[ECOLOG-L] PhD: Coimbra Portugal: Reproduction of invasive weeds

2012-05-28 Thread Daniel Montesinos
We are looking for candidates that want to apply for an FCT (Portuguese 
Foundation for Science and Technology) doctoral fellowship to join us at 
the Centre for Functional Ecology (cfe.uc.pt) of the Department of Life 
Sciences of the University of Coimbra (Portugal).


The successful candidate will be expected to develop his/her research 
within the framework of the European project ReproWeed, which will 
investigate the creation of reproductive barriers between native and 
non-native ranges of the invasive weed Centaurea solstitialis. The 
research involves laboratory and field-based work and involves the 
interaction with an international network of collaborators, with the 
possibility to travel to California, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Turkey 
and Spain.


The candidate should have a good scientific background, with an interest 
into reproductive and evolutionary ecology of invasive weeds, and 
willingness to learn genetic molecular techniques. A good knowledge of 
the English language, experience with molecular techniques and 
ecological statistics is highly desirable. *Candidates should be 
Portuguese or permanent residents *and comply with the conditions to be 
a candidate for the FCT Doctoral Grants (BD; see previous year 
conditions at: https://www.fct.pt/apoios/bolsas/regulamento2011.phtml.en).


The doctoral fellowship includes a monthly payment of 980 euros 
(tax-free), plus an accident insurance and a monthly contribution to the 
Portuguese Social Security system (full healthcare and retirement, but 
no unemployment benefits). The project ReproWeed will cover for all 
research costs, including travels, attendance to conferences, etc. The 
scholarship is renewable for up to four years, at the end of which the 
candidate is expected to defend his or her PhD. dissertation thesis.


A call for fellowship applications will be open until June 21, 2012 but 
contacts should be made before June 15, at 5pm CET. Interested 
candidates should send a covering letter describing their research 
interests and experience, a CV, and the contact information for up to 
three professional referees to Daniel Montesinos 
(danimontesi...@gmail.com) or Sílvia Castro (scas...@bot.uc.pt). 
Informal inquiries are welcome.


More informations about the group:

http://www.mendeley.com/profiles/daniel-montesinos/
http://cfe.uc.pt/scastro
http://www.uc.pt/en/fctuc/ID/plantecolevol

--
-
Daniel Montesinos
Centro de Ecologia Funcional
Universidade de Coimbra
Apartado 3046
3001-401 Coimbra, Portugal
T: (+351) 239 855 238 (ext. 139)
http://cfe.uc.pt/daniel-montesinos
http://www.mendeley.com/profiles/daniel-montesinos
-


[ECOLOG-L] invasive truffles

2012-05-28 Thread Matt Chew
We don’t need to have a linguistic discussion, because labeling a process
consisting of unintended arrival, survival and successful reproduction of
organisms an “invasion” is a conceptual, categorical error.  That makes it
a philosophical discussion, but hardly an arcane one.  I'll only use a few
terms borrowed from philosophy, and then only because they precisely
represent the necessary concepts.

Whether deliberately or reflexively applied to biota, “invasion” denotes
biogeographical anomaly and connotes reprehensible, willful misbehavior.  More
importantly, it always elides description or explanation and rushes to
judgment.  There are understandable reasons for doing that; either we feel
threatened, or we sympathize with someone else who feels threatened, or we
project those feelings onto things that can’t feel threatened and feel
threatened on their behalf.  All very human.  The trouble, for present
purposes, is the space where the science of ecology can add anything unique
or valuable to the discussion is limited to the descriptive, explanatory
steps we skip over in the rush to judgment.



Returning to cases, nobody who suddenly finds they can’t depend on all
locally procured truffles to be equally valuable needs an ecologist to
explain commercial value or truffle sorting.  Folk taxonomy and practical
business acumen is sufficient to the task.  Nor can an ecologist improve
the situation by simply echoing and reifying the truffle
hunter/dealer/buyer’s lament.  Worse yet, claiming from a stance of
(supposed) scientific authority, “Chinese truffles are invading Europe”
makes that statement out to be a scientific assessment.  It isn’t
scientific at all.  It neither describes nor explains any actual phenomenon.



It does, however, vaguely (and yes, pejoratively) lump the European advent
of Chinese truffles together with a broad range of reputedly deplorable
cases likewise labeled “invasive species.”  It also incidentally serves to
distinguish the bad invaders from useful species celebrated for
economically or aesthetically comporting with proximate human objectives.
That's pretty ironic, because field crops are the only plants that
effectively occupy and hold territory while completely excluding all
others.  Our mutualists are not called invasive, even when cultivating them
arguably meets defensible criteria for description as a biological
invasion. Nobody needs ecologists, ecology or an ecological education to
draw such categories.  That's why the basic ideas involved were already
worked out in the 1830s.  Explaining why they are still current among
ecologists is more of a puzzle.  It all could have ended with Darwin, and
certainly should have ended with the modern synthesis.



