EcoBloggers

EcoBloggers is a feed of ecology blogs aggregated from around the web. If you write an Ecology blog (made up primarily of original posts by you or contributors), and you'd like to have it included here, email the feed link to the site webmaster. Each contributed post is trimmed to stay on the right side of copyright law and to encourage readers to click through to contributors' sites. You can get the RSS feed here. Each post is also automatically tweeted by @EcoBloggers.
• Ask Us Anything: how to move into ecology from another discipline

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 2 weeks ago

A while back we invited you to ask us anything. Here are our answers to our next question, from Andrew Krause: what is your advice for those from other disciplines who have an interest in ecology? Particularly those interested in pursuing interdisciplinary work.

Jeremy’s answer: As you said yourself in your linked comment, finding good collaborators is key. So is learning to write well for an audience of non-theoreticians. Steve Ellner has some advice on this, and his papers are great examples to follow. And it helps to be good at spotting analogies between disparate systems. For instance, spotting when a physics model can be reinterpreted as a biological model (...

• A cheap, self-published (but still excellent) ecology textbook: why not?

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 3 weeks ago

Note from Jeremy: this is a guest post from Mark Vellend.

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The textbook I use for my undergraduate class in plant ecology now costs about $150 (it used to cost <$100).  I was alerted to this by the instructor who will be teaching the class for the next couple of years (while I have a fellowship to focus on research), and it immediately got me thinking again about ecology textbooks (see old DE posts here and here).  I have never much liked 500+ page books whose weight (>2kg) immediately doubles the shoulder strain of my backpack.  And \$150 is an awful lot to more-or-less force students to...

• Guest post: a career as an ecologist at a non-profit conservation organization

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 3 weeks ago

Note from Jeremy: this is a guest post from Aaron Hall. Thank you very much to Aaron for taking the time to share his experience.

This post is part of our ongoing series on non-academic careers for ecologists. See here for links to previous posts in the series.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, what sort of ecology did you do in grad school, and what do you do now?

I am Aaron Hall, and I work for the non-profit Defenders of Wildlife. My job title is “Rockies and Plains Representative,” but functionally I am an aquatic ecologist. Defenders works to protect native species in native habitats, and focuses mostly on rare, threatened, and endangered species.

I have a bit of a varied past:...

• Is ecology a single coherent scientific discipline? (includes poll)

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 3 weeks ago

In order for a coherent scholarly discipline to exist, there has to be a critical mass of people who agree sufficiently on what questions members of the discipline should ask, how they should go about answering those questions, and about how to evaluate those questions and answers so as to distinguish better ones from worse ones. Obviously, not everybody is always going to agree on everything all the time, and if they ever did it would arguably be a sign of groupthink. Obviously, there’s scope for subdisciplines within a discipline–clusters of people who share a specialized interest that isn’t shared by the rest of the discipline. And obviously, there’s no clear bright line between sufficient agreement on the basics to have a scholarly discipline, and insufficient agreement–it’s a continuum. But we can point to examples to illustrate the extremes. Physics is a coherent scholarly discipline, with subdisciplines like particle physics, nuclear...

• Poll results: How mathy are ecology, evolution, and genetics?

via Meghan Duffy from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 3 weeks ago

Last week, I did a quick poll asking people how much math they think is involved in ecology, evolutionary biology, and genetics, and also how much math they use in their own research. What counts as a “moderate” or “substantial” amount of math is up for debate, of course. But I am most interested in the comparison between the three fields and, especially, in comparing the responses of DE readers with those of my intro bio students.

To give more explanation: it seems clear to me that undergrads are generally surprised by the amount of math that is in ecology. And, from talking with colleagues (here and elsewhere), it’s clear I’m not the only person who has the impression that college students do not expect ecology to involve math.

I’ve been thinking about how to try to address this with students. I want to try to...

• How much should you customize your faculty job application for each position?

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 3 weeks ago

Not all that much. You do need to do a bit of customization for each broad class of institutions to which you’re applying, but you don’t need to heavily customize your application for each individual institution. For details, read on.

Here’s how much customization I did, back when I was applying for faculty jobs regularly. I’ve been around a while and I’ve sat on search committees and spoken to colleagues, so I’m confident that what I did was, and remains, common in ecology. But please do chime in with your own comments.

I was applying to two types of institutions: research universities (mostly R1s and R2s), and selective liberal arts colleges. I used the same cv for both, but I had slightly different versions of the research and teaching statements and cover letter for each type of institution. I did little customization for individual institutions.

• My teaching statement for liberal arts colleges didn...
• Hardly any ecology faculty jobs are filled by internal candidates. And you can’t identify the ones that will be. (UPDATED)

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 3 weeks ago

If you’ve ever looked at the ecoevojobs.net faculty jobs board, you’ve probably seen speculation that position X has an internal candidate, the implication being that others maybe shouldn’t bother applying because the internal candidate will have an edge or even be a shoo-in. Sometimes, the speculation is not merely that a strong internal candidate exists, but that the position is intended for the internal candidate, so that the entire search is a formality with a pre-determined outcome.

But internal candidates have factors working against them as well as for them. As illustrated by the fact that they don’t always get the job–even when they’re confident they will! For instance, see here,...

• Last and corresponding authorship in ecology: a series of blog posts turns into a paper

via Meghan Duffy from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
1 month 4 weeks ago

My paper on last and corresponding authorship appeared in the journal Ecology & Evolution today. Normally I don’t plug my papers on the blog, but this one is different: this paper arose out of a poll and a series of blog posts on the site, so it seems appropriate to wrap things up with a quick post today.

I suppose it’s actually not quite accurate to say the paper arose out of a poll. Before that, I had a tweet storm as I thought through issues, and that, in turn, was motivated by needing to decide on author order for a manuscript. When I was at Georgia Tech, I was told that I should be last author on all papers coming out of my lab as a sign of having driven the work. But I have a paper from work I did as a grad student where I am the last author (with my advisor as a middle author) because I did the least work on the...

• Ask Us Anything: journal clubs for groups with diverse interests, and the questions we want to study but haven’t yet

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
2 months 4 hours ago

A while back we invited you to ask us anything. Here are our answers to our next two questions, from “lb”:

1. How do you make a good journal club for people working on different topics, ranging from social insects to plants?
2. What’s one question or idea you’ve always wanted to investigate but haven’t?

1. I suggest not reading technical papers about the topics the group members are working on. Instead read papers and blog posts about cross-cutting topics in which all group members are interested. The “replication crisis”, for instance, or how to write an “elevator pitch“. Or ...

via Jeremy Fox from Dynamic Ecology
Citation for this post:
2 months 1 day ago

A while back we invited you to ask us anything. Here are our answers to our next question, from an anonymous commenter: What do you do if your advisor has ongoing conflicts with other senior people in your field? Conflicts that you worry might limit your postdoctoral opportunities, and result in overly-negative reviews of papers co-authored with your advisor.

Brian: This happens. There are people with that kind of demeanor and reputation out there. And they do have graduate students. I guess my thoughts are:

1. Its more of a mixed bag than you think. If your adviser is in that much conflict, it probably means that they are at least a “big name” and that has lots of benefits to you even if people don’t personally like that “big name”. You will be exposed to many opportunities and many will by default assume you know how to do good science. You may get some harsher reviews but you might also get reviewed at a...