23rd Apr 2014

Blinded by scientific gobbledygook - How fake research journals are scamming the science community

"I have just written the world’s worst science research paper: More than incompetent, it’s a mess of plagiarism and meaningless garble.

Now science publishers around the world are clamouring to publish it They will distribute it globally and pretend it is real research, for a fee.

It’s untrue? And parts are plagiarized? They’re fine with that.

Welcome to the world of science scams, a fast-growing business that sucks money out of research, undermines genuine scientific knowledge, and provides fake credentials for the desperate.”
This article also points out the problems with scientific writing these days. What good is making yourself sound smart with excessive jargon when no one understands you or can make anything practical of your research?
22nd Apr 2014
Dense stands of prairie crocus (Pulsatilla patens) are a sign of overgrazing.
but regular stands, verdict: pretty.

Dense stands of prairie crocus (Pulsatilla patens) are a sign of overgrazing.

but regular stands, verdict: pretty.

18th Apr 2014

edgarcardenas:

I had these images accepted to the Long-Term Ecological Research art exhibit. The exhibit will be at the National Science Foundation headquarters in Reston, VA.

17th Apr 2014

Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

via npr
15th Apr 2014

Barn Owl Food Pyramid Investigation | Carolina.com

My childhood obsession.

Didn’t realize Carolina offered so many cool biology teaching kits, here!

photo 1, 2, 3

13th Apr 2014
Explaining long-distance dispersal: effects of dispersal distance on survival and growth in a stream salamander.
Winsor H. Lowe, Ecology 2010

Long-distance dispersal (LDD) may contribute disproportionately to range expansions, the creation of new evolutionary lineages, and species persistence in human-dominated landscapes. However, because data on the individual consequences of dispersal distance are extremely limited, we have little insight on how LDD is maintained in natural populations. I used six years of spatially explicit capture–mark–recapture (CMR) data to test the prediction that individual performance increases with dispersal distance in the stream salamander Gyrinophilus porphyriticus. Dispersal distance was total distance moved along the 1-km study stream, ranging from 0 to 565 m. To quantify individual performance, I used CMR estimates of survival and individual growth rates based on change in body length. Survival and growth rates increased significantly with dispersal distance. These relationships were not confounded by pre-dispersal body condition or by ecological gradients along the stream. Individual benefits of LDD were likely caused by an increase in the upper limit of settlement site quality with dispersal distance. My results do not support the view that the fitness consequences of LDD are unpredictable and instead suggest that consistent evolutionary mechanisms may explain the prevalence of LDD in nature. They also highlight the value of direct CMR data for understanding the individual consequences of variation in dispersal distance and how that variation is maintained in natural populations.

More here
here
photo

Explaining long-distance dispersal: effects of dispersal distance on survival and growth in a stream salamander.

Winsor H. Lowe, Ecology 2010

Long-distance dispersal (LDD) may contribute disproportionately to range expansions, the creation of new evolutionary lineages, and species persistence in human-dominated landscapes. However, because data on the individual consequences of dispersal distance are extremely limited, we have little insight on how LDD is maintained in natural populations. I used six years of spatially explicit capture–mark–recapture (CMR) data to test the prediction that individual performance increases with dispersal distance in the stream salamander Gyrinophilus porphyriticus. Dispersal distance was total distance moved along the 1-km study stream, ranging from 0 to 565 m. To quantify individual performance, I used CMR estimates of survival and individual growth rates based on change in body length. Survival and growth rates increased significantly with dispersal distance. These relationships were not confounded by pre-dispersal body condition or by ecological gradients along the stream. Individual benefits of LDD were likely caused by an increase in the upper limit of settlement site quality with dispersal distance. My results do not support the view that the fitness consequences of LDD are unpredictable and instead suggest that consistent evolutionary mechanisms may explain the prevalence of LDD in nature. They also highlight the value of direct CMR data for understanding the individual consequences of variation in dispersal distance and how that variation is maintained in natural populations.