No so-called “invasive” species is doing anything anomalous.  None has any
capability to persist where it is unfit.  None has any responsibility to
perish where it is fit simply because it is novel there by human standards.
None is responsible for issues of time or distance. Ecologists may,
retrospectively, be able to work out the details of why particular cases
proceeded in particular ways in particular places at particular times.  What
we cannot say, in our roles as ecologists, is whether the dispersal events
leading to those cases should have occurred.



We can, of course, apply personal preferences to cases and announce whether
we like them or not.  But (contra the implications of Aldo Leopold’s ‘world
of wounds’) our preferences do not arise from an ecological education.
Neither does any privilege of holding or expressing them.  If you prefer to
maximize beta diversity, fine; you may know what that shorthand means
because of an ecological education, but preferring it doesn’t follow from
knowing precisely how ecologists describe it.  All you need to know is that
you like different “places” to be as different as possible. As an
ecologist, you should realize that the amounts and types of rapid traffic
bringing formerly isolated locations into practical contact renders such a
preference increasingly unrepresentative of the real world real plants and
animals live in.



Beta diversity means nothing until you learn its definition.  Lacking that
knowledge, you might envision something, but there is a low possibility
that anyone would randomly hit upon its accepted ecological meaning.
Unlike beta diversity, “invasion” is not a legitimate ecological term, or
even a useful shorthand.  Invasion is a common concept with a longstanding
military meaning.  It is useful as a metaphor because its meaning is stable.
Ecologists who protest that “invasion” has a specific, ecological meaning
wholly divested of its common metaphorical associations are mistaken.
Perhaps they are rationalizing our inability or unwillingness to (a)
construct a coherent, defensible ecological category or (b) abandon the
advantages of investing their personal valorization preferences with
scientific authority.


Several times I have been warned by thoughtful, 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Tamara Cushing
Forestry has undergraduate accreditation

Tammy

Tamara L. Cushing, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Forest Management and Economics
Clemson University


From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news 
[ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Jane Shevtsov [jane@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2012 11:31 PM
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

What disciplines other than engineering have departmental
accreditation at the undergraduate level?

Jane

On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM, malcolm McCallum
malcolm.mccal...@herpconbio.org wrote:
 The problem with biology education today is that there are:
 1) no standards for what the major is
 2) no accreditation governing what a department should comprise

 Europe now has accreditation for the discipline and if the US does not
 follow suit you can watch rapidly as we not only fall behind in
 biology, but basically fall like a rock in stature.

 Too many departments just wing it at the whim of the administrations' folly.
 Accreditation provides the departments with significant support and
 legitimacy in the face of those administrations that generally care a
 lot about money and little about quality or students.

 There are more of those than we care to admit.

 Look, we can't even agree whether biodiversity concepts belong in an
 intro to bio class.
 I find this not only disheartening but also frightening.  Where else
 they going to learn it, English?
 Most schools don't have an EVS course, and many never will.

 Malcolm

 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
 resea...@hiltonpond.org wrote:
 With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology, genetics, 
 and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I contend the 
 Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong with biology 
 education today.

 Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are 
 written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a career 
 in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad course to 
 make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I question the real 
 value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12 chapters deal with 
 cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are relegated to the 
 last three chapters.

 My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really 
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that 
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of 
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic 
 principles of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and 
 the like. Knowing about these things will enable students in general to 
 understand how humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such 
 understanding will help them make informed decisions about such things as 
 overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and 
 fertilizers--to say nothing of current controversial topics like global 
 climate change, fracking, etc.

 We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school 
 biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses 
 taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the 
 classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med 
 approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes 
 ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught 
 undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college students.

 Cheers,

 BILL


 On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:

 David,

 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. 
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of 
 them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and 
 pictures. Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three 
 chapters on taxonomy and systematics. The last three include populations  
 ecology, communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will 
 have to add extra material to recreate those last topics.

 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, 
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab 
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population 
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and 
 identifying biomes.

 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02

 I used those as base for the lab activities.

 Hope this helps.

 Helena



 Helena Puche, Ph. D.

 Adjunct Assistant Professor

 University of Illinois at Chicago


 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066

 845 West Taylor Street

 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu



 --- On 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread karen golinski
If this a serious question, any number of undergraduate-level professional
programs may be accredited: Landscape architecture, architecture, medical
programs, teacher education, accounting, etc.

On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 10:31 PM, Jane Shevtsov jane@gmail.com wrote:

 What disciplines other than engineering have departmental
 accreditation at the undergraduate level?

 Jane

 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM, malcolm McCallum
 malcolm.mccal...@herpconbio.org wrote:
  The problem with biology education today is that there are:
  1) no standards for what the major is
  2) no accreditation governing what a department should comprise
 
  Europe now has accreditation for the discipline and if the US does not
  follow suit you can watch rapidly as we not only fall behind in
  biology, but basically fall like a rock in stature.
 
  Too many departments just wing it at the whim of the administrations'
 folly.
  Accreditation provides the departments with significant support and
  legitimacy in the face of those administrations that generally care a
  lot about money and little about quality or students.
 
  There are more of those than we care to admit.
 
  Look, we can't even agree whether biodiversity concepts belong in an
  intro to bio class.
  I find this not only disheartening but also frightening.  Where else
  they going to learn it, English?
  Most schools don't have an EVS course, and many never will.
 
