Friday links: a cat tale (of possible scientific misconduct), COVID-19 vs. everything, and more

Also this week: Stephen Heard’s new book, Mark Vellend interview, COVID-19 vs. ecologists, COVID-19 vs. tenure, COVID-19 vs. penguins, the first-ever Dynamic Ecology Recipe, and more.

From Jeremy:

Stephen Heard’s new book is out. Congratulations, Stephen!

An interview with Mark Vellend about the backstory to Vellend (2010), the paper that eventually led to Mark’s influential book. Related: my review of Mark’s book, and Mark’s guest post on why (some) ecologists have evolution envy.

Ecologists in the time of COVID-19.

All Ohio State University tenure-track faculty will be given a one-year extension to their tenure clocks due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

An amazing interactive demonstration that any simple polygon can be cut into finite pieces and rearranged to form any other simple polygon of equal area. (ht Math With Bad Drawings)

An excerpt from Cat Tale, a new book on the battle to save the Florida panther. Much panther conservation policy was based on scientific research (including a high-profile 1995 paper in Conservation Biology) that turned out to be seriously flawed. Indeed, so seriously flawed that some consider it to be the product of deliberate misconduct on the part of the author. For broader context, see my old posts on the history of scientific misconduct, and the history of retractions from ecology & evolution journals.

You get your ecology discussion and science-y news from us, so it totally makes sense that you should get recipes from us too. 🙂 Here’s carrot, cilantro, and chile slaw. This stuff is delicious! I eat it with corn chips all the time, and I’m not even a vegetarian. I don’t bother with the jalapeños, I just sprinkle in ground cayenne pepper until it’s as spicy as I want it. It’s fine to omit the ground coriander if you don’t have any around. You can eat it right away, but it’s even better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight so the flavors blend.

However you introduce your recorded video lectures, you’re doing it wrong. THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. 🙂 (ht @stephaniecarvin)

I can haz fish? 🙂

6 thoughts on “Friday links: a cat tale (of possible scientific misconduct), COVID-19 vs. everything, and more

  1. I found really interesting Mark Vellend’s conversation about how his influential 2010 paper was rejected twice because senior editors considered it obvious or at least not novel. Even though it clearly grabbed a lot of people very strongly as important when published.

    There is lot to unpack there. What makes something novel? How much is floating around in the minds of people that doesn’t necessarily get said or written down anywhere? And how does the next generation get inducted into that unspoken world view? Was the older generation provided more training across ecology and evolution while newer students are specialized in one or the other?

    • Yes, I found that interesting too.

      It is my anecdotal impression that Mark’s paper, and subsequent book, were seized on by grad students in particular. For pedagogical reasons–it gave students a worldview and roadmap, helped them fit together all the stuff they were being asked to read. I would be very curious to know how influential Mark’s book has been with grad students for this reason, as compared to its influence on the thinking of faculty who already have their own “mental roadmaps” of community ecology.

      • Needless to say I found it interesting myself. And on this very blog I wrote a guest post about what constitutes novelty!
        https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/where-do-ideas-come-from-and-what-counts-as-novel/

        As did Peter Adler:
        https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/novelty-and-conceptual-fragmentation-in-ecology-a-self-reinforcing-spiral/

        I’d be curious to know the extent to which these ideas really were floating around in people’s minds, or whether it was only after-the-fact obvious. And even for experienced researchers, from experience it wasn’t really all that many for whom this seemed old-hat. This is where my thought in the interview came from about judgement from the most expert of experts. They might not be best placed to see what kinds of syntheses and perspectives will be most useful to the majority of readers (the 99%!). And I recognize that I might be susceptible of making similar skewed judgements of my own (i.e., “they” includes “we”).

      • “I’d be curious to know the extent to which these ideas really were floating around in people’s minds, or whether it was only after-the-fact obvious.”

        Good question!

      • I’m sure I’ve said this somewhere in the comments previously, but my PhD Adviser who was also an EiC (Mike Rosenzweig) used to say that whenever he saw a review that said “that’s obvious” but then didn’t cite literature on where it was already said usually meant that it was actually really important. Apparently he saw this pattern repeat enough to develop it into a rule of thumb. Many fundamental things seem obvious in hindsight.

      • I’ve also come to believe with time in the field that ideas are floating at the tip of many scientists consciousness at any one time. But we then assign credit to the person who writes it down and publishes it. That’s probably good as it encourages people to write it down. But it has humbled me too to realize that almost anything I’m thinking is building off the agreed frontier just enough that probably lots of other people are poking around in that area and thinking it too.

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