An Early Career Ecologist in The NY Times = Science Communication at its Best

A toy wagon transports scientific equipment to Toolik Field Station on the North Slope of Alaska (parked here beneath the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline). Photo Credit: Mike SanClements, 2012.

Field work is often the basis of ecological research. It allows researchers to directly assess the natural world and its many complexities. It also gives us access to many things we rarely encounter in our daily lives . . . Adventure? Definitely. Awesome landscapes? Duh. The Arctic? Yep. Wait, what? No, way. Who works in the Arctic? Now, that’s worth writing home about!

And, that is precisely what one of our very own ecologists, Dr. Mike SanClements, did following his most recent trip to the Toolik Field Station in Alaska’s Arctic Tundra. Check out his field notes on his adventures in climate change research via The New York Times’ Dot Earth blog: Creating a Vital Long View for Gauging Environmental Change. The best science (and scientist) is pounding the pavement and communicating with the masses. Go, Mike!

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Conservation photography as more than just a hobby: Part 2

By Guest Bloggers Jerod A. Merkle with Bethann G. Merkle

In our last piece, we raised the topic of conservation research photography, and highlighted some potential uses: monitoring individuals, studying population dynamics, and researching behavioral patterns, to name a few.  We concluded with a ‘Pandora’s box’ of questions and issues facing associated with photography as a tool: photo database management, comparing and matching photos, assessing error rates, and figuring out how to apply it all to research and management questions.  What follows is a case study describing how Jerod has addressed some of these questions. Continue reading

Forty years after “The Limits to Growth”: A focus on global food production

Satellite images by Earth Observatory (2006); composition by WK Smith (2012).

By Bill Smith

“Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.  Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.  A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.” 

Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, (1798)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the seminal book The Limits to Growth, which details the first, global-scale computer model (developed by researchers at MIT) to analyze the potential future outcomes of unchecked economic and population growth in a world of limited resources.  The main factors considered by the analysis included world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion.  The take-home conclusion of the analysis was simple: if we control growth and resource consumption, a “stabilized world” is achievable (Figure 1a); if growth and consumption continues unchecked, “overshoot and collapse” is the only system response (Figure 1b).  So how has humanity responded since the publication of this thought-provoking, anxiety-inducing analysis …

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Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Nate Hough-Snee

The Arctic Ocean outside of Kaktoviak, AK, USA 2006.

I have always struggled to describe the rise of my interest in ecology or how I became an ecologist. At this point, asking me why and how I became an ecologist is kind of like asking a backcountry snowboarder why he or she is checking the weather every 30 minutes. Ecological research and restoration have become a part of my identity – it’s just what I wake up thinking about. Oddly though, I never really anticipated that things would turn out this way. Eventually, I ended up in the woods, on the river and out in the muskeg. To narrate this I’ll focus on a few anecdotes that, in hindsight, determined the R-squared of how I became an ecologist. Continue reading

Conservation photography as more than just a hobby: Part 1

By Guest Bloggers Jerod and Bethann Merkle

An Introduction to our Guest Bloggers:

Jerod is a wildlife research biologist who hails from Arizona and Montana and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Université Laval (Québec, Canada).  His wife, Bethann, is a communications consultant, author, artist, and educator who hails from Montana.  They became interested in writing for our blog, as they were “intrigued by the premise of the Early Career Ecologists blog because we are both under 30 years of age, work actively in ecology and scientific communication, and often discuss how important it is to communicate about this work across disciplines and beyond academia.”  Jerod and Bethann enjoy collaborating on personal and professional projects, including this article about one aspect of Jerod’s current research project.

Conservation Photography

Facial recognition in humans is important for identifying and monitoring criminal behavior.  For ecological conservation, identifying individuals is important for estimating and monitoring ecological parameters such as survival, reproduction, and habitat selection.  Ultimately, recognizing individual humans and wild animals offers social and conservation benefits. Continue reading

Politics aside, can climate change and science policy be successful?

By Kelly Ramirez

This past week my fellow ECEcol contributors have posted on climate change science, public perceptions, and the need for action. With election results in and Barack Obama the clear winner, what does this mean for the climate change and environmental policies of the US, and the world?

How will the Obama Administration move forward with climate change policy? Photo credit: Kelly Ramirez, 2012

While there was a collective sigh of relief across the country by democrats, the scientific community is still holding its breath. How will President Obama’s environmental policy evolve over the next four years? Continue reading

Climate Change Series– It’s a wrap!

By Kristin Marshall, Sarah Bisbing, and Mike SanClements

A quick review and wrap-up on our climate change series.  We hope we’ve provided you all with some new information and resources and convinced at least a few of you to put global climate change on your radar. In case you missed one of the posts, here are the links to all of them:

Part 1 – Climate Change for Beginners: the Uninformed, the Skeptics, and the Deniers

Part 2 – Climate Change Silence: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Part 3 – Winning Over the Climate Change Skeptics

Part 4 – Unconvinced that climate change action demands immediate action? Think again!
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