  Malcolm
 
  On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
  resea...@hiltonpond.org wrote:
  With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology,
 genetics, and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I
 contend the Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong
 with biology education today.
 
  Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses
 are written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a
 career in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad
 course to make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I
 question the real value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12
 chapters deal with cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are
 relegated to the last three chapters.
 
  My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic
 principles of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and
 the like. Knowing about these things will enable students in general to
 understand how humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such
 understanding will help them make informed decisions about such things as
 overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and
 fertilizers--to say nothing of current controversial topics like global
 climate change, fracking, etc.
 
  We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high
 school biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology
 courses taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in
 the classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the
 pre-med approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that
 emphasizes ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also
 taught undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college
 students.
 
  Cheers,
 
  BILL
 
 
  On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:
 
  David,
 
  I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L.
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of
 them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and
 pictures. Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three
 chapters on taxonomy and systematics. The last three include populations 
 ecology, communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will
 have to add extra material to recreate those last topics.
 
  I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below,
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and
 identifying biomes.
 
  Evolution links to check are:
  http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
  http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02
 
  I used those as base for the lab activities.
 
  Hope this helps.
 
  Helena
 
 
 
  Helena Puche, Ph. D.
 
  Adjunct Assistant Professor
 
  University of Illinois at Chicago
 
 
  Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
  066
 
  845 West Taylor Street
 
  Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu
 
 
 
  --- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:
 
  From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
  

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread CHELSEA LYNN TEALE
Instead of addressing
actual curriculum
(except to say I
agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of non-biologists),
I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus scientists and
current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to them
but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
to take advantage of your local museum.


At the New
York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8 colleges/universities -
research scientists are expected to engage in educational
outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures (geared
toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating concepts like
evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as Cooking
the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a single
food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its evolutionary
and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage the
public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
 Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have luck inviting the
museum mammalogist to your class to give a first-hand account of changes in
hare populations in your area.  At a minimum, the education experts at
some museums will be able to provide you with written material and
local/regional examples.  

Take your lab
sections on a behind-the-scenes tour of
museum research and collections.  Not all
museums will be able to accommodate you, but ask to see what materials are
collected and why - and hear it from the people who do that full-time.
 Such a tour could have something for everyone: herbarium, beetling tank
for cleaning bones, bird-mounting room, DNA lab, fossils being prepared, and so
on.  The anthropology collections may offer insights into human
AP and the media liaisons at larger institutions might talk about science
communication.  In a single visit you could discuss plant evolution from
19th C.
fossil collection to emerging molecular techniques, and see examples of both. 
Because so many museums formed as natural history emerged as a topic of study,
they can present biology within its historical context and from a holistic
perspective with enough ooh and aah moments to be digestible for
non-majors.  Even if the
museum does not have an active research program, their collections are still
managed by knowledgeable staff who will at least try to convince the most
anti-biology
student that a drawer of pine cones has value.  Most museum staff are
happy to do this if given sufficient advance notice and a list of topics to
touch on.  Some are featured in newspapers summarizing a project that was
recently published, so you could read the article, discuss the publication,
then meet the person and see where the magic
happened!
 
The more our state museums (and
the like) are able to demonstrate their utility to current administrators and
future voters, the better.  Use these resources as they were intended: for
the public benefit.
















Chelsea Teale
PhD Candidate, Geography
The
Pennsylvania State University
NYS Museum Research 
Collections


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Borrett, Stuart
I believe chemistry has undergraduate accreditation requirements from acs. 

Stuart

---
Stuart Borrett
http://people.UNCW.edu/borretts


On May 28, 2012, at 12:24 AM, Jane Shevtsov jane@gmail.com wrote:

 What disciplines other than engineering have departmental
 accreditation at the undergraduate level?
 
 Jane
 
 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM, malcolm McCallum
 malcolm.mccal...@herpconbio.org wrote:
 The problem with biology education today is that there are:
 1) no standards for what the major is
 2) no accreditation governing what a department should comprise
 
 Europe now has accreditation for the discipline and if the US does not
 follow suit you can watch rapidly as we not only fall behind in
 biology, but basically fall like a rock in stature.
 
 Too many departments just wing it at the whim of the administrations' folly.
 Accreditation provides the departments with significant support and
 legitimacy in the face of those administrations that generally care a
 lot about money and little about quality or students.
 
 There are more of those than we care to admit.
 
 Look, we can't even agree whether biodiversity concepts belong in an
 intro to bio class.
 I find this not only disheartening but also frightening.  Where else
 they going to learn it, English?
 Most schools don't have an EVS course, and many never will.
 
 Malcolm
 
 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
 resea...@hiltonpond.org wrote:
 With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology, genetics, 
 and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I contend the 
 Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong with biology 
 education today.
 
 Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are 
 written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a career 
 in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad course to 
 make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I question the 
 real value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12 chapters deal 
 with cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are relegated to 
 the last three chapters.
 
