CBC news reported today that the bee parasitoid Apopcephalis borealis was found in honeybees in Canada for the first time. Photo from CBC news, "A phorid fly maggot exits a bee before becoming a pupa en route to an adult fly. (John Hafernik)". Apparently parasitoid infection alters bee behaviour - they come out at night and repeatedly smash themselves into lights. Eeek...
We've been using ImageJ/FIJI a lot in Biol411. We used it to measure elytron length for the beetle museum project. For our current class project (giant lit review on the effect of temperature on insect life history traits) we're going to use it to digitize figures from published papers. Here's how to get started, in case you want to do the same: 1. download the Figure Calibration plugin. 2. Open FIJI. 3. Go to Plugins --> install Plugin --> select the Figure Calibration plugin. Now, open the figure you want to digitize in FIJI. Draw a rectangle around the box of the figure. Go go to Plugins -> Figure Calibration. A box should come up that lets you input the x and y coordinates. Then use the point tool (or line, or whatever), to click on the spot you are interested in. Then hit 'measure'. Voila!
Eg - The figure below is from Laws and Joern 2012, Predator–prey interactions in a grassland food chain vary with temperature and food quality. Once you get the plug-in installed in FIJI, open up the figure, then draw a box on top of the axes, like I've done in red, below. The go to --> figure calibration, and input the axes. In this case, I'm not interested in the x, so I've just left it as is. I have inputted the y-lower, and y-upper. Then use the point tool to click on the top of the bar graph (hit Measure), as well as the error tick (hit Measure). Now you'll have your mean and error for each bar.
The clonal army is coming along slowly but surely. Just have to find more predators (right photo) and the science can start again.
What a treat to get this in the mail today! Feels pretty rewarding to have one of my photos on the cover of a journal (and to have an article published in the journal). Thanks to the staff at Biology Letters for going that extra step to send me a print copy.
The City of Vancouver released their Biodiversity Strategy recently. The goal of the strategy is to restore or enhance 25 ha of natural areas by 2020. The project is ambitious! It targets both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and organisms from invertebrates, to birds, to mammals. There's a section of the report on native bees, and how they propose to increase habitat for these species. I'm not sure how it's all going to happen in 4 years. They'll need to have some baseline information on species richness and population sizes; they'll need to pick where and how to restore/improve habitat, and then they'll need to repeatedly census populations again to see if their efforts actually worked. It'll certainly be all hands on deck for this project. Fingers crossed.
I've been spending some time in the Gulf Islands, and am more and more flabbergasted and astounded (flabberstounded?) by the level of species diversity found in even the tiniest rock pools. How is there enough food/light/habitat to sustain such diversity? How is selection acting in these communities? For food acquisition? Light acquisition? Competitive dominance in general? What factors determine community structure of these little pools?
Found this beaut on a walk through the Winter Cove Park, part of the Gulf islands National Park Reserve. I believe it's Dacrymyces palmatus, the orange jelly fungus. Apparently edible! Any takers?
Evolutionary Applications published a special issue this month highlighting contributions of women to basic and applied evolutionary biology. I know I should read all the science bits, but it's late, and I still have teaching prep to do, so I read all the 'personal reflections' boxes instead. I loved them. I loved reading about the different paths these amazing women took to get to where they are now, their highlights and struggles, their stories of fieldwork with kids in tow, and most of all I loved reading the advice from the experienced academics.
To quote Judy Myers (my former postdoc advisor, current mentor, and trail blazer for gender balance in ecology and evolution at UBC and in Canada): "Don't readily take ‘no’ for an answer, hire a cleaning person as soon as you can, marry someone as smart or smarter than yourself who can cook, don't be afraid to wait until after you get tenure to have children, enjoy what you do and keep smiling.".
I was fascinated by Carol Lee's account of her mother's expectations of her as a child and young adult, and her own experiences with racism and stereotyping when she moved back to the USA. She ends with the following: "The sad reality is that sometimes the people closest to you are the very ones that try to inhibit your growth or progress. Despite close contact, even they could be blinded by preconceived notions and expectations of who you are and what you should become. I have been fortunate to transcend those limitations and escape from being boxed in. In turn, I try to put my best effort into seeing people for who they are, and try to question my own assumptions and biases. I think we would all benefit from being more thoughtful, more perceptive and more mindful, and able to look beyond the surfaces."
I don't know many female Asian-American/Canadian/European Ecology/Evolution PIs, and now that I'm thinking about it, I'm hard pressed to name some.. Carol Lee, Naomi Pierce (maybe?), Tomoko Ohta... surely there must be more? I've just gone through the 1000 or so papers on my computer and the only two Asian-y female first authors that show up (other than mine) in my collection are Carol and Naomi. Hmm.
I contributed a small 'personal reflections' box to the Evolutionary Applications issue as well, and you can find it in Box 4 of the introductory article to the issue by Maren Wellenreuther and Sally Otto.
Overall, what I've learned from reading the mostly wise words from these female scientists is: surround yourself with supportive people, stay true to yourself, be passionate about your work, and have fun. Sounds good to me.
I'm excited about the class projects we're doing in Insect Ecology. The first will involve a lot of bug measuring. Thanks to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum for letting us use their collections!