This Week’s Good Reads: Evolution 2015, Lost Carbon Sink, and New Pew Data

1) Climate Change: Weighing the World’s Trees, Nature News Feature, Gabriel Popkin

2) New info on what social factors predict people’s choices about controversial science issues. Take home message: It’s not always education, or political affiliation, or religion, or any other social identifier that most influences what people think. It really depends on the issue, which means each issue takes tailoring messages for a particular audience. Americans, Politics, and Science Issues, Pew Research Center, Cary Funk & Lee Rainy

3) Evolution 2015 just happened in Guarujá, Brazil. Tweets at this hashtag: #Evol2015

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4) Hybrid Zones: Windows on Climate Change, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Scott A. Taylor et al. [paywall, c’mon, TREE]

5) @AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social Media Experiment, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nathan Hall

6) Gene Expression Analysis–Are We Doing It Wrong?, The Molecular Ecologist, Melissa DeBiasse

7) Leisure Activities: The Power of a Pastime, Nature, Chris Woolston

8) Job Security for Early Career Researchers Is a Significant Factor in Helping Research Make an Impact, London School of Economics and Political Science Blog, Siobahn Phillips & Rhona Heywood Roos

9) Using Twitter to Communicate Conservation Science Beyond Professional Conferences, Conservation Biology, Sara P. Bomabaci et al. [paywall]

10) Perceptions of Manipulation and Judgments of Illegitimacy: Pitfalls in the Use of Emphasis Framing when Communicating about CO2 Capture and Storage, Environmental Communication, Gerdien de Vries et al. [paywall]

11) Sexual Conflict Maintains Variation at an Insecticide Resistant Locus, BMC Biology, Wayne G. Rostant et al. [paywall, but press release here]

12) Science Frauds Who Steal Tons of Federal Money Almost Never Go to Jail, BuzzFeed, Azeen Ghorayshi and Cat Ferguson

13) Science Is Heroic, With a Tragic (Statistical) Flaw, ScienceNews, Tom Siegfried

14) A Bayesian Approach to Mitigation of Publication Bias, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, M. Guan & J. Vandekerckhove

15) Where to See a Rare Firefly Mating Dance, NY Times, Joanna Klein

16) Monkey’s Uncles, Evolution, and the South, The Science of the South, Craig McClain

17) California Academy of Sciences is hiring 6 ecological scientists who focus on science communication and diversity in science. Job posting here.


This Week’s Good Reads: Long-Term Experiments, Symbioses, and Turtle Shells

1) Jeremy Fox did a great Q & A with Richard Lenski, who is best known for his Long-Term Evolution Experiment following colonies of E. coli since 1988. Lenski lends insight into the art of asking experimental questions, the challenges and promise of long-term experiments, and what questions he has answered and still hopes to answer with this project with no end.


From Here to Eternity–The Theory and Practice of a Really Long Experiment, PLoS Biology, Jeremy Fox and Richard Lenski

2) Rick Borchelt summarizes the findings of two new science communication studies:

How do millennials consume news?
“The key for those of us who want our news to be part of the information diets of Millennials is to match their assessments of which experts and what institutions become trusted information sources.”

Do hostile media perceptions affect action?
“the take-home message for communicators seems to be that rallying against hostile media may be an effective way to boost activism, albeit incrementally.”

Minding Millennials, Media Bias, ScienceWriters, Rick Borchelt

3) Great science communication satire here: Upvote This Post, Pleeease!, Bryn Nelson, The Last Word on Nothing


4) The Gordon Research Center’s Meeting on Animal-Microbe Symbioses happened this past week. A few people were tweeting at #GRC2015, although that hashtag appears to be confused with several different meetings that happened recently. Here are some papers that got on my radar:

Major evolutionary transitions in individuality, PNAS, Stuart West et al.

Metagenomics Meets Time Series Analysis: Unraveling Microbial Community Dynamics, Current Opinion in Microbiology, Karoline Faust et al.

Inoculation of Tannin-Degrading Bacteria into Novel Hosts Increases Performance on Tannin-Rich Diets, Environmental Microbiology, Kevin Kohl

Microbial Ecology in Hydra: Why Viruses Matter, Journal of Microbiology, Thomas C. G. Bosch et al.

Microbial Metaproteomics for Characterizing the Range of Metabolic Functions and Activities of Human Gut BacteriaProteomics, Weili Xiong

5) Blind Trust in Unblinded Observation in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution, Melissa R. Kardish et al.

6) Identification, Please, The New York Times Magazine, Helen MacDonald

7) E.P.A. Warns of High Cost of Climate Change, The New York Times, Coral Davenport

8) Could the Pope’s Encyclical Push Public Opinion to Tipping Point on Climate?, PLoS Blogs, Victoria Costello

9) How the Turtle Got Its Shell, NPR, Nell Greenfieldboyce

10) Once and Future Nut: How Genetic Engineering May Bring Back Chestnuts, NPR, Jill Neimark

11) Why Doesn’t Everyone Believe Humans Are Causing Climate Change?, NovaNext, Brad Balukjian

12) Lost in ‘Third Space': The Impact of Public Engagement in Higher Education on Academic Identity, Research Practice and Career Progression, European Journal of Higher Education, Richard Watermeyer

13) When Publishers Aren’t Getting It Done, Medium, Neil B. Christensen

This Week’s Good Reads: The Elusive Source of Ebola, the Natural History of Model Organisms, and Whistling Caterpillars

1) Seeking the Source of Ebola, National Geographic, David Quammen

2) “Most people would think it’s a bad thing to be a lightning rod, and I cannot say I enjoy it,” [Oreskes] said. “But remember, the whole purpose of a lightning rod is to keep people safe.” – Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate, NY Times, Justin Gillis

3) Deborah Blum, a journalist present when Tim Hunt made his now infamous comments (detailed last week) about “girls” in science labs, has presented two really great commentaries on why the arguments mourning for Hunt do not hold up to what actually happened:

Sexist Scientist: I Was Being “Honest,” The Daily Beast, Deborah Blum

Tim Hunt “Jokes” About Sexist Scientists. Or Not., Storify, Deborah Blum

4) The Natural History of Model Organisms: The Secret Lives of Drosophila FlieseLife, Therese Ann Markow

5) DDT Linked to Fourfold Increase in Breast Cancer Risk, National Geographic, Lindsey Konkel

6) Trading the Pipette for the Pen: Transitioning from Science to Science Writing, The Open Notebook, Julia Rosen

7) A Tipping Point? Nature Angers Science Journalism Corps with Short Kennewick Man Embargo, Embargo Watch, Ivan Oransky

8) Science News Consumption Patterns and Their Implications for Public Understanding of Science, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Leona Yi-Fan Su et al.

9) Federal Agencies Lose Track of Endangered Species Protection Measures, Research Finds,, Ilene Fleischmann

10) The Web Will Either Kill Journals or Save Them, Wired, Julia Greenberg

11) 6 Misconceptions About Saving the Bees, American Scientist, Kaitlin Stack Whitney

12) Podcasts Are Saving NPR, Wired, Julia Greenberg.

13) Collective Intelligence, Buzz Hoot Roar, Roar

14) Why Whistling Caterpillars Scare Birds, Science News, Susan Milius

15) ComSciCon’s annual national workshop happened this week. You can check out the program here. And check out the Twitter conversation at #ComSciCon

16) Across the big pond, the British Science Association held the Science Communication Conference 2015. Check out the conversation on Twitter at #SciComm15.

This Week’s Good Reads: Ecologists’ Favorite Statistical Methods, How Biodiversity Inhibits Parasites, and Distractingly Sexist Scientists

1) Last week, I discussed the NY Times’ coverage of retractions in science, which failed to acknowledge that more retractions actually could mean science is doing a better job of outing bad science. Although it’s far from ideal that these retractions happen at all, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky wrote this week about how the outing of questionable science has changed, and why that’s a good signal: The Lessons of Famous Science Frauds, The Verge, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky

2) Interesting blog on what statistical methods are used most in ecology, and the increase in using AIC: Why AIC Appeals to Ecologist’s Lowest Instincts, Dynamic Ecology, Brian McGill

Data McGill found from methods in Ecology Letters in 2004 and 2014:

Method          2004          2014

Regression     41%          46%

Significance   40%           35%

Richness        41%           33%

Competition    46%          49%

AIC                   6%          19%

So, AIC (Akaike’s Information Criteria) methods are increasing in popularity. McGill goes on to discuss how AIC is being used and how he thinks it should be used, but the post is helpful not just because of McGill’s opinion, but also because of the more than 100 commenters’ opinions shared at the end of the post.

3) Nobel laureate Tim Hunt sparked outcry after making a sexist comment at the World Conference on Science Journalism (#WCSJ2015).