 My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really 
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that 
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of 
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic 
 principles of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and 
 the like. Knowing about these things will enable students in general to 
 understand how humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such 
 understanding will help them make informed decisions about such things as 
 overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and 
 fertilizers--to say nothing of current controversial topics like global 
 climate change, fracking, etc.
 
 We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school 
 biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses 
 taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the 
 classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med 
 approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes 
 ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught 
 undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college students.
 
 Cheers,
 
 BILL
 
 
 On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:
 
 David,
 
 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. 
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of 
 them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and 
 pictures. Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three 
 chapters on taxonomy and systematics. The last three include populations  
 ecology, communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will 
 have to add extra material to recreate those last topics.
 
 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, 
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab 
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population 
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and 
 identifying biomes.
 
 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02
 
 I used those as base for the lab activities.
 
 Hope this helps.
 
 Helena
 
 
 
 Helena Puche, Ph. D.
 
 Adjunct Assistant Professor
 
 University of Illinois at Chicago
 
 
 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066
 
 845 West Taylor Street
 
 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu
 
 
 
 --- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:
 
 From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
 Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
 To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
 Date: 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread David Inouye
I've had good feedback from students in my ecology and conservation 
biology classes about spending the first few minutes of each class on 
some story in the news that relates to the class.  Comments from the 
students suggested that they appreciated my effort to show them how 
the material they were learning related to life outside the classroom.


Environmental Health News, which is put out daily and you can get in 
an e-mail message, is one good source for such stories.  Here's a 
link to today's issue:
http://newsletters.environmentalhealthnews.org/read/archive?id=5587mid=42231e=inouye%40umd%2eedux=8b49b2cbhttp://newsletters.environmentalhealthnews.org/read/archive?id=5587mid=42231e=inouye%40umd%2eedux=8b49b2cb 



David Inouye 


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Francisco Borrero
Hi all,

I have read this listserv for a good while but have never wrote until now.

I already deleted several of the previous emails so I don¹t remember who
said what. However. I want to make two points:

1- Somebody suggested that a list of suggested topics were more
appropriate in an Environmental Science class than as part of a Intro.
Biology for non-majors.
I would like to suggest that perhaps something more akin to a Intro.
Environmental Science or Biology and Society, or something like that,
may be much more valuable if a group is to have a single (never
re-visited) biology class, than something more like a classic General
Biology class. Please note that I am not referring to pre-meds or the
like, which after all are a type of biological scientists. I am talking
about mechanical engineers, architects, and business people.
I sincerely believe that despite one's best intentions, the great majority
of non-major attendees of the General Biology-like class will find it
boring, irrelevant, a turn-off and learn little from it. Alternatively,
true passionate interest could be elicited from a class for at least some
topics that are much more relevant to who the students are, where they are
in their life, and what they are likely to do from then on. In fact, some
may even find true relevance between (some of) such topics and what they
are likely to do in their chosen careers.
After all, even if at a very basic level, all students would have had a
high school introduction to what DNA is, why is important, a little bit of
the history of biological and ecological thought, a cursory examination of
the types of living things, etc. Why bore them again with the topics they
have chosen not to study (by virtue of their having chosen a
non-biological major)?

Thus, perhaps a class that tries to quickly survey some major pillar
topics, without going into great detail, and then tackles current issues
on environmental quality, human impacts, population growth and resource
use, even of the relationship of the water cycle and human activities on
their effects on modifying ecosystems eliciting water and food shortages,
globally important or emerging diseases, and other topics that
non-biologists are likely to continue hearing about in their non-biologist
lives. I realize some of these topics may be though to be more relevant in
Environmental Sciences of even Earth Sciences, but so what... They impact
more the biology as perceived by non-biologists than other, purely
biological topics. This is the type of stuff we need non-scientists to
know, since after all, they will be making decisions and building things
that affect everybody else.

2- Chelsea Teale makes an excellent point - Better use can be made of
museum, nature centers and similar institutions. Beyond what they do as
depositories of natural and cultural values, and centers for research that
interests the naturalists (myself included), a major role they can play is
that of serving as resources for non-traditional education (i.e,
different that typical classroom stuff). The use of these resources for
age-groups beyond children is incredibly limited. I believe that some
creative thinking and putting into practice could enrich some adult
programs such as those of college non-biology-majors biology classes.

Cheers, Francisco.

 
Francisco J. Borrero, Ph.D.
Research Associate  Adjunct Curator of Mollusks
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
Geier Research  Collections Center
1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45203





On 5/28/12 9:45 AM, CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote:

Instead of addressing
actual curriculum
(except to say I
agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of
non-biologists),
I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus
scientists and
current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to
them
but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
to take advantage of your local museum.


At the New
York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8
colleges/universities -
research scientists are expected to engage in educational
outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures
(geared
toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating
concepts like
evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as
Cooking
the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a
single
food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its
evolutionary
and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage
the
public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
 Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have 

[ECOLOG-L] CO2 release from reclaimed marshlands

2012-05-28 Thread David Duffy
Does anyone know what the net CO2 atmospheric release from
coastal temperate wetlands would be when they are reclaimed for use for
fish or shrimp ponds or for growing terrestrial crops?

