World Wetlands Day: Wetlands and Water

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

World Wetlands Day 2021 shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss. Credit: Ramsar.org.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that healthy wetland systems are linked with freshwater quality. Wetlands form vital habitats for global biodiversity, help combat climate change through storage of carbon and offer defenses against flooding. Freshwater resources, including wetlands, are under increasing pressure from over-abstraction, pollution and habitat destruction among other threats, which is directly contributing to the current global freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet.

February 2nd each year is World Wetlands Day, which aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands. This year, the 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence that is vital to life, our well-being, and the health of our planet. In this blog post, Associate Editor Chloe Robinson, will explore why wetlands are so important and the new DNA-based methods being used to monitor wetland health.

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World Fisheries Day 2020: Cleaning up the Act of Salmon Fisheries?

Post provided by Ben Whittaker and Hannah L. Harrison

Juvenile lumpfish in hatchery facility. Credit: Emily Costello (UK).

World Fisheries Day is celebrated annually on 21st November, to reflect on the ever-increasing knowledge about fishing, fishers, coastal communities, and the status of the oceans and fish stocks. This year, the Canadian Wildlife Federation are highlighting their work towards ending the current practice of salmon aquaculture, via the gradual phasing out of open-pen finfish aquaculture (OPFA) to prevent further negative impacts of the practice on wildlife and marine habitats. One of the major impacts of salmon aquaculture on wildlife, is the transmission of sea lice to wild salmonid populations, which has resulted in mass mortalities of wild fish. The most efficient control method to reduce sea-lice in farms is arguably the deployment of cleaner fish, however, there is little information on how this widely used method impacts individual welfare and worldwide sustainability of cleaner fish stocks. In this blog post, Dr Ben Whittaker and Dr Hannah L. Harrison, discuss the current status of cleaner fish fisheries.

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International LGBTQ+ STEM Day 2020: Promoting Visibility of LGBTQ+ People in STEM

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

Picture credit: Chloe Robinson.

November 18th, 2020 marks International LGBTQ+ STEM Day, which aims to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer + (LGBTQ, “+”= plus other sexes, gender identities, and sexual orientations) people in all different STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. This specific date is symbolic of the 60th anniversary of American astronomer and gay activist Frank Kameny’s US Supreme Court fight against workplace discrimination, a fight that continues today in many countries worldwide. To mark this day, Associate and Blog Editor, Dr. Chloe Robinson, who is openly lesbian, has put together a blog post, with contributions from other LGBTQ+-identifying MEE Associate Editors, to discuss the current state of LGBTQ+ visibility in STEM.

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Announcing our new Associate Editors 2020

Following an open call for applicants in July, we are pleased to welcome 30 new Associate Editors to the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Editorial Board. The researchers joining us span 16 different countries, including our first editors working in Iran, Italy and Portugal. Find out more about them below.

We are really delighted to have further expanded the expertise on our board so that we can continue to promote the development of new methods in ecology and evolution.

Welcome to the team!

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Sharing is Caring: Working With Other People’s Data

Post provided by Mariana García Criado, Isla Myers-Smith, Lander Baeten, Andrew Cunliffe, Gergana Daskalova, Elise Gallois and Jeffrey Kerby

 

The Team Shrub research group in 2017 on Qikiqtaruk – Herschel Island in the Canadian Arctic. Not only do Team Shrub work with other people’s data, we collect our own to share publicly following open science best practice. (Photo credit: Sandra Angers-Blondin, www.teamshrub.com).

Team Shrub (www.teamshrub.com), are ecologists working to understand how global change alters plant communities and ecosystem processes. In May 2020, Team Shrub held a lab meeting to discuss working with other people’s data. Inspired by the conversation, they decided to put a blog post together to explore the importance of careful data cleaning in open science, provide 10 best practice suggestions for working with other people’s data, and discuss ways forward towards more reproducible science. 

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In the Spotlight: Wife-Wife Ecologists

Post provided by Chloe and Jessica Robinson

 

For LGBTQ+ Pride month, we are inviting LGBTQ+-identifying ecologists and evolutionary biologists to share their experiences of being LGBTQ+ in their field and present their thoughts on how the STEM can improve lives for LGBTQ+ individuals. For this post, wife-wife team Chloe and Jessica Robinson from Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph, share their experiences of being married ecologists in STEM.

