Seeking a Postdoc for the Byrnes Lab!

All right, folks! The time has come – I’m looking for a Postdoc for the Byrnes lab! The text of the advert is below, but, to be brief – I’m looking for someone who is interested in asking questions relating to marine subtidal community ecology. These next two years I’m getting a program up and running looking at kelp forests, climate change, and food web structure around New England. But I want someone who comes in with some interesting ideas and plans. The goal is to do hot science and further the postdoc’s career.

So drop me a line with ideas or questions after you read this and the ad below. Application instructions are at the bottom.

The Department of Biology seeks applicants for a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant interested in obtaining postdoctoral research experience in marine subtidal community ecology, climate change, and food web ecology. The appointment will start in September 2013. The candidate will assist the lab PI, Dr. Jarrett Byrnes, in new and ongoing research projects in the lab and field. The researcher will develop a two-year project that complements ongoing work in in the lab. The researcher will also be asked to help organize and participate in field research. Other duties will depend on interest and prior experience and may include programming in R or other languages; conducting and supervising basic lab and field work; organizing and leading field expeditions to remote locales and field stations. A detailed list of Dr. Byrnes’s research is available on his web page

Applicants must hold a PhD degree or must expect to earn one on or before June 2013. One to three years of experience, training, and/or education in sub-tidal research techniques and the ability to handle supplies and items of up to 40 pounds required. Strong quantitative and programming skills, as well as boating experience are recommended. AAUS certification or equivalent is required.

Interested individuals should send cover letter, current resume and a statement of research experience and interest online:

A maximum of three recommendation letters should be sent electronically to

UMass Boston is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, Title IX employer.

PeerJ launches open access into a new realm

A service that is travelling along similar lines of what I’m interested in for open publishing has launched today. PeerJ is being pitched as a cross between PLoS ONE and arXiv and indeed the company was founded by former PLoS ONE and Mendeley folk. It’s an interesting model where authors signup with a pre-paid plan. $99 gets you unlimited public preprints and 1 peer reviewed paper per year. $169 adds unlimited private preprints and another paper per year. $259 ups you to unlimited publications. And its nice as you can chose to pay once your paper is accepted (see how it works) so an author isn’t just being fleeced. There also appear to be reasonable plans for large numbers of co-authors etc. They also require members to review once per year. Nice.

I’m still reading through all of the materials about it myself, and there’s a lot here to digest and meditate on. It still appears that review is not open – both before and after ‘publication’ – although you can publish the review-trail and previous versions along with the finished product if you’d like. But in general, this is pretty fantastic

Here are some links about the launch and useful additional reading. I’d love to know what folk out there think. Will you be using it? Time to put our money where our #openaccess mouths are? I’m thinking yes!

  • PeerJ Blog
  • PeerJ formally announced: Innovative new business model for open access at Confessions of a Science Librarian
  • An interview with the founders of PeerJ, an innovative new academic publishing startup at the Mendeley Blog
  • Scholarly Publishing 2012: Meet PeerJ at Publishers Weekly
  • Interview with Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt of PeerJ at Confessions of a Science Librarian
  • PeerJ – a brave new world? at Reciprocal Space
  • Pay (less) to publish: ambitious journal aims to disrupt scholarly publishing at Ars Technica
  • Scientific Journal Offers Flat Fee to Authors for ‘All You Can Publish’ at SciAm
  • New OA Journal, Backed by O’Reilly, May Disrupt Academic Publishing
  • The Publishing Buffet

    My question to you all – does this new entry to the publishing market solve everything? Is it a panacea? Are there things you wish it did better, or is it just the right balance?

  • Ecology in 2020?

    Today’s issue of Nature rings in the New Decade with an interesting article on where Science needs to be in 2020. With respect to Ecology, Robert Holt makes the following observation:

    A key task will be to predict and mitigate this loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem function. One step is to gauge the resilience of ecological networks such as food webs — in particular, their capacity to withstand disturbance and species loss. This will require insights from many disciplines. Stable isotope analysis and genetic bar-coding should provide a clearer picture of who eats whom in a community.

    Um. I think that describes my research program. Except the whole isotope/bar-coding thing. Damn. Add that to the list of things I need to learn, as right now, figuring out who-eats-who can be a real show-stopper! But overall, I guess I’m on the right track. Ha!

    Lytechinus: Pack Wolf of the Sea

    ResearchBlogging.orgSo, you know, I’m cruising along, trying to determine the diet of the white urchin, Lytechinus anamesus, from the literature. There’s your usual “It eats kelp” papers, a few red algae papers, and nothing else special and then – A PAPER ON LYTICHINUS EATING OTHER SPECIES OF URCHINS.

    That’s right, baby, urchin on urchin predation. Could the ocean get much weirder?

    A red urchin mobbed by the ravening horde.

    A red urchin mobbed by the ravening horde.

    Turns out, on urchin barrens (i.e., areas with such ridonculous numbers of urchins – purples, reds, and even whites – that all of the surrounding edible algae has been grazed away) when white urchins get hungry enough, they turn into little pack animals. They mob red and purple urchins (but not each other) and gnaw away at their spines and test until they reach their gooey center.

    Or, as gooey as the center of an echinoderm can be.

    I cannot resist giving lolcaptions to figures from scientific papers.  I clearly have a problem.

    I cannot resist giving lolcaptions to figures from scientific papers. I clearly have a problem.

    How intense is this predation? In lab trials, purples were mobbed within 20 minutes. 1/3 were dead by the end of the day. 90% of big fat red urchins tested were severely damaged.

    These guys are not kidding around.

    Perhaps more strangely, injured whites were left alone. Cannibalism for white urchins, apparently, is not on the menu.

    So, dear reader, if you should find yourself hanging out in an urchin barren one day, just remember, don’t turn your back or the urchins will eat you!


    (Also of note, the first author of this paper was the man who turned me into a scientific diver. Huh!)

    COYER, J., ENGLE, J., AMBROSE, R., & NELSON, B. (1987). Utilization of purple and red sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus Stimpson and S. franciscanus Agassiz) as food by the white sea urchin (Lytechinus anamesus Clark) in the field and laboratory Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 105 (1), 21-38 DOI: 10.1016/S0022-0981(87)80027-8