Category Archives: Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 40 – An early Christmas present

A history of the use of holly

Kissing under the mistletoe – why do we do it?

Advent botany – plants used to celebrate Christmas around the world

More advent botany – this time from Jeanne Osnas

At this time of year you are quite likely to find butterflies in the house – this is what you should do with them

Fascinating video about the evolution of humans with a haunting soundtrack

Turns out we can’t blame Jimi Hendrix or Katherine Hepburn for the UK’s parakeets 🙂  If you want to read the scientific version it it is here

Turning science into fiction – check it out

Why don’t modern day scientists write like Darwin?

Long live the apostrophe – we need them desperately

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 39 – conservation, trophy hunting, palm oil, Charles Darwin, kale and much more

An example of the double-think of creationists  – evolution doesn’t exist but natural selection does!

On the practice of naming new species after awful people

To boycot palm oil or not – this conservation biologist makes a good case for not

The lengths some people go to complete their collections

Wonderful story about Art Shapiro’s long-tem data set, 47 years and counting

Kale, I can’t stand the stuff, but clever marketing has convinced a lot of people that it is great 🙂

Did you know that Charles Drawin drew more than one tree of life before deciding on the one we all know?

Fascinating spider facts and photographs from Ray Cannon

Interesting read about what happened when some conservation scientists suggested that banning trophy hunting might be bad for conservation efforts

Are you concerned about an insect apocalypse? For starters, kill your lawn.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 38 – a very mixed bag

The problem with ‘Sugar Daddy’ science, why state funding is better

Simon Leadbeater on rewilding a planation woodland

Did you know that Scotland has rain forests?

Some advice on writing papers from novelist Cormac McCarthy

Making cities greener – what we can do and what benefits result

If you like the Moomins you will appreciate this

Clothing accessories that pay homage to the insect world; some other animals too 😊

Freedom of press and environmental protection – did you know that they are linked? Jeff Ollerton and colleagues explore this interesting topic

Working from home might not be as stress-free as you think – go to work instead

Did you know that there are more male specimens of birds and mammals in museum collections than females? Press release here, actual paper here

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 37 – gleanings from the virtual bookshelf not the one in my office

Depressing news for taxonomists – too specific a title limits your citation rate

Hilarious – A periodic table…of scientists!

Interesting research that suggests trees might improve academic performance in schools in deprived areas

Plastic, plastic everywhere – biobeads litter our beaches

Talk about precision application – using bees to apply fungicide to crops

What maps get wrong – how the projection maps use distorts our picture of the World

A road can be moved a, ecologically important raised bog cannot – planners need to think harder

Who publishes in predatory journals and why they do it – surprisingly quite a few authors report a positive experience

This comment by ecologist Thomas Crowther caused a huge Twitterstorm from ecologists – I must admit I found it rather offensive too “ “The point is, I don’t believe it’s science until you’ve put it in that context: I can say ‘that bird is flying weirdly’ — that’s not science; that’s what most of ecology is at the moment. It’s natural history.” The full story is here.

And see this excellent post by Manu Saunders on science communication and how not to do it

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 36 – something for everyone?

May Berenbaum has written an excellent editorial on the many failings of journal impact factors

Wow, a caterpillar that ‘shouts’ at would be predators

Ray Cannon writes about the wonders of dragonfly wings

More on insect declines, their causes and ways to minimise them

A pair of researchers found evidence that the insect population in a Puerto Rican rainforest was in free fall. But another team wasn’t so sure.

Failing exams doesn’t stop you becoming a professor

Why you should get out more – Visitors to urban greenspace have higher sentiment and lower negativity on Twitter

The Understory – excerpted from Robert MacFarlane’s recent book, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, “The Understory” is an examination of the life beneath the forest floor.

A fun visual time-line highlighting 100 years of UK forestry

Lovely obituary of a forest entomology legend – C.S. (Buzz) Holling

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 35 – a real mixture from art to science

When tree planting actually damages ecosystems – interesting article from Kate Parr and Caroline Lehmann

What natural smaller changes in climate have done to human civilisations should really make us worry about what lies ahead

Studying the history of science is more than the interpretation of ‘landmark’ texts but must involve following ideas in circulation- studying both the people speaking on behalf of the dead scientists and the consumers of that information. Mendel as an example in this blog from the John Innes Centre.

