Issue 11.7: Biodiversity offsetting, demersal fisheries & decaying logs

The July issue of Methods is now online! Cover JPEG

This month’s issue features articles on evaluating biodiversity offsetting, managing remotely-collected data, quantifying log decay and much more.

Senior Editor Aaron Ellison has selected six featured articles this month – find out about them below. We also have three Applications and seven articles that are freely available to everyone – no subscription required!

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Methodology matters for comparing coarse wood and bark decay rates across tree species

Post provided by Chenhui Chang

 

落红不是无情物,化作春泥更护花。 –龚自珍(清)
The fallen petals are not as cruel as they seem; they fertilize those in full bloom instead.”Gong Zizhen (Qing Dynasty)

log

A decaying Douglas fir log

This picture shows a decomposing log of Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, in Schovenhorst, The Netherlands, which is one of the deadwood incubation sites of the LOGLIFE “tree cemetery” project. 25 angiosperm and gymnosperm species covering a diverse range of functional traits were selected and incubated in the “common garden experiment”. This project was founded in 2012, aiming to disentangle the effects of different species’ wood traits and site-related environmental drivers on decomposition dynamics of wood, and its associated diversity of microbial and invertebrate communities.

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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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In the Spotlight: LGBTQ+ Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists

Post provided by Vishwadeep Mane

For 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. First up we have Vishwadeep Mane, a first-year microbiology PhD student at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

Vishwadeep Mane shares his experience of being LGBTQ+ in microbiology.

Hello Everyone! Namaste! The world today is on the brink of a whole new era, an era of rethinking better. The Pandemic portrayed the necessity of sustainable reforms that are imperative for adapting to newer situations. Nevertheless, it brought the whole world together, gave us a reason to fight, love and respect. This month marks the ‘rebellion’ that gave voices to many unheard stories and changed the course of life of many individuals. To a greater extent, it helped in making this world a place for all with equality and respect. This ‘rebellion’ gave the moment of ‘Pride’ to possibly everyone unique in their own way. Happy Pride Month to all of you!

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The tripod frame: mooring acoustic receivers on the seabed

Post provided by Jolien Goossens

Jolien Goossens tells us about the challenges of installing acoustic receivers on the seabed and the tripod they designed to overcome them.

sea

Installing scientific instruments in the marine environment comes with many challenges. Equipment has to withstand the physical forces of tides, currents and storms. Researchers have to take into account the effects of biofouling, corrosion and human activities. Even access to the study site can pose its difficulties, as diving is limited by depth and weather conditions. Practical deployment mechanisms are therefore needed to sustain consistent data flows.

Acoustic telemetry enables the observation of animal movements in aquatic environments. Individual animals are fitted with a transmitter, relaying a signal that can be picked up by acoustic receivers. To facilitate a convenient installation of these instruments, we developed and tested a new design, mounting a receiver with an acoustic release on a tripod frame. This frame enables the recovery of all equipment and better yet, improves the quality of the data.

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Biomechanically-Aware Behaviour Recognition using Accelerometers

Post provided by Pritish Chakravarty

 

Accelerometers, Ground Truthing, and Supervised Learning

Accelerometers are sensitive to movement and the lack of it. They are not sentient and must recognise animal behaviour based on a human observer’s cognition. Therefore, remote recognition of behaviour using accelerometers requires ground truth data which is based on human observation or knowledge. The need for validated behavioural information and for automating the analysis of the vast amounts of data collected today, have resulted in many studies opting for supervised machine learning approaches.

Ground-truthing. The acceleration data stream (recorded using the animal-borne data logger, bottom-left) is synchronised with simultaneously recorded video (near top right). Picture credit: Kamiar Aminian

In such approaches, the process of ground truthing involves time-synchronising acceleration signals with simultaneously recorded video, having an animal behaviour expert create an ethogram, and then annotate the video according to this ethogram. This links the recorded acceleration signal to the stream of observed animal behaviours that produced it. After this, acceleration signals are chopped up into finite sections of pre-set size (e.g. two seconds), called windows. From acceleration data within windows, quantities called ‘features’ are engineered with the aim of summarising characteristics of the acceleration signal. Typically, ~15-20 features are computed. Good features will have similar values for the same behaviour, and different values for different behaviours.

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An interview with the editors of “Population Ecology in Practice”: Part II

Post provided by Daniel Caetano

Today we bring the second part of an interview with Dennis Murray and Brett Sandercock about their brand new book in population ecology methods: “Population Ecology in Practice.” This time we talked about their experience as editors, including some useful advice for new editors.

If you missed the first part of the interview, check it out here.

Population Ecology in Practice introduces a synthesis of analytical and modelling approaches currently used in demographic, genetic, and spatial analyses. Chapters provide examples based on real datasets together with a companion website with study cases and exercises implemented in the R statistical programming language.

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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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Neo was right—The Matrix explains everything

Post provided by Jody Reimer

One of the unifying themes in ecology may be the acknowledgement that we live in a world of finite resources, and so we also live in a world of tradeoffs. A diverse range of research questions can be distilled into a question about tradeoffs. For example, how should an animal forage in the presence of predation? Which selective forces determine the life history of a flowering perennial? How should we manage a population to maximize the sustainable harvest rate?

Jody

Questions as varied as these can all be addressed using the same method of stochastic programming[1] (SDP) (see McNamara and Houston, 1986; Rees et al. 1999; and Runge and Johnson, 2002, respectively). SDP has been used extensively to study optimal tradeoffs in a wide range of applications in ecology, evolutionary biology, and management. It is a flexible and powerful modelling framework that allows for simultaneous consideration of an individual’s state, how an optimal decision might explicitly depend on time, and for a probabilistic landscape of risks and rewards. 

[1] Also known as Markov Decision Processes

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Issue 11.6: goats, camera traps, coral imaging and more!

The June issue of Methods is now online!

June Cover

This month’s issue features articles on designing camera trap studies, measuring coral growth rates, quantifying carbon assimilation by marine calcifiers and much more.

Senior Editor Rob Freckleton has selected six featured articles this month – find out about them below. We’ve also got three Applications and a Practical Tools article which are freely available to everyone – no subscription required!

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