Category: Science

The Network Beneath Us: On the Discovery of Mycorrhizae and How They Shaped Our World

When plants made their foray onto land 460 million years ago, they weren’t alone; along with them evolved a new type of fungi, without which the first plants would likely not have survived. Fast forward to the present, and those same fungi now inhabit the roots of 80-90% of modern vascular land plants, offering nutrients in exchange for carbohydrates, with groups ranging from coveted truffles to species with newly discovered symbioses in the Mucoromycotina, previously thought to be only parasitic or saprophytic.

Lovers and fighters, and how their coexistence affects their evolution within an eco-evolutionary feedback loop

Eco-evolutionary dynamics are well studied but the term is applied to a wide variety of effects and interactions. Yet comparing these different types of studies on eco-evolutionary dynamics will inform on how this field can move forward, which is precisely the aim of a recent British Ecological Society cross-journal Special Feature. Here I discuss a study published within this Special Feature that investigates how an eco-evolutionary feedback loop between population dynamics and fighter expression affects the evolution of alternative reproductive tactics.

Scanning the Horizon of Ecological Research: A graduate student initiative

The current generation of graduate students are poised to become the leaders of their respective fields by the middle of the century. It is their ideas that will be of greatest influence in advancing the field of ecology in the decades to. So, what are their ideas? How do they think long-term research will provide new insights in 10, 20, 30 years? Maybe in 30 years we’ll find out our projections were wrong, but reflection won’t be possible if we don’t first scan the horizon.

Everything is a model

: All quantitative research methods are based on models. All statistical tests, all summary statistics, all raw data, and even our ideas are models. Failing to appreciate the ubiquity of models leads to misunderstanding the epistemology of science itself. Conversely, realizing that all science is an act in model building leads to more creative and robust inquiries, and, ultimately, better inference.