New ideas

From the archives: all the reasons why coexisting species should be similar rather than different

No time for any substantive posts for a little while, as I'm swamped with grant writing and teaching. So here's one of my favorite posts from the archives. It's about all the reasons why coexisting species should be similar to one another rather than (or in addition to...

More on changing your mind in science

A while back I asked what was the biggest scientific claim that you had changed your mind about ? At the time, I wasn't aware that hundreds of very prominent scientists had already answered a slightly broader version of this question in 2008 for the Edge website . I...

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...

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)

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...

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?...

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...

Getting over Robert MacArthur (UPDATEDx3)

The previous post referred to a philosophy talk about Robert MacArthur, his observations of feeding warblers, and the competition models which his warbler work helped inspire.The speaker apparently drew some general lessons about the conduct of ecological science from...

Statisticians, meet ecologists

Interesting discussion thread over at statistician Andrew Gelman's blog, about time series analysis of the lynx-hare cycle. Standard phenomenological statistical models (autoregressive moving average models) don't fit or predict these data all that well. Andrew links...

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