Jessica (left) and Chloe Robinson (right) met whilst studying at Swansea University.

C: “Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is a quote many of us are familiar with and it is something I have always strived to achieve. In my experience, by adding “Find a job you love & someone who shares your passion and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” to this quote gives the recipe for a happy marriage also. That ‘someone’ for me is my wife, Jessica.

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Methods for Ocean Conservation: World Ocean’s Day 2020

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

 

Whether you refer to them as the ‘briny deep’, the ‘seven seas’ or ‘Davy Jones’ locker’, the world’s oceans play a huge part in all of our lives. Consisting of 70% of the earth’s surface, oceans driving global weather patterns, through regulating a conveyor belt of heat from the equator to the poles. Oceans are also teeming with life, from single-celled organisms to large apex predators, such as the killer whale (Orcinus orca).

Male killer whale exhaling. Photo credit: Chloe Robinson/Sea Watch Foundation.

As with every other ecosystem on earth, the world’s oceans and the marine life they provide a home to, are under increasing pressure from human-related activities. At the 1992 Earth Summit, Canada proposed the concept of a World Ocean Day as a day to celebrate our oceans and to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it. Since 2002, the Ocean Project has been coordinating and promoting of World Ocean Day.

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The Ecology of Dance

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

Dance has been part of human culture for millennia. Some scholars refer to dance as a specific language, dependent on the space and time in which it exists and dependent on the power structures that rule in that time. April 29th marks International Dance Day; a day initiated in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute to commemorate the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, a distinguished French choreographer.

Male Maratus volans peacock spider. Picture credit: Jürgen Otto.

For humans, dance is considered a sacred ritual, sometimes a form of communication and sometimes an important social and courtship activity. A recent study has even linked the innate ability to dance with greater survival rates in prehistoric times. However, for certain species of wild animal, dance-like behaviours are crucial for communication and mating. In this blog, I am going to highlight the evolutionary foundations of dance in wild animals and explore some of the ways that dance is used in ecology.

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Earth Day 2020: Monitoring Biodiversity for Climate Action

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

The demands of a growing human population are putting increasing pressure on the Earth’s natural systems and services. Dubbed the ‘Anthropocene’, we are currently living in a period where human actions are directly altering many earth processes, including atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic and biospheric processes. Climatic change and the resulting consequences, including rising temperatures, changing precipitation (i.e. rainfall, snow etc) and increase in frequency of storm events, represent the biggest challenge to our future and the life-support ecosystems that make our world habitable.

Artist’s interpretation of global climate change. Photo credit: Pete Linforth/Pixabay.

In 1970, Earth Day was launched as a modern environmental movement and a unified response to an environment in crisis. Earth Day has provided a platform for action, resulting in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts in the US and more globally. This year, 22 April marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the number one environmental crisis theme which needs immediate attention is ‘Climate Action’. Many of our ecosystems on earth are degrading at an alarming pace and we are currently experiencing a species loss at a rate of tens or hundreds of times faster than in the past. 

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H.A.P.P.Y: How Are People Preventing Yearning in Academia?

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

Academia and university culture in general are high-paced, demanding environments to work and study in. In the UK alone, a Unihealth study identified that 80% of students studying in higher education experienced stress and anxiety. Similarly, staff and faculty are currently under tremendous pressure and the effects are apparent. A study for the Higher Education Policy Institute revealed that university counselling referrals have risen by three-quarters between 2009 and 2015. So it’s hardly surprising that universities are being coined primary ‘anxiety machines’.

Credit: Ramdlon (pixabay.com).

A multitude of factors can cause the kinds of stress being experienced by so many in universities. Unmanageable workloads, lack of permanent contracts, research exploitation, discrimination, sexism, lack of sufficient support and supervision, pressure to be successful and high competition are just some of the reasons. University bosses state they are aware of the issues and are actively working to improve well-being in institutions, but a lot still remains to be done to tackle the issues.

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