This is a series of posts entitled “Reflections on the Past”, a series by Hari Sridhar.
“In 1998, James Estes, Tim Tinker, Terrie Williams and Dan Doak published a paper in Science providing evidence to suggest that killer whales were behind the sudden declines in sea otter populations in western Alaska in the 1990s. Estes and colleagues also showed in this paper that the otter decline had, in turn, led to an increase in sea urchin numbers and consequent deforestation of kelp forests. Eighteen years after the paper was published, I spoke to James Estes about the observations that motivated this study and what we have learnt since about the killer whale’s role in this system.”
Posts in this series are archived at reflectionsonpaperspast.wordpress.com.
Migration bottlenecks provide researchers with fascinating opportunities to study animal movement ecology. Advances in technology enable the dissemination of migratory ground-speed data in relation to independent variables such as weather conditions and time of day. I spent a week in the region of Calabria, Italy monitoring raptor migrations over the Strait of Messina bottleneck. In a single field day over 1,382 migratory raptors were counted; approximately 80% of these were European Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus). This post identifies Europe’s most important migratory raptor bottlenecks and highlights the threats facing migratory avifauna.
I teach only half of the course material on theoretical ecology, and allow the other half to be discovered and learnt by students on their own via various group activities.
If you’re a grad student who has wondered if your ecology Ph.D. will be useful outside of academia, check out these lessons learned after a summer in Washington, D.C.! Ecologists interested in the types of science policy opportunities for our field will want to check out these lessons as well.
The paradigm in fieldwork of travelling to remote locations, extracting data, and leaving to publish findings without engaging with local communities – particularly Indigenous ones – must be challenged. As students on a long term research project, we distributed a survey to better understand what local people wanted from us. Community engagement needs to be more than purely research-focused initiatives, and engagement with Indigenous peoples can require specific and separate efforts.
No spoilers here. The villain in The Avengers: Infinity War understands ecology pretty well and we should consider his motivation as an ecologist. We need to talk a lot more about how to slow population growth.
The lag that many graduate students experience between gathering feedback on their ideas and publishing leaves them vulnerable the unethical tactics of scooping “hawks”. How much do we need to worry about this? Game theory can help us decide.