Urbanisation of water courses has detrimental effects on damselflies

Mating damselflies from Ray Cannon’s excellent site

This recent paper suggests that plant sucking bugs feeding on plants (in this case citrus trees) where the levels of neonicitinoid insecticides are too low to kill the pests, can instead kill beneficial insects that feed on the honeydew produced by the pests

Do we realize the full impact of pollinator loss on other ecosystem services and the challenges for any restoration in terrestrial areas? Interesting article from Stefanie Christmann

Collaborating with artists to improve science communication

On a similar line, Peter Pany and colleagues at the University of Vienna, have come up with an idea to cure plant blindness or as they put it “to encourage plant vision

This artist’s oil paintings of women are considered the most realistic in the World

 

2 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 34 – a very mixed bag

UK Butterfly numbers continue to nosedive, figures show

Not just in the UK, evidence of butterfly abundance declines in parts of the USA too

Fascinating read from Ray Cannon’s blog  – Polymorphic mating in bumblebee hoverflies

How ethically should we treat insects?

Can we grow crops without plant protection products – see this review by the European Commission for an in-depth analysis

Sloppy science – whose problem?

To me this is a perfect example of what happens when people pay to publish and publishing is outwith the control of learned societies – how this got through peer review is hard to fathom!

Science is in trouble when the getting of grant funding is seen as an end in itself rather than a means to the end of doing good research

Richard Jones asks how many ant fossils should there be?

Why lime trees (Tilia cordata) can kill bees.

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick and Mix 33 – resilience, entomophagy, entomology, the windscreen phenomenon and writing habits

How resilent is your garden?

Angela Saini’s third book, Superior: The Return of Race Sciencemakes the compelling case that scientific racism is as prevalent as it has ever been, and explores the way such backward beliefs have continued to evolve and persist and here is a review

They may be small but they can move very large distances – insect migration in the news

Edible insects? Lab-grown meat? The real future food is lab-grown insect meat

Good advice from Megan Duffy on writing your discussion – to be sure

Aphids are wonderful – a long time ago they borrowed some virus genes to help them decide when to produce winged individuals

Here Stephen Heard defends the use of parenthicals

Botanists are arguing amongst themselves as to whether plants have brains or not – what do you think?

What sort of conservationist are you?

Manu Saunders on the windscreen phenomenon – another viewpoint on insect declines

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick and Mix 32 – something for everyone?

Can writing poetry make you a better scientist?

A great story about the history of a butterfly’s name from Steve Heard and it has a poetical connection

Here Judy Fort Brenneman writes about keeping your writing short and sweet

Is it just me or do conservation biologists need to learn to write without jargon?

Some species of wasps are capable of logical reasoning

An interesting Open Access paper about how being on social media and taking selfies helps make scientists appear more human to the general public

With the population of the distinctive species in decline, cities around the U.S. are trying to add monarch-friendly spaces.

Novel approaches to crop protection – replacements for conventional insecticides?

Terry McGlynn on the joys of not having to worry about publishing or chasing grants

Jeremy Fox over on Dynamic Ecology discusses the results of his poll on the biggest problems facing ecological research

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick and Mix 31 –  questions and answers

Sammy Borras Illustrator

 

Evelyn Cheeseman – entomologist extraordinaire in her own comic strip

Why I love aphids – soldiers, eusociality, plasterers

What’s the buzz about pollinators? Scott McArt from Conrell University explains in this video

Wildlife-friendly farming increases crop yield: evidence for ecological intensification

Tony Juniper wonders how Winston Churchill would have reacted to the threat of climate change

Jeff Olleton asks if the angry response of (some) environmentalists in the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire reasonable?

This one from Dynamic Ecology  on “Quantifying the life histories of ecological ideas”  is definitely for ecology nerds, but I found it very interesting J

How biodegradable is biodegradble plastic anyway?

What is the impact of journal impact factor on promotion, tenure and appointment of academics?

Terry McGlynn asks if some people are just innately smarter than others.  What do you think?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix