Scientists are a notoriously cloistered lot.  We’re here in our ivory tower, publishing our research for each other.  This is an old model that has been going on for generations.

But here we are in the “information age” – can we do better?  Rather than fight it out in the journals, argue in the dark corners of meetings, and have paradigms evolve and shift as slowly as the review process grinds onwards – why not open up the ivory tower and let the free-for-all of ideas, thoughts, and opinions shoot ahead at full speed?   I think this is where we need to go.

After a good long working dive, there's nothing I like to do more than blog it.  Immediately.

After a good long working dive, there is nothing I like to do more than blog. Immediately.

So who am I to be so presumptuous?  I’m a marine community ecologist who, by guilt of association with a variety of people, has long been fascinated with the medium of the ‘net and it’s possibilities.  I study how biodiversity effects the function of ecosystems, and how the hurly-burly of forces in those ecosystems shapes biodiversity.  (mostly with sea squirts – hence the name – although lately I’ve been making a journey to the kelpier side)

And what is more diverse with more forms and functions than the web?  So, enjoy what you find here.  I hope it is informative, occasionally silly, and thought provoking. At the very least, I hope some of my thoughts makes you stop and think about the natural world and our place in it.  At the most, I hope I put a bee in your bonnet, and we can hash out some ideas!

7 thoughts on “about

  1. Hi Jarrett,

    I was wondering, upon browsing your Channel Islands ms in prep, what the general picture about changes in biodiversity would be if we could "see" it (I too want to see the matrix – lovely analogy btw)? I mean, it’s generally agreed upon that diversity has changed a lot, but how and when? It can increase locally and decrease globally (as discussed in Sax and Gaines 2003). Apart from changes in richness, however, how does diversity change and what are the main drivers? How does this differ among systems? You have elegantly presented shifts in community structure in your PLoS one paper. Wouldn’t it be nice with an overview of changes in richness vs, say, some measure of evenness. Many ecologists argue that it is more common that communities (ecosystems, habitats… whatever term we choose to use) would experience shifts in evenness compared to richness. How true is this I wonder. I’m not saying they are wrong but what does the evidence tell us? If I haven’t missed some important references (and please remind me if I have), statements about richness and evenness are often based on more qualitive arguments. Couldn’t one use data like the ones you’ve got from the Channel Islands to explore richness vs evenness and maybe even which drivers are most important (even though fishing effort might be hard to get at)? I’m trying to get my hand on some Swedish fisheries data and there is data from the Northeast Atlantic on copepods and other plankton. I would suspect that larger animals are more subject to changes in diversity than smaller ones (as showed by many people already). To summarise: what are the relative changes in richness vs evenness in different systems and organism groups? Do you have the answer… Or should we ask Neo?

    Just a thought.

  2. The short answer is, well, yes! Long-term data like this might be ideal for richness/evenness questions. The trick is finding long-term data sets that are, well, long-term enough! The Park Service’s program has been going on since the late 80’s, so, with about 20 years of data for some taxa, changes should be apparent. Although, I’m finding some interesting observer issues as well with this and a few other sets I’ve worked with (in a long-term data set, when the ‘lead tech’ as it were, changes over, there may be a big shift in the data). With enough time, however, this can be teased out. I think Richness changes will be the easiest to document. It’s just difficult to always attribute them to larger anthropogenic forcing if your data is local in scale. Again, using the NPS data set as an example, there is a huge variation in community states from site to site on an annual basis due to natural fluctuations. How long does such a data set need to be before we can tease out both the natural variability and the long-term trends due to anthropogenic forcing? This is particularly pressing with respect to evenness.

    If only we had data like those long-term climate modellers! Ha!

  3. Yes, time scale is a big issue. Data from one area in Sweden on bottom-dwelling fish dates back to 1901, and data (from SAHFOS) on plankton from the North Atlantic goes back at least to the early 1960’s. And maybe data from the Swedish forest monitoring program could prove to be useful as well. Perhaps I could even get some data on fish from the UK. But even with “all” that data, it’s not enough for a general overview of richness vs. evenness I suspect.

  4. Hi there,

    I am trying to earn some publicity for the Nature Conservancy’s “Adopt an Acre” project.  I would like to discuss advertising options with you. If you wouldn’t mind emailing me back that would be great.


  5. Pingback: So you want to be a marine biologist…? | dominojoyce

  6. Hello,

    we are a team of marine scientists and you caught our attention with your articles all around the
    topic of marine biology. Currently we are working on our project to support the Ocean Sampling Day
    (www.my-OSD.org), which will be the biggest crowdfunding campaign for a scientific event worldwide.
    We would appreciate if you could take the time to help us to raise awareness via a post on Twitter or
    bringing up our project in your blog. We are sure that this would be an exciting topic for your
    followers since this project is the first of its kind, charitable and involves many marine biologists all
    over the world.

    Please have a look at the OSD-Teaser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEw5AS1qo-o
    Please use our information material: http://www.my-osd.org/?page_id=503

    Best regards,
    Andreas Kreis

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