More here

here

photo

13th Apr 2014

ecobota:

bartramsinbloom:

Erythronium americanum
American Trout-Lily
April 11, 2014

Growing in the Native Woodland garden, near the American Chestnut tree

Taken at Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

10th Apr 2014
"A community of well-adapted individuals is not the same as a well-adapted community."
Source: David Sloan Wilson, in Complex interactions in metacommunities, with implicatinos for biodiversity and higher levels of selection,” Ecology 1992
8th Apr 2014

In the spring, greater sage grouse males (Centrocercus urophasianus) gather together on open knolls and patches of bare soil and low vegetation in groups called leks. Like gyms or bars, lekking grounds are social performance spaces, where males spread their tail-feathers, inflate their impressive chests, and strut about, calling amorously to the lady birds. To entice female sage grouse to choose them as mates, the males shake the fluffy white rolls around their necks and puff out the two naked, yellow air sacs in the gular skin under their chins, “burping” air out of the sacs in loud exhales.

read more here

4th Apr 2014
We’re Listing it as Threatened, But States, Partnerships Will Conserve Lesser Prairie-Chicken

A “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. It allows us to ensure the bird’s protection while providing some measure of flexibility in implementing measures under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 
The ongoing drought and past habitat loss and fragmentation throughout the chicken’s range of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas have devastated the species – the 2013 estimate had the population at 17,616 birds, almost 50 percent fewer than 2012. 
We first identified the lesser prairie-chicken as a candidate for federal protection under the ESA in 1998, and since then, have worked with the states, federal agencies, conservation organizations, landowners and other partners to protect the species’ habitat and address the threats it faces. 

For instance, state wildlife agency experts, working through the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and with a wide variety of stakeholders, have developed a range-wide conservation plan for the prairie-chicken. That plan has a population goal of 67,000 birds range-wide.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has also developed the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative. 
Oil and gas companies, ranchers and other landowners have already signed up more than 3 million acres of lands to participate in these conservation plans. That’s a huge step forward for the conservation of the prairie-chicken and its grassland habitat. 
Most recently, we’ve signed a range-wide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for oil and gas developers that uses the flexibility of the ESA to  advance conservation objectives for the lesser prairie-chicken while considering the economic needs of the nation. 
We’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m extremely encouraged by the protections that have been put in place. They will pay enormous dividends in the future. 
We all knew going in that it would be difficult to address the threats facing the prairie chicken on a scale large enough to prevent listing. 
Despite this, every partner worked extremely hard to make a difference. In that regard, the work we’ve put in together is a victory for conservation even though listing is still necessary. That’s why in addition to the threatened listing, we are adopting a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that recognizes these efforts. 
The five range states have shown tremendous leadership in prairie-chicken conservation, so the special rule will allow them to maintain leadership in the management of the species. 
The rule says participating landowners and developers who adhere to the existing conservation agreements they signed will not be required to undertake any additional conservation measures now the prairie-chicken is listed. 
In addition, landowners who have not signed conservation agreements will be exempt from the take prohibitions of the ESA when undertaking normal agricultural practices on existing cultivated land, and do not need to take additional action. 
Landowners without existing conservation agreements who plan to undertake actions not covered under the special 4(d) rule that may kill or injure the lesser prairie-chicken or cause significant habitat modifications may require a permit from the Service. 
The lesser prairie-chicken is a species that is clearly in trouble and warrants listing under the ESA.  
But I want to commend the partnership efforts and leadership role taken by the states in developing and implementing their range-wide conservation plan.
We look forward to getting behind that state-led model for conservation and helping them recover this emblematic prairie species.

photo

We’re Listing it as Threatened, But States, Partnerships Will Conserve Lesser Prairie-Chicken

A “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. It allows us to ensure the bird’s protection while providing some measure of flexibility in implementing measures under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

The ongoing drought and past habitat loss and fragmentation throughout the chicken’s range of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas have devastated the species – the 2013 estimate had the population at 17,616 birds, almost 50 percent fewer than 2012. 

We first identified the lesser prairie-chicken as a candidate for federal protection under the ESA in 1998, and since then, have worked with the states, federal agencies, conservation organizations, landowners and other partners to protect the species’ habitat and address the threats it faces. 

