New ideas

Why (un)teaching ecology is hard

It's exam-marking time, the time of year when I'm reminded of just how difficult ecology is, both to teach and to learn. This is for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most challenging to overcome is that teaching or learning ecology properly often requires you to...

Neutral drift: this means War!

When teaching new concepts to undergraduates, it often helps to make an analogy to something from everyday life with which they're already familiar. Just the other day I was teaching neutral drift to ecology students, as part of a lecture on niches. I wanted to give...

Cool new method for detecting associations between variables in large datasets (UPDATEDx2)

Writing in Science this week, Reshef et al. present what looks like a very clever, powerful, and general method for detecting associations between variables in large (many variables) datasets. Statistician Andrew Gelman has a good write-up over at his blog, and the "...

On getting scooped in ecology

One of the things I like about being an ecologist is that I rarely have to worry about being scooped. Only once have I ever felt like I'd been beaten to a result, and in retrospect I really wasn't.* Only two other times have I ever been worried I might be beaten to a...

Advice: how to do meta-analysis in ecology vs. medicine

Too busy to do any substantive posting right now, so I'll just be tossing out some links. Bob O'Hara has an interesting post on how meta-analysis in ecology should be done differently than in medicine. He also thinks ecologists should be doing more meta-regressions,...

Species pools and the fallacy of composition (UPDATED)

A species pool is the set of all species that could potentially colonize some local site. Many important ideas in community ecology and biogeography start from assumptions about the species pool, and about dispersal from the species pool to the local site, and from...

Free idea for a provocative review paper: comparing 'selection' in evolution vs. ecology

Selection isn't just something that happens in evolution. Selection occurs whenever one type of organism, by virtue of its properties, leaves more descendants than another type of organism (actually, 'selection' isn't even limited to organisms, or to ancestor-...

Is Hutchinson's zombie idea about coexistence not a zombie after all?! (UPDATED)

Is Hutchinson’s zombie idea about coexistence not a zombie after all?! In my original zombie ideas post , I criticized three distinct theoretical claims about how disturbances and fluctuating environmental conditions can promote competitive coexistence. These claims...

Must reads: theoreticians explain themselves to empiricists

Great comment from "lowendtheory" on my post asking for eloquent statements of what it means to be a theorist. Points out two terrific articles--absolute must-reads : Writing for a highly-empirical ecological audience in The Auk in 1981, Simon Levin , one of the world'...

A blog about scientific blogging

Just found Science of Blogging , a blog about scientific blogging. Includes interviews with scientists who blog and use other forms of social media, discussions of interesting issues like blogging as a form of post-publication peer review, and links to blog posts of...

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