ecology becoming too collaborative?

Is it just me, or is everyone overcommitting to too many collaborative projects lately? Everybody likes to collaborate these days. It's easier to do these days, and the culture of ecology values it highly. And frankly, everyone sees it as a way to get their names on a...

Is 'synthesis ecology' a distinct scientific discipline?

Over at I'm a Chordata! Urochordata!, Jarrett Byrnes asks whether 'synthesis ecology' is a distinct scientific discipline . Interesting question, on which even current and former NCEAS postdocs can't agree on an answer (not surprisingly, since if it is a discipline it'...

A key problem in interpreting observational data (UPDATEDx2)

I'm a bit late on this, but I just found this very nice blog post from Bob O'Hara on a little-recognized (at least in ecology) problem in interpreting observational data: "errors in variables". That is, for whatever reason, there's random error in the values of your...

Yes, IDH zombies are still worth worrying about (UPDATED)

Via Twitter, Nate Hough-Snee asks whether zombie ideas about the IDH are actually taught any more, and suggests that the idea that the IDH is still popular is itself a zombie idea. That's a question I've asked myself about another zombie. But I was wrong . And in this...

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