For instance, state wildlife agency experts, working through the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and with a wide variety of stakeholders, have developed a range-wide conservation plan for the prairie-chicken. That plan has a population goal of 67,000 birds range-wide.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has also developed the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative

Oil and gas companies, ranchers and other landowners have already signed up more than 3 million acres of lands to participate in these conservation plans. That’s a huge step forward for the conservation of the prairie-chicken and its grassland habitat. 

Most recently, we’ve signed a range-wide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for oil and gas developers that uses the flexibility of the ESA to  advance conservation objectives for the lesser prairie-chicken while considering the economic needs of the nation. 

We’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m extremely encouraged by the protections that have been put in place. They will pay enormous dividends in the future. 

We all knew going in that it would be difficult to address the threats facing the prairie chicken on a scale large enough to prevent listing. 

Despite this, every partner worked extremely hard to make a difference. In that regard, the work we’ve put in together is a victory for conservation even though listing is still necessary. That’s why in addition to the threatened listing, we are adopting a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that recognizes these efforts. 

The five range states have shown tremendous leadership in prairie-chicken conservation, so the special rule will allow them to maintain leadership in the management of the species. 

The rule says participating landowners and developers who adhere to the existing conservation agreements they signed will not be required to undertake any additional conservation measures now the prairie-chicken is listed. 

In addition, landowners who have not signed conservation agreements will be exempt from the take prohibitions of the ESA when undertaking normal agricultural practices on existing cultivated land, and do not need to take additional action. 

Landowners without existing conservation agreements who plan to undertake actions not covered under the special 4(d) rule that may kill or injure the lesser prairie-chicken or cause significant habitat modifications may require a permit from the Service. 

The lesser prairie-chicken is a species that is clearly in trouble and warrants listing under the ESA.  

But I want to commend the partnership efforts and leadership role taken by the states in developing and implementing their range-wide conservation plan.

We look forward to getting behind that state-led model for conservation and helping them recover this emblematic prairie species.

photo

31st Mar 2014
Adaptations between Ecotypes and along Environmental Gradients in Panicum virgatum
Lowry et al., The American Naturalist, 2014

Determining the patterns and mechanisms of natural selection in the wild is of fundamental importance to understanding the differentiation of populations and the evolution of new species. However, it is often unknown the extent to which adaptive genetic variation is distributed among ecotypes between distinct habitats versus along large-scale geographic environmental gradients, such as those that track latitude. Classic studies of selection in the wild in switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, tested for adaptation at both of these levels of natural variation. Here we review what these field experiments and modern agronomic field trials have taught us about natural variation and selection at both the ecotype and environmental gradient levels in P. virgatum. With recent genome sequencing efforts in P. virgatum, it is poised to become an excellent system for understanding the adaptation of grassland species across the eastern half of North America. The identification of genetic loci involved in different types of adaptations will help to understand the evolutionary mechanisms of diversification within P. virgatum and provide useful information for the breeding of high-yielding cultivars for different ecoregions.

Both Panicum and other grasses - namely, species we eat!
read more here
photo

Adaptations between Ecotypes and along Environmental Gradients in Panicum virgatum

Lowry et al., The American Naturalist, 2014

Determining the patterns and mechanisms of natural selection in the wild is of fundamental importance to understanding the differentiation of populations and the evolution of new species. However, it is often unknown the extent to which adaptive genetic variation is distributed among ecotypes between distinct habitats versus along large-scale geographic environmental gradients, such as those that track latitude. Classic studies of selection in the wild in switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, tested for adaptation at both of these levels of natural variation. Here we review what these field experiments and modern agronomic field trials have taught us about natural variation and selection at both the ecotype and environmental gradient levels in P. virgatum. With recent genome sequencing efforts in P. virgatum, it is poised to become an excellent system for understanding the adaptation of grassland species across the eastern half of North America. The identification of genetic loci involved in different types of adaptations will help to understand the evolutionary mechanisms of diversification within P. virgatum and provide useful information for the breeding of high-yielding cultivars for different ecoregions.

Both Panicum and other grasses - namely, species we eat!

read more here

photo

29th Mar 2014
"Pattern is generated by process."
Source: R. Paine (1980)
28th Mar 2014
dendroica:

Decline of natural history troubling for science, society

Tewksbury and 16 other scientists from across North America outline the importance to society and call for a revitalization of the practice of natural history in an article in the April issue of BioScience.
Natural history is generally more concerned with observations and collections than with experimentation. It’s thought narrowly as the purview of scientists bottling up specimens or pressing plants meant for museums. But natural history is really about looking at organisms so closely that one learns their habits and how they fit with what’s around them. The approach works for understanding animals, plants and other organisms outdoors as well as at the microbial level in, for example, our bodies.
Among examples in the paper, the co-authors point out that effective fisheries management relies on natural history and that disasters such as the collapse of the Bering Sea walleye pollock fishery might have been avoided had natural history been used sooner. Many infectious diseases of humans – including avian influenza, Lyme disease, cholera and rabies – are linked at some point in their life cycles to other animals. Indeed 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are associated with animals. Control strategies rely on knowing these hosts’ natural history….
Whereas universities in the 1950s, examined as part of the BioScience paper, required natural history courses for a biology degree, today the majority of U.S. schools have no such requirement, a trend that has coincided with the rise of molecular, experimental and other forms of biology. The rate of natural history publications in some disciplines has seen a parallel decline….
In the paper the co-authors offer recommendations for individuals and institutions interested in revitalizing natural history.
"There’s hope, both within and outside of traditional natural history collections, in the rise of Internet- and smartphone-based technologies that allow the growth of broad partnerships, including citizen-science initiatives," Tewksbury said. An example is eBird, a web-based program developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that has capitalized on the widespread interest in and appeal of birds. The program has witnessed a rapid, global increase in data contributors and users, which has enabled both researchers and the general public to benefit from technologies for the collection, organization and dissemination of vast numbers of bird observations.
Such programs are emerging but will need established professionals to self-identify as natural historians to provide the leadership for natural history to reclaim its necessary role, the authors assert.

(via phys.org)

dendroica:

Decline of natural history troubling for science, society

Tewksbury and 16 other scientists from across North America outline the importance to society and call for a revitalization of the practice of natural history in an article in the April issue of BioScience.

Natural history is generally more concerned with observations and collections than with experimentation. It’s thought narrowly as the purview of scientists bottling up specimens or pressing plants meant for museums. But natural history is really about looking at organisms so closely that one learns their habits and how they fit with what’s around them. The approach works for understanding animals, plants and other organisms outdoors as well as at the microbial level in, for example, our bodies.

Among examples in the paper, the co-authors point out that effective fisheries management relies on natural history and that disasters such as the collapse of the Bering Sea walleye pollock fishery might have been avoided had natural history been used sooner. Many infectious diseases of humans – including avian influenza, Lyme disease, cholera and rabies – are linked at some point in their life cycles to other animals. Indeed 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are associated with animals. Control strategies rely on knowing these hosts’ natural history….

Whereas universities in the 1950s, examined as part of the BioScience paper, required natural history courses for a biology degree, today the majority of U.S. schools have no such requirement, a trend that has coincided with the rise of molecular, experimental and other forms of biology. The rate of natural history publications in some disciplines has seen a parallel decline….

In the paper the co-authors offer recommendations for individuals and institutions interested in revitalizing natural history.

"There’s hope, both within and outside of traditional natural history collections, in the rise of Internet- and smartphone-based technologies that allow the growth of broad partnerships, including citizen-science initiatives," Tewksbury said. An example is eBird, a web-based program developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that has capitalized on the widespread interest in and appeal of birds. The program has witnessed a rapid, global increase in data contributors and users, which has enabled both researchers and the general public to benefit from technologies for the collection, organization and dissemination of vast numbers of bird observations.

Such programs are emerging but will need established professionals to self-identify as natural historians to provide the leadership for natural history to reclaim its necessary role, the authors assert.

(via phys.org)