I’m speaking on science blogging at #SocialFish #AFS2016 today

Today at 10:20 am Central time I’m giving a keynote talk on science blogging at the 2016 American Fisheries Society meeting. It’s part of the #SocialFish symposium, which runs all day. Come on by if you’re at the meeting, or follow via Twitter if you’re not! It’ll be a mix of old thoughts and new thoughts. There will be zombie jokes. And I’ll be comparing myself to an alligator gar.

Alligator gar - Atractosteus spatula

Me. More or less.

(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Where to drink in Ft. Lauderdale for the ESA meeting if you’re a beer geek

I won’t be at the ESA meeting this year, but as a service to the community way of procrastinating, here are the fruits of my background research on where to drink interesting beer in Ft. Lauderdale.* Think of it as a specialized supplement to J. Matt Hoch’s guest post yesterday on where to eat and drink in Ft. Lauderdale.

Or, you could just find a nice spot by the beach and drink whatever Steve Walker’s drinking. But I wouldn’t recommend that.** 😉

Continue reading

Where to eat and drink in Ft. Lauderdale for the ESA meeting

Note from Jeremy: this is a guest post from J. Matt Hoch, an ecologist at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. Thanks very much to Matt for sharing his local knowledge–and for going so far as to poll his whole college for suggestions! He even told you where to eat in Miami if you have time to pop down there. He’ll be at the ESA meeting, so if you see him thank him in person!

Continue reading

I’m going to be speaking on blogging at a fisheries meeting. Tell me what to say!

So, I’m going to be speaking in a symposium on social media at the American Fisheries Society meeting in August. I’m talking about blogging, obviously, but I deliberately kept my abstract pretty broad so that I could decide later what exactly to talk about. So, if you were attending this meeting–or if you are!–what would you like me to talk about? If you were in my shoes, what would you talk about? Here are a few scattered but hopefully interesting ideas I’ve had:

(attention conservation notice: short post ahead)

Continue reading

#ESA100 impressions (UPDATED)

My take-home impressions from #ESA100:

Science-related:

  • I’ve been expecting and hoping for this for a couple of years, and this is the year it finally happened: modern coexistence theory, as developed by Peter Chesson and collaborators, is going mainstream. I’ll even go out on a limb and predict that it’s the next big thing in community ecology. Deborah Goldberg stood up in front of a huge Ignite session crowd and named it as one of the two most important ideas in community ecology right now. A number of people besides the usual suspects gave talks on it, including about how to apply it to new problems. Steve Ellner has invented a new statistical approach that should make estimates of the temporal storage effect (a particularly important component of modern coexistence theory) both easier to do and more accurate. And Peter Chesson presented what may be a major extension of the theory. I’m planning to do my part to get this bandwagon rolling–and help steer it clear of pitfalls–by writing a series of posts explaining modern coexistence theory with minimal (but not zero) math. The emphasis will be on giving you the gist, but in a more precise way than is possible if you just avoid math entirely or rely entirely on illustrative examples. I did the first few a while back, so while you wait for me to write the rest now would be a good time to review the old ones (or read them for the first time).
  • Variance partitioning as a way to infer the processes driving metacommunity structure is dead. At least it should be, in my view. It’s now failed three major attempts to validate it using simulated data generated by known processes–Gilbert & Bennett 2010, Smith & Lundholm 2010, and now Eric Sokol’s very good talk at this meeting. And the reasons it fails probably aren’t fixable. Others would disagree, of course. And Eric himself thinks it might be possible to use other statistical approaches to infer process from pattern here, but personally I’ll believe it when I see it. Variance partitioning as a way to infer the processes driving metacommunity structure was a creative idea worth trying out. But we’ve tried it out, and it doesn’t work, not well enough to be useful at any rate. We should stop doing it. And before you say it, no, the fact that we’ve got lots of data sitting around that it would be really nice to make use of is not a good reason to keep on keepin’ on. If an approach doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, no matter how great it would be if the approach actually did work. And no, the purported lack of alternative approaches to accomplish the same goal isn’t a good reason to keep on keepin’ on either. If an approach doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, even if there aren’t any other approaches that would work. Plus, there actually are plenty of alternative ways to study the processes generating metacommunity structure–you can do all sorts of different experiments, you can collect all sorts of other data, you can do all sorts of other analyses, you can do theoretical modeling… (UPDATE: my comments on variance partitioning aren’t as clear as they should’ve been. What’s dead, in my view, is one popular use of variance partitioning–as a diagnostic tool for metacommunity structure. See the comments and this post for more on this.)
  • A few other talks I really enjoyed: Michael Cortez has a wonderfully simple, elegant idea for how to partition the stability of eco-evolutionary systems. His approach lets us address questions like whether evolution stabilizes or destabilizes the ecological dynamics (and vice-versa). Brett Melbourne showed tightly-linked models and experiments on how well a species in a changing environment will track the shifting environmental conditions to which it is best-adapted. Always cool to see someone develop a simple model that totally nails what’s going on. The alarming upshot is that standard “niche modeling” approaches for predicting species’ range shifts in response to climate change are likely to fail especially badly for precisely those species we’re most concerned about. Even in the absence of more familiar complications like interspecific interactions and barriers to dispersal. Lauren Shoemaker’s talk on how demographic and environmental stochasticity can alter the strength of spatial coexistence mechanisms was very good too. (Note: I saw lots of other very good talks, and I’m sure I missed many as well. Please don’t read anything into it if I didn’t list your talk here, even if you saw me in the audience.)

Meeting-related:

  • Biggest ESA meeting ever, or very close to it, from what I hear. More sessions than Portland a few years ago, which would seem to imply at least as many attendees.
  • The quality of Ignite talks is more variable than that of regular talks, I think for various reasons.
  • Thanks again to Ulli Hain and Emma Young for the guest posts on where to eat and drink. Those posts got a lot of views, and I heard from a lot of people who followed their advice and were glad they did. I followed several of their suggestions and can confirm that, yeah, the crab cakes at Faidley’s are amazing, and Pitango’s gelato is so good it should be illegal. 🙂
  • My one quibble with the organization this year: I didn’t like having big plenary lectures–including Mercedes Pascual’s MacArthur Award lecture–scheduled at noon. I don’t like forcing attendees to choose between lunch and the MacArthur Award lecture (or between a late lunch and the first half of the afternoon sessions). A big reason people come to ESA is to see their colleagues and friends, which they do over meals.
  • I think the over/under on attendance in Ft. Lauderdale next year is 2500. With a big meeting this year, and a popular location (Portland) coming up in 2017, I suspect attendance in Ft. Lauderdale is going to be limited to folks who never miss an ESA meeting. That’s not a criticism of the choice of location–there are good reasons why the meeting needs to move around the country, and why it’s usually held in hot places. It’s just the reality–the meeting isn’t going to be equally huge every year.

Finally, a big thank you to the organizers, who have a big difficult job and who do it very well. I love the ESA meeting, and this year was no exception!

p.s. I’m on holiday until Aug. 21. Posting will remain light and comment moderation may be slow.

I’m changing the topic of my ESA talk; now it’ll be more interesting!

FYI: I’m changing the topic of my ESA talk. I’m now going to talk about what I think are some very cool experimental results testing for a “spatial hydra effect” in metapopulation dynamics. A spatial hydra effect occurs when increasing the rate at which local subpopulations go extinct increases the persistence of the metapopulation as a whole. So getting your head cut off can be good for you, as it were. The really cool thing is, you don’t have to assume some weird “mythical” world in order for a spatial hydra effect to happen. It’s just a straightforward, but previously unrecognized (as far as I know), implication of simple models of metapopulation dynamics. Besides being a very “cute” phenomenon, I think the spatial hydra effect represents a deep insight into how colonization-extinction dynamics are even possible. I talked about the theory behind the spatial hydra effect a couple of years ago at ESA. The new experimental results come from an ongoing experiment my lab has been running for the past six weeks.

I’m doing this because I want to give the most interesting talk I can. Back in February, when ESA abstracts were due, this experiment was barely a glimmer in my mind. It’d have been way too risky (and technically against the rules) to propose to talk about a study I hadn’t even started yet, so I didn’t. But now that the experiment’s well underway, I’d feel bad giving what I think would just be an ok talk when I can give what I think will be a really good talk instead. Plus, the topic is still community ecology–it involves two species and interspecific interactions are part of the story, so it’s really a metacommunity talk. So the talk is still a good fit for the session (“community pattern and dynamics IV”). Heck, it’s still about protist microcosm metacommunities, so it’s not all that far from the talk I was originally planning.

And if you’re still bummed because you really wanted to hear the talk I was originally planning, you’re in luck. Just do what I’m planning to do and go see Eric Sokol’s talk. It sounds really good. Eric’ll be making the many of the same points I would’ve made, though in a different–and better!–way. (The existence of his talk had nothing to do with my change of mind, by the way.)

Where to drink in Baltimore for #ESA100 if you’re a beer geek (UPDATED)

I’m a beer geek. Enough of one that I usually do some background research before the ESA meeting, to suss out where I’d like to drink. Which has paid off more than once, by identifying good places that aren’t totally swamped.* Including out of the way places that are worth a cab ride.

This year, I’m sharing the fruits of my background research, which mostly consists of looking at the reviews on beer geek websites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer.

Max’s Taphouse. One of the best beer bars in the country, and correspondingly famous. You’ll need to take a water taxi to Fell’s Point (UPDATE: or a 30 minute walk, or the orange circulator bus), but it’s surely worth it. Over 100 taps including several cask ales. I am definitely going here.

The Wharf Rat. Apparently the second-best beer bar in Fell’s Point. 20+ taps including several cask ales. British-style food service–order at the bar and they bring the food to your table.

Pratt St. Ale House. Pretty good brewpub, across the street from the convention center. I predict it will be absolutely rammed. And that the sun will rise tomorrow. #psychic

Alewife. Gastropub with something like 30+ taps. Only a few blocks from the convention center. The food sounds awesome (and they make an effort to serve invasive species), though it seems to get mixed reviews. I am going to try to get here.

The Brewer’s Art. Another gastropub (well, upscale pub with proper restaurant in back, from the look of the pictures). They brew their own beer. Has a first-hand recommendation from reader Karen Lips. Note that the surrounding area may be a little sketchy. UPDATE: a commenter who lives two blocks away reports it’s not at all sketchy.

Mahaffey’sUnassuming but excellent local in Canton, the neighborhood east of Fell’s Point. Might be too far afield and not special enough to be worth a trek, but I’ll throw it out there. About 20 frequently-changing taps, including a cask ale.

Of Love and RegretAlso in Canton. 27 taps split evenly between Stillwater beers and very hard-to-find international guest beers (an Italian sour beer?!). Judging solely from their website, Stillwater is the most creative and/or most pretentious microbrewery on earth. Gastropub food. I’m actually a little suspicious of the wide range of cuisines on offer; can they really do good versions of Vietnamese, German, Japanese, Texas BBQ, and more? But whatever–I’m definitely going here.

*In my experience, ESA meeting attendees tend to go to the good bar closest to the convention center, as long as it’s within the main concentration of bars and restaurants. A corollary is that attendees tend not to discover any good bar outside the main concentration of bars and restaurants, not even if it’s close by. Case in point: the Minneapolis meeting, when you had your choice of drinking at the admittedly-fine Brit’s Pub with every other ecologist at the meeting (at least, that’s how it seemed), or walking literally one block further (but crucially, off the main drag) to the Bulldog Downtown. Second case in point: Albuquerque, where hardly any ecologists went to the awesome Marble Brewery despite its location a few blocks from the hotels–because it’s in an industrial park.

Guest post: where to eat and drink in Baltimore for #ESA100, part 2

Note from Jeremy: This is a guest post by Emma Young, a Ph.D. student in ecology & evolution at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She’s from Baltimore, so she knows the city inside-out. Thanks for sharing your love of your hometown, Emma! This is our second guest post on where to eat and drink Baltimore.

**********************************

Federal Hill/Convention Center area:

Faidley’s Seafood

Faidley’s is a classic Baltimore seafood experience, and if you’re searching for crab cakes, look no further. Although you can get freshly shucked raw oysters, amazing cole slaw, cheap beer, and a variety of other seafood at Faidley’s, its crab cake steals the show – one of the best, and most informal, in Baltimore. The space has several long tables with no chairs (standing only), and you order at the counter. Although you can get fresh steamed crabs to go as well, picking crabs is probably more enjoyable elsewhere – a place with chairs, for example. Faidley’s is part of the historic Lexington Market, an interesting assemblage of indoor shops, restaurants and stalls. If you’re interested in walking, Saturday morning is the best time to go, as the Market isn’t in the best part of town.

Hersh’s Pizza & Drinks

Located in historic Federal Hill, Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks has, as you might hope, great pizza, beers, and cocktails, in addition to housemade pasta and other great food. A favorite among Baltimore’s chefs and foodies alike, Hersh’s is well-loved and definitely not one to miss.

Ryleigh’s Oyster

Also located in Federal Hill, Ryleigh’s has a great raw oyster selection, craft beers, and slightly elevated bar staples, like salads, wings, and burgers. Their highlight, however, is Shore Night: every Tuesday from 5-10 PM, Ryleigh’s offers $3 crabs, $1 oysters, with various happy hour drink specials. Make sure you get there early, as space fills up fast!

Fell’s Point:

Peter’s Inn

A former dive bar in historic Fells Point, Peters Inn is a casual farm-to-table restaurant featuring food with an upscale presentation and locally sourced ingredients. They don’t take reservations, but they have a fully stocked bar to ease the wait.

Thames St. Oyster House

Widely regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in the city – if you want to see what Baltimore has to offer, skip Phillips and try the Thames St. Oyster House. Local tip: their lobster roll is incredibly popular and regularly wins national awards. Those against seafood beware; the menu is almost exclusively fish and shellfish.

Rye

Rye doesn’t serve food, but the establishment boasts a fully stocked bar, handcrafted cocktails, and is undoubtedly a destination for all those who appreciate dark liquor. The menu has a wide selection of rye, scotch, and bourbon that pairs well with the hip yet classic atmosphere.

Harbor Area:

Wit & Wisdom

Located within the Four Seasons Hotel, Wit & Wisdom is one of many bars and restaurants within the newly updated Harbor East neighborhood. It’s classy and upscale (definitely not cheap!) but the food and drinks are hard to beat, as is the view of the Inner Harbor. There’s a special happy hour menu with a selection of affordable snacks for those who want to sample the fare but are more budget-inclined.

Fleet Street Kitchen

Located between Harbor East and Little Italy, Fleet Street Kitchen is a great place to go if some people in your dining party are interested in seafood, while others are inclined towards more terrestrial selections. The menu is seasonal, and they have a full array of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Elsewhere around the city:

Woodberry Kitchen (Woodberry)

Although a bit of a hike from downtown, Woodberry is definitely worth a visit. The owner and head chef, Spike Gjerde, is the 2015 James Beard Award winner for best chef in the mid-Atlantic, among other things. Woodberry boasts locally sourced ingredients (from the fish, to the vegetables, to the bread baked in-house), clever, inventive cocktails, great preparation, and a menu that changes daily. Be sure to make reservations – the tables are always full.

Parts and Labor (Remington)

Another more recently opened restaurant opened by Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen (above). Open hearth, amazing meat selection (burgers, steaks, charcuterie), and a full bar to boot.

Di Pasquale’s Marketplace (Highlandtown)

Highland town is, again, quite a hike from downtown, but this small Italian market and deli has amazing sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, pasta, and other Italian staples. If you have the time, it’s an amazing place for lunch, but they close at 6.

The Food Market (Hampden)

Another local favorite, the Food Market is a fairly new restaurant featuring American cuisine and great cocktails. If you can’t get a private seat, you can always sit at the community table!

Crab houses:

Ryleigh’s Oyster (Federal Hill)

As I mentioned above, on Tuesday evenings Ryleigh’s transforms from an oyster bar into a temporary crab house. Although not on the water, $3 crabs and $1 oysters is a great deal, and the grilled corn on the cob is delicious.

Nick’s Fish House (Riverside)

Nick’s is located a bit to the south of Federal Hill. It’s a fairly big, recently renovated establishment with a large deck directly on the water. They have just about everything “crab” that you can imagine (steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab dip, crab pretzels, cream of crab soup, Maryland crab soup… you get the idea), but they also have a variety of other options, from seafood to burgers. And yes, you can get beer in a bucket.

LP Steamers (Locust Point)

LP Steamers is frequented by locals, and is a very “Baltimore” establishment – not fancy in the least, completely casual atmosphere. Located near Fort McHenry, LP’s has a full bar on the first floor, with steamed crabs on the open-air second floor. Although not on the water, it’s as close to a classic Baltimore summer dining experience as you can get.

If you’re interested in further getting to know how Charm City eats and drinks, my friend and local foodie Amy Langrehr has a wonderful blog, Charm City Cook, which is chock-full of information about local restaurants, food, and cocktails.