Don’t forget the details! Trait ecology and generality

The search for generality is perhaps the greatest driver of modern ecology and probably also the greatest source of ecological angst. Though ecological trends frequently reflect the newest, brightest hope for generality, the search for generality (perhaps by definition) encourages us to ignored details and complexities. Maybe this means that some areas of study won't develop fully until they've fallen out of fashion. And maybe this means that the most interesting science happens when the…

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The EEB & Flow 2018-04-04 09:08:00

Guest post by Louis Vassos, MEnvSci Candidate in the Professional Masters of Environmental Science program at the University of Toronto-ScarboroughMuch like the Buggles’ 1980 debut album, our material preferences are well within the age of plastic. Thanks to its light weight, durability, inertness, and low manufacturing costs, our use of plastics has increased dramatically since the mid-20th century. From bottles and toys to car parts and electronics, there is seemingly no application beyond its reach. Despite…

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The problematic charismatics: Are loveable invasives getting a free pass?

Guest post by Will Brown, MEnvSci Candidate in the Professional Masters of Environmental Science program at the University of Toronto-Scarborough In the world of animal conservation, charismatic wildlife - those loveable, huggable species like giant pandas or koalas - take centre stage. They’re the kinds of animals you see dominating news stories, books, and movies, with less-attractive species often falling by the wayside. The concept of charismatic species is tied closely to animal conservation and protection.…

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Don’t be Ranunculus… Little known plant behaviours

Guest post by Agneta Szabo, MEnvSci Candidate in the Professional Masters of Environmental Science program at the University of Toronto-ScarboroughThrough the scientific study of plant behaviour, we continue to discover new ways in which plants interact with their environment in animal-like ways. Words like “listening”, “foraging”, and “parenting” may seem odd to associate with plants, and yet plants show evidence of all of these behaviours. Here are some of the many ways in which plants behave.…

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Gained in translation: translational ecology for the Anthropocene

A recent evaluation of the state of science around the world run by 3M found that 86% of the 14,000 people surveyed believed that they knew 'little to nothing' about science. 1/3 of all respondents also said they were skeptical of science and 20% went farther, saying that they mistrust scientists and their claims. Those attitudes wouldn't surprise anyone following US politics these days. But they're still troubling statistics for ecologists. Perhaps more than most…

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The Gender-Biased Scientist: Women in Science

Guest post by Maika Seki, MEnvSci Candidate in the Professional Masters of Environmental Science program at the University of Toronto-ScarboroughIn November of 2017, Nature Ecology & Evolution published “100 articles every ecologist should read” by Courchamp and Bradshaw, sparking a social media outrage. Rightfully so, because the list of first authors only included two women. There remains a pervasive perception that women lack the skills to practice science, and that there simply are not enough women…

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Moving on up to the regional scale

Like the blind men and the elephant, perspective drives understanding in ecology. The temporal and spatial scale of analysis (let alone the system and species you focus on) has major implications for your conclusions. Most ecologists recognize this fact, but consider only particular systems, scales or contexts due to practical limitations (funding, reasonable experimental time frames, studentship lengths). Ecologists have long known that regional processes affect local communities and that local processes affect regional patterns. Entire…

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A general expectation for the paradox of coexistence

There are several popular approaches to the goal of finding generalities in ecology. One is essentially top down, searching for generalities across ecological patterns in multiple places and at multiple scales and then attempting to understand the underlying mechanisms (e.g. metabolic scaling theory and allometric approaches). Alternatively, the approach can be bottom up. It may consider multiple models or multiple individual mechanisms and find generalities in the patterns or relationships they predict. A great example of…

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Some of the best advice on the internet: several years of links

I started off the New Year with a much-needed bookmark reorganization and deletion, which also gave me a chance to re-read some of the links I've held onto (sometimes for years). There's an ever-increasing amount of useful content on the internet, but these have proven some of the most helpful, concrete, and lasting guides for navigating a scientific life.I thought I'd collate the list here with the hope others might find some of these useful.How…

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Holiday caRd 2017!

Here is this year's card, with best wishes from both of us at the EEB & Flow!It gets a little harder every year to figure these out. R's plotting capabilities improve every year, but usually via specialized packages. I've tried more and more to use as few additional packages beyond base, and to produce a script that is hopefully compatible across platforms.For best performance, users must install the 'deldir' package and the 'RCurl' package. This…

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