He proceeded to not really apologize for what he said, seemingly oblivious to the reasons why his “just trying to be honest” was indecent. He instead said he was “really sorry that I said what I said” (implying that he is not sorry that he meant what he said, which he confirmed in his apology) and that it was “a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists” (implying that it would be OK to say this in the presence of other people, just not journalists). Women scientists responded on Twitter with the hashtag #distractinglysexy. Before the week was over, Hunt resigned his post at UCL. Given that last week I mentioned the terrible advice in a Science Careers advice column to not say anything when dealing with sexual harassment, I think this is a perfect example of what happens when people follow such advice. I imagine this is not the first time in Hunt’s long and distinguished career that he has said something sexist, but it might be the first time he actually got the message that it was inappropriate.

4) Biodiversity Inhibits Parasites: Broad Evidence for the Dilution Effect, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, David J. Civitello et al.

5) Irreproducible Biology Research Costs Put at $28 Billion per Year, Nature News, Monya Baker

6) A pair of papers in Science talk about the advances in tracking animals, both marine and aquatic, heralding a “golden age” of studying animal movements:

Terrestrial Animal Tracking as an Eye on Life and Planet, Science, Roland Kays et al.

Aquatic Animal Telemetry: A Panoramic Window into the Underwater World, Science, Nigel Hussey et al.

7) Conference on Broadcast Meteorology happened this week; you can check out the conversations at #AMS15.

8) Why More Scientists Are Speaking Out on Contentious Issues, National Geographic, Lindsey Konkel

9) The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era, PLoS One, Vincent Lariviére et al.

10) The Dead Sea Lives!, Nautilus, Pamela Weintraub

11) The Rise of Africa’s Super Vegetables, Nature News Feature, Rachel Cernansky

12) Improving Effectiveness of Systematic Conservation Planning with Density Data, Conservation Biology, Samuel Veloz et al.

13) Public Radio and the Sound of America, Nieman Reports, Adriana Gallardo & Betsy O’Donovan

14) As Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere, PLoS Biology, Hanna Landenmark et al.

15) Meeting on Pollinators in October: Experts Convene to Discuss How to Protect Bees, Other Pollinators, NCSU News, Matt Shipman


This Week’s Good Reads: The Hyperbolome, Making Impact, and Genetic Rescue

This seems to be the week of cool meetings I missed. Including:

1) The General Meeting for the American Society for Microbiology, which you can check out at #ASM2015. Carl Zimmer spoke about the hype around microbiome research, and he coined a new word for it: the hyperbolome.

2) The World Conference on Research Integrity, which you can check out at #WCRI2015.

3) The International Public Science Events Conference, which you can check out at #IPSEC2015.

4) The Science of Team Science, held at the NIH, which you can follow at #SciTS.


1) I’ve often thought that using more accessible language would help journal articles have more impact, but at least for number of citations, that’s not true, according to a new study: In a Paradox, Study Finds That Long, Jargon-Laden Abstracts Make for More Citations, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mary Ellen McIntire. But there are other ways that making one’s work accessible can lead to indirect career benefits and impact, not that that should be one’s sole goal, ethically speaking, as this NY Times article discusses: Academics Seek a Big Splash, NY Times, Noam Scheiber. Of course, there are other (perhaps more ethical) reasons to make one’s work accessible, as discussed in this editorial: Why We Should Help People Understand Our Scientific Literature, Conservation Biology, R. W. Abrams. All of these papers get at the question of what exactly impact is, and when it is ethical versus not, which Kirk Englehardt has discussed recently.

2) Speaking of ethics in science, check out my recent response to the NY Times editorial on cheating and retractions in science.

3) And in the big stink of the week, Science Careers published an advice column about sexual harassment in the workplace that immediately drew the rage of social media. It was quickly taken down. You can read more about that conversation here: Science, Not Sexism, Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty

4) Congratulations, You’re an Editor! What Do You Do Now?, The Open Notebook, April Reese

5) Don’t Explain So Much at Once, and Other Advice from Young Science Readers, Scientific American, Amanda Baker

6) How Conspiracy Theories Emerge on Facebook, NOVANext, Allison Eck

7) Secrets of Charles Darwin’s Breakthrough: The Real Story of How We Got to Evolution, Salon, Susan Wise Bauer

8) This One Simple Trick to Help Fight the Male Scientist Stereotype, Small Pond Science, Catherine Scott

9) Missed this blog’s lit review from a few weeks ago, but it’s evergreen enough to be relevant now, discussing several recent papers about genetic rescue and gene flow: Gene Flow and Population Fitness, The Molecular Ecologist, Arun Sethuraman

10) Ten Top Tips for Reviewing Statistics: A Guide for Ecologists,, Chris Grieves