Category Archives: Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 44 – some things to ponder while you practice social distancing

The Swiss do more than make cuckoo clocks – they (well some of them) subvert maps J

Great summary of the latest special issue in Insect Conservation & Diversity by Manu Saunders

We need to get out more – interesting paper on the health benefits of being outside and getting dirty

Interesting post from Miles King on education and his thoughts about why it should be student centred rather than league table centred and include getting outside more

Will the Covid-19 epidemic have a silver lining for the green economy?  Not necessarily writes James Murray of BusinessGreen

Something to visit when the pandemic is over – The Linnean Society celebrates the achievements of their first female fellows

Something to help you get through these days of social distancing – watch these springtails jump and then go outside and find some yourself, but do keep away from other peopel

The ecological mystery of a Stink Bug swarm far out to sea – what does it tell us about colonisation of the Galapagos Islands?

Somewhat related is this old post of mine about long distance migration in aphids

Finally, if you haven’t come across the word defining site Sesquiotica, I can definitely recommend it, sometimes poetry, sometimes prose, but always enlightening

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 43 – more snippets from the web

Manu Saunders on the rights and wrongs of altmetrics and other measures of impacts

From a few years ago, but worth a read,  How Birds are Fooled by Ladybird Mimicry and Why Spiders are Amazing

I had never heard of this plant – interesting post from Markus Eichhorn – Kratom – when ethnobotany goes wrong

Megan Duffy on the work-life balance conundrum.  Something we should all think hard about.

Insect numbers may be in decline but some are expanding their ranges – latest research from Charlie Outhwaite and colleagues shows that not all is doom and gloom, although as you might expect, it is not simple

A whole issue of the journal Insect Conservation & Diversity is dedicated to the subject of insect declines and otherwise, and what we might do about it. Free to access for a year.

Do bees have consciousness?  Not proven yet but Lars Chittka thinks that the fact that they can solve Molyneux’s problem may suggest they might

On the other side of the coin, in an attempt to reduce insect numbers, in this case the Diamondback moth, entomologists in the USA report on the first field release of a genetically modified, self-limiting insect

The end of farming? Interesting read but can this approach feed the world?

Cover letters – why bother? I don’t so why should you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 42 – Scan, click, enjoy

Can you pass the British fungi challenge?

Interesting article about how the Victorians tried to get closer to Nature by using insects as jewellery

The best science communication is done by telling a story – thanks to Terry McGlynn for the link

More evidence that beetle diversification was linked to the rise of flowering plants after all.

Markus Eichhorn on the need to decolonise biogeography – link to original paper here

Unlike politicians, good scientists are willing to admit they make mistakes and take steps to rectify them.  Here Kate Laskowski, tells the story of how she discovered errors in her data and what she did about it.

Is it racist to say that Prince Albert was German?  Miles King ponders on the furore a Horrible History skit caused

Interesting article from a former student of mine, Tom Oliver, also a book plug 🙂

Here my favourite Dipterist and fellow wine aficionado, Erica McAlister @FlygirlNHM talks about where she works

And to finish of this week’s selections – here from GrrlScientist, is a summary of two important papers about the now undisputed fact that insect populations are in decline, and importantly what we as individuals and governments, could and should be doing about it.  Insects may be small but they are the little things that run the world.

1 Comment

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 41 – some links to entertain and inform

Which species do we save – so many to choose from and not enough money

The moths of Whittingehame – following in the footsteps of Alice Blanche Balfour

The science behind prejudice – do cultures grow more prejudiced when they tighten cultural norms in response to destabilizing ecological threats?

Did bird vaginas evolve to fight invading penises?

Procrastination in academia – most of us do it – here is a scientific exploration and analysis – be warned it is riddled with jargon

What goes on inside an aphid and why Nancy Moran does what she does

James Wong examines the evidence (or lack of) for an impending “agricultural Armageddon”

Here Patrick Barkham recommends some books about Nature and muses on how we as individuals can make a difference

Overlooked and underused crops – a possible solution to the food crisis?

Great pictures and story – all about swallowtail caterpillars and their defence mechanism – another tour de force from Charlie Eiseman

Leave a comment

Filed under 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