Happy 4th birthday to us!




Sorry, no “birthday reflections” post this year. Maybe next year for the big #5. Below the fold: recapping some of my favorite posts of the year.

Posts from Meg that I really liked:

Strategies (and reasons) for being more productive with fewer hours. Great advice even though I suck at following it.

Poll on last and corresponding authorship in ecology. Looking forward to the results!

Up Goer Five. For the great comment thread, one of our best ever I think. Terrific high level debate about how to teach scientists to communicate effectively with the general public. And interesting to me because it was a rare case of me disagreeing with Meg and Brian.

Posts from Brian that I really liked:

The five pivotal paragraphs in a paper. Familiar advice to some, I’m sure, but so well put that I now keep this post open when I’m writing my papers.

Biodiversity and pizza. Meaty post on a hot button issue–measuring and valuing biodiversity–framed with a fun analogy. I still can’t believe this post didn’t go massively viral.

Guest posts I really liked:

Making waves: can basic ecological research generate headlines, and does it matter? by Andrew Kleinhesselink and Peter Adler. Great, important post on why ecology doesn’t have “discoveries”, and how ecology’s lack of discoveries constrains how ecology can be marketed to the general public and policymakers.

Trying to understand ecological data without mechanistic models is a waste of time by Greg Dwyer. Nice example of deliberate provocation backed up by a good argument.

Citizen science and data quality by Margaret Kosmala. As a total outsider to citizen science, I learned a lot from this.

Why do (some) ecologists have evolution envy? by Mark Vellend. Asks questions near and dear to my heart.

Personal favorites of mine:

I’m listing more than 2-3 only because it’s harder for me to pick favorites from among my own “children”.🙂

My poll on which big ideas in ecology were successful, and which were unsuccessful. Originally just for fun, but turned out to be super-interesting. A real window into the collective thinking of (one segment of) the field.

Chill out about Jingmai O’Connor’s criticism of bloggers. A rare sort of post for us–intervening in a timely fashion in a controversy in the science Twittersphere. I’d like to think it was an effective intervention (well, as effective as a single blog post could be, which probably isn’t much), but I don’t plan to make a habit of it!

The (r)evolution of ecology in the 1950s and 60s. Ok, turned out I just rediscovered points Mike Kaspari made much better in an ESA Bulletin piece a few years ago. But still, it was a very interesting exercise to go back and read both classic and now-forgotten papers from the dawn of modern ecology and see just how similar they were.

Is the IDH a ghost, not a zombie? What started out as a fairly boring exercise to confirm what anyone would expect–that my paper critiquing the IDH didn’t actually cause anyone to abandon it–turned into something much more interesting, at least to me. I learned that the IDH isn’t a zombie idea as I’d thought–it’s a ghost. It’s effectively dead as far as current research is concerned.

Limits to continental-scale species richness: thoughts on the debate. An attempt to contribute substantively to a fascinating debate that began at a conference I couldn’t attend and continued in the peer-reviewed literature. Unsuccessful, sadly–hardly anyone commented, much to my disappointment. But I’m still pleased with my contribution even if hardly anyone else saw it or cared.

Mathew Leibold and I on variance partitioning in metacommunity ecology. A post that grew out of an exchange of comments. Good example of the value of blogs as a medium for high level discussion and debate. Much more timely and effective discussion than would’ve been possible via exchanges of comments in a journal.

Cool pictures of scientists. My favorite fun post of the year.

p.s. Image sources here, here, here.

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