Many thanks

David Duffy

-- 

Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit
Botany
University of Hawaii
3190 Maile Way
Honolulu Hawaii 96822 USA
1-808-956-8218


Re: [ECOLOG-L] invasive truffles

2012-05-28 Thread Richard
I find this discussion very interesting, perhaps as I am in the majority
Matt describes who hadn't thought about the term invasive all that much.
 (Perhaps I should point out that my background is in how scientists and
non-scientists think about environmental systems. As such, I hope I might
have something of value to offer on the linguistic/philosophical aspects of
the discussion.)

Matt's arguments here have made me at least a partial convert.  He makes a
strong case that a negative judgment is inherent in the term invasive and
that as a result it would likely color any further discussion about the
species and ecosystems involved.

However, Matt's description of a process consisting of unintended arrival,
survival and successful reproduction of organisms doesn't seem to tell the
whole story about what people are typically referring to when they talk
about an invasive species.

Jane describes invasive as referring to either an exotic that's spread rapidly
and/or widely, or an exotic that causes effects we don't like (i.e. harm).
Matt's arguments make sense to me in their rejection of the second part of
this definition.  Since what constitutes harm is a matter of perspective
and opinion, the inclusion of harm in the definition makes the concept less
scientifically useful.  (The term succession comes to mind as an
alternate example.  It describes a process of change toward a different
ecological state that could either be desirable or undesirable, depending
on one's preferences, but there is no inherent judgment in the term itself.)

Still, the first part of Jane's definition, about an exotic species
spreading rapidly and/or widely does seem to me different enough from
Matt's definition (at least in degree) to warrant its own term--one that
might be applied both to crops and what we call invasives.

Would you still object to a more neutral term, Matt?

Thanks to both of you for the interesting discussion.

-Richard





On Mon, May 28, 2012 at 1:59 AM, Matt Chew anek...@gmail.com wrote:

 We don’t need to have a linguistic discussion, because labeling a process
 consisting of unintended arrival, survival and successful reproduction of
 organisms an “invasion” is a conceptual, categorical error.  That makes it
 a philosophical discussion, but hardly an arcane one.  I'll only use a few
 terms borrowed from philosophy, and then only because they precisely
 represent the necessary concepts.

 Whether deliberately or reflexively applied to biota, “invasion” denotes
 biogeographical anomaly and connotes reprehensible, willful misbehavior.
  More
 importantly, it always elides description or explanation and rushes to
 judgment.  There are understandable reasons for doing that; either we feel
 threatened, or we sympathize with someone else who feels threatened, or we
 project those feelings onto things that can’t feel threatened and feel
 threatened on their behalf.  All very human.  The trouble, for present
 purposes, is the space where the science of ecology can add anything unique
 or valuable to the discussion is limited to the descriptive, explanatory
 steps we skip over in the rush to judgment.



 Returning to cases, nobody who suddenly finds they can’t depend on all
 locally procured truffles to be equally valuable needs an ecologist to
 explain commercial value or truffle sorting.  Folk taxonomy and practical
 business acumen is sufficient to the task.  Nor can an ecologist improve
 the situation by simply echoing and reifying the truffle
 hunter/dealer/buyer’s lament.  Worse yet, claiming from a stance of
 (supposed) scientific authority, “Chinese truffles are invading Europe”
 makes that statement out to be a scientific assessment.  It isn’t
 scientific at all.  It neither describes nor explains any actual
 phenomenon.



 It does, however, vaguely (and yes, pejoratively) lump the European advent
 of Chinese truffles together with a broad range of reputedly deplorable
 cases likewise labeled “invasive species.”  It also incidentally serves to
 distinguish the bad invaders from useful species celebrated for
 economically or aesthetically comporting with proximate human objectives.
 That's pretty ironic, because field crops are the only plants that
 effectively occupy and hold territory while completely excluding all
 others.  Our mutualists are not called invasive, even when cultivating them
 arguably meets defensible criteria for description as a biological
 invasion. Nobody needs ecologists, ecology or an ecological education to
 draw such categories.  That's why the basic ideas involved were already
 worked out in the 1830s.  Explaining why they are still current among
 ecologists is more of a puzzle.  It all could have ended with Darwin, and
 certainly should have ended with the modern synthesis.



 No so-called “invasive” species is doing anything anomalous.  None has any
 capability to persist where it is unfit.  None has any responsibility to
 perish where it is fit simply because it is novel 

[ECOLOG-L] degree accreditation in biology

2012-05-28 Thread malcolm McCallum
Its coming soon.
Here is the European version.
http://www.societyofbiology.org/education/hei/accreditation

-- 
Malcolm L. McCallum
Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
School of Biological Sciences
University of Missouri at Kansas City

Managing Editor,
Herpetological Conservation and Biology

Peer pressure is designed to contain anyone with a sense of drive -
Allan Nation

1880's: There's lots of good fish in the sea  W.S. Gilbert
1990's:  Many fish stocks depleted due to overfishing, habitat loss,
            and pollution.
2000:  Marine reserves, ecosystem restoration, and pollution reduction
          MAY help restore populations.
2022: Soylent Green is People!

The Seven Blunders of the World (Mohandas Gandhi)
Wealth w/o work
Pleasure w/o conscience
Knowledge w/o character
Commerce w/o morality
Science w/o humanity
Worship w/o sacrifice
Politics w/o principle

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Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Warren W. Aney
The course-defining criteria should be: What do you want the students to
become because they took your course and what do you want them to do because
of what they became?  
As Francisco says, ...true passionate interest could be elicited from a
class for at least some topics that are much more relevant to who the
students are, where they are in their life, and what they are likely to do
from then on.  

Warren W. Aney
Senior Wildlife Ecologist
Tigard, Oregon

-Original Message-
From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news
[mailto:ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Francisco Borrero
Sent: Monday, 28 May, 2012 08:06
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

Hi all,

I have read this listserv for a good while but have never wrote until now.

I already deleted several of the previous emails so I don¹t remember who
said what. However. I want to make two points:

1- Somebody suggested that a list of suggested topics were more
appropriate in an Environmental Science class than as part of a Intro.
Biology for non-majors.
I would like to suggest that perhaps something more akin to a Intro.
Environmental Science or Biology and Society, or something like that,
may be much more valuable if a group is to have a single (never
re-visited) biology class, than something more like a classic General
Biology class. Please note that I am not referring to pre-meds or the
like, which after all are a type of biological scientists. I am talking
about mechanical engineers, architects, and business people.
I sincerely believe that despite one's best intentions, the great majority
of non-major attendees of the General Biology-like class will find it
boring, irrelevant, a turn-off and learn little from it. Alternatively,
true passionate interest could be elicited from a class for at least some
topics that are much more relevant to who the students are, where they are
in their life, and what they are likely to do from then on. In fact, some
may even find true relevance between (some of) such topics and what they
are likely to do in their chosen careers.
After all, even if at a very basic level, all students would have had a
high school introduction to what DNA is, why is important, a little bit of
the history of biological and ecological thought, a cursory examination of
the types of living things, etc. Why bore them again with the topics they
have chosen not to study (by virtue of their having chosen a
non-biological major)?

Thus, perhaps a class that tries to quickly survey some major pillar
topics, without going into great detail, and then tackles current issues
on environmental quality, human impacts, population growth and resource
use, even of the relationship of the water cycle and human activities on
their effects on modifying ecosystems eliciting water and food shortages,
globally important or emerging diseases, and other topics that
non-biologists are likely to continue hearing about in their non-biologist
lives. I realize some of these topics may be though to be more relevant in
Environmental Sciences of even Earth Sciences, but so what... They impact
more the biology as perceived by non-biologists than other, purely
biological topics. This is the type of stuff we need non-scientists to
know, since after all, they will be making decisions and building things
that affect everybody else.

2- Chelsea Teale makes an excellent point - Better use can be made of
museum, nature centers and similar institutions. Beyond what they do as
depositories of natural and cultural values, and centers for research that
interests the naturalists (myself included), a major role they can play is
that of serving as resources for non-traditional education (i.e,
different that typical classroom stuff). The use of these resources for
age-groups beyond children is incredibly limited. I believe that some
creative thinking and putting into practice could enrich some adult
programs such as those of college non-biology-majors biology classes.

Cheers, Francisco.

 
Francisco J. Borrero, Ph.D.
Research Associate  Adjunct Curator of Mollusks
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
Geier Research  Collections Center
1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45203





On 5/28/12 9:45 AM, CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote:

Instead of addressing
actual curriculum
(except to say I
agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of
non-biologists),
I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus
scientists and
current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to
them
but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
to take advantage of your local museum.


At the New
York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8
colleges/universities -
research scientists are expected to engage in educational
outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures
(geared
toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Hamazaki, Hamachan (DFG)
This subject all boils down to a simple question Why do I have to study (any) 
subjects that are boring, irrelevant, a turn-off, and learn little from them?  
 That's what every school age children ask their parents and educators.   Now, 
educators are asking Why do I have to teach subjects that are boring, 
irrelevant, and a turn-off to students?   

Interestingly, in this case ecologists are arguing on worth of teaching 
subjects of biology that are not of their strong interests (say, cell-DNA).   I 
am sure that a professor of cell-DNA teaching non-major biology would question 
what's the worth of teaching ecology for non-biology majors?Then, this 
begs a question, what subjects of ecology (among us ecologists) think should 
not be taught to non-biology major's class because the subjects are, say  
boring, irrelevant, a turn-off, and learn little from them?  

Toshihide Hamachan Hamazaki, 濱崎俊秀PhD
Alaska Department of Fish and Game: アラスカ州漁業野生動物課
Division of Commercial Fisheries: 商業漁業部
333 Raspberry Rd.  Anchorage, AK 99518
Phone:  (907)267-2158
Cell:  (907)440-9934


[ECOLOG-L] invasive truffles

2012-05-28 Thread Matt Chew
In response to Richard Plate’s question about neutrality: first, I suggest
that you have a look at Colautti and MacIsaac’s “neutral terminology”
proposal in Diversity and Distributions 10:135-141 (2004).  I think their
attempt was commendable, but it ultimately failed for the same reasons the
hodge-podge they were critiquing failed.  You could also look at my own
“Rise and Fall of Biotic Nativeness…” and “Anekeitaxonomy…”, both available
via academia.edu (last link below) to get a further sense of how the
current situation developed and some of its inherent weaknesses.



The primary difficulty with all categorization attempts to date has been
their anthropocentricity.  It’s clear that many families and genera of
plants and animals are represented by species on multiple continents and
islands, or in multiple, recently disjunct watersheds or distantly
separated seas.  Things got well around long before human agency provided
means of transport.  Descriptions of that process tend to default to a
gradualist approach, giving some number of arrivals per unit time as if
that represented either a typical, normal, or good state of affairs.  It’s
more reasonable to assume that dispersal events happened in clusters when
conditions favored certain kinds of transport. It’s also clear that whole
assemblages or communities are not equally transportable; some taxa are
just more so than others under a given set of conditions.



Our traditional reaction has been to sort such events into two categories:
natural and unnatural, with unnatural being synonymous with human
facilitation.  Coastal marine organisms, domesticated plants and animals
and perhaps pests of stored foodstuffs were certainly being transported
quite early on, but dependable accounts begin appearing around 1600.  I
haven’t found any clear evidence of the distinction in ancient texts, but
that may be as much a matter of limited taxonomic capability at the time as
anything else.



Unfortunately it is now practically impossible to recognize a “natural”
long range transport event.  Even the few celebrated cases (like the
historically documented arrival of cattle egrets in South America) cannot
be reliably disentangled from human agency (in that case, the inception of
forest clearing and cattle ranching in Atlantic coastal colonies). We tend
to assume, these days, that the sudden appearance of locally unfamiliar
organisms anywhere in the world is human induced, therefore unnatural (and
by implication “wrong” as an affront to either god or nature)—unless it was
done on purpose and produced a more or less intended benefit.  That
distinction had been codified by 1855.



Every scheme envisioned from the first to the most recent has used human
history or human experience as a basis for sorting biota into nominalist
(i.e., convenient) categories like natives, aliens and invasives.  That
might be fine if everyone understood nominalism and adhered to its
limitations. However, we are more readily inclined to view the world in
essentialist terms--as if apparent categories automatically correspond to
natural kinds.  Any biologist who has studied or practiced taxonomy without
being made aware of this issue has been done a disservice.



I have never encountered a successful essentialist approach to the kind of
sorting we’re discussing.  There is, for example, no objectively defensible
threshold rate of spread separating normal from abnormal dispersal, in
other words, distinguishing (by any terminology) establishment from
invasion.  Richardson, et al (Diversity and Distributions 6:93-107, 2000)
tried to do just that, but their standard was arbitrary.  Invading is
called invading because somebody feels the rate at which a population is
growing or diffusing is uncomfortably rapid.



How rapidly should a population increase or spread?  Your answer will
depend on your personal basis of comparison.  If we choose the rate at
which poplar seedlings colonize a damp sandbar, it’s pretty quick.  If we
choose pond eutrophication or deciduous forest succession it’s slower.  But
no standard is ever neutral, because the cases that attract attention and
study are those already labeled “problems” according to some human
assessment of value.  The change is altogether unwanted, or happening at a
(mentally) disturbing rate.  So not only am I not denying that people are
having problems as a result of some species introductions, I’m explaining
that our concepts are entirely based on human judgment that a problem
exists.  It is a taxonomy of problems, period.



Colautti and MacIsaac (2004) decided that a history of coevolution was more
valuable than the absence of such a history. That is a way of “smuggling”
in the natural/unnatural distinction.  The absence of such a history, being
unnatural, constituted a problem for them. Richardson, et al (2000)
actually put a single number to the threshold rate at which any plant
population diffusion becomes a problem, to similar effect.  Neither engaged

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread David L. McNeely
June _Scientific American_ has an excellent article that very effectively 
relates microbiology to the lives of students.  It considers the ecology of 
human symbiotic microbes.  More microbiology of this kind, and less 
memorization of how microbial cells metabolize could be quite meaningful in a 
non-majors (or for that matter, a majors) biology course.   David McNeely

 CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote: 
 Instead of addressing
 actual curriculum
 (except to say I
 agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of non-biologists),
 I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus scientists and
 current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to them
 but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
 to take advantage of your local museum.
 
 
 At the New
 York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8 colleges/universities -
 research scientists are expected to engage in educational
 outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures (geared
 toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating concepts 
 like
 evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as 
 Cooking
 the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a single
 food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its evolutionary
 and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
 people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage the
 public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
 specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
 skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
  Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
 seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have luck inviting the
 museum mammalogist to your class to give a first-hand account of changes in
 hare populations in your area.  At a minimum, the education experts at
 some museums will be able to provide you with written material and
 local/regional examples.  
 
 Take your lab
 sections on a behind-the-scenes tour of
 museum research and collections.  Not all
 museums will be able to accommodate you, but ask to see what materials are
 collected and why - and hear it from the people who do that full-time.
  Such a tour could have something for everyone: herbarium, beetling tank
 for cleaning bones, bird-mounting room, DNA lab, fossils being prepared, and 
 so
 on.  The anthropology collections may offer insights into human
 AP and the media liaisons at larger institutions might talk about science
 communication.  In a single visit you could discuss plant evolution from
 19th C.
 fossil collection to emerging molecular techniques, and see examples of both. 
 Because so many museums formed as natural history emerged as a topic of study,
 they can present biology within its historical context and from a holistic
 perspective with enough ooh and aah moments to be digestible for
 non-majors.  Even if the
 museum does not have an active research program, their collections are still
 managed by knowledgeable staff who will at least try to convince the most
 anti-biology
 student that a drawer of pine cones has value.  Most museum staff are
 happy to do this if given sufficient advance notice and a list of topics to
 touch on.  Some are featured in newspapers summarizing a project that was
 recently published, so you could read the article, discuss the publication,
 then meet the person and see where the magic
 happened!
  
 The more our state museums (and
 the like) are able to demonstrate their utility to current administrators and
 future voters, the better.  Use these resources as they were intended: for
 the public benefit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Chelsea Teale
 PhD Candidate, Geography
 The
 Pennsylvania State University
 NYS Museum Research 
 Collections

--
David McNeely


Re: [ECOLOG-L] invasive truffles

2012-05-28 Thread Robert Miller
Definition of INVADE

1
: to enter and spread within either normally (as in development) or
abnormally (as in infection) often with harmful effects protect the
body from invading viruses branches of a nerve invade the skin area


On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM, Matt Chew anek...@gmail.com wrote:

 We don’t need to have a linguistic discussion, because labeling a process
 consisting of unintended arrival, survival and successful reproduction of
 organisms an “invasion” is a conceptual, categorical error.  That makes it
 a philosophical discussion, but hardly an arcane one.  I'll only use a few
 terms borrowed from philosophy, and then only because they precisely
 represent the necessary concepts.

 Whether deliberately or reflexively applied to biota, “invasion” denotes
 biogeographical anomaly and connotes reprehensible, willful misbehavior.  More
 importantly, it always elides description or explanation and rushes to
 judgment.  There are understandable reasons for doing that; either we feel
 threatened, or we sympathize with someone else who feels threatened, or we
 project those feelings onto things that can’t feel threatened and feel
 threatened on their behalf.  All very human.  The trouble, for present
 purposes, is the space where the science of ecology can add anything unique
 or valuable to the discussion is limited to the descriptive, explanatory
 steps we skip over in the rush to judgment.



 Returning to cases, nobody who suddenly finds they can’t depend on all
 locally procured truffles to be equally valuable needs an ecologist to
 explain commercial value or truffle sorting.  Folk taxonomy and practical
 business acumen is sufficient to the task.  Nor can an ecologist improve
 the situation by simply echoing and reifying the truffle
 hunter/dealer/buyer’s lament.  Worse yet, claiming from a stance of
 (supposed) scientific authority, “Chinese truffles are invading Europe”
 makes that statement out to be a scientific assessment.  It isn’t
 scientific at all.  It neither describes nor explains any actual phenomenon.



 It does, however, vaguely (and yes, pejoratively) lump the European advent
 of Chinese truffles together with a broad range of reputedly deplorable
 cases likewise labeled “invasive species.”  It also incidentally serves to
 distinguish the bad invaders from useful species celebrated for
 economically or aesthetically comporting with proximate human objectives.
 That's pretty ironic, because field crops are the only plants that
 effectively occupy and hold territory while completely excluding all
 others.  Our mutualists are not called invasive, even when cultivating them
 arguably meets defensible criteria for description as a biological
 invasion. Nobody needs ecologists, ecology or an ecological education to
 draw such categories.  That's why the basic ideas involved were already
 worked out in the 1830s.  Explaining why they are still current among
 ecologists is more of a puzzle.  It all could have ended with Darwin, and
 certainly should have ended with the modern synthesis.



 No so-called “invasive” species is doing anything anomalous.  None has any
 capability to persist where it is unfit.  None has any responsibility to
 perish where it is fit simply because it is novel there by human standards.
 None is responsible for issues of time or distance. Ecologists may,
 retrospectively, be able to work out the details of why particular cases
 proceeded in particular ways in particular places at particular times.  What
 we cannot say, in our roles as ecologists, is whether the dispersal events
 leading to those cases should have occurred.



 We can, of course, apply personal preferences to cases and announce whether
 we like them or not.  But (contra the implications of Aldo Leopold’s ‘world
 of wounds’) our preferences do not arise from an ecological education.
 Neither does any privilege of holding or expressing them.  If you prefer to
 maximize beta diversity, fine; you may know what that shorthand means
 because of an ecological education, but preferring it doesn’t follow from
 knowing precisely how ecologists describe it.  All you need to know is that
 you like different “places” to be as different as possible. As an
 ecologist, you should realize that the amounts and types of rapid traffic
 bringing formerly isolated locations into practical contact renders such a
 preference increasingly unrepresentative of the real world real plants and
 animals live in.



 Beta diversity means nothing until you learn its definition.  Lacking that
 knowledge, you might envision something, but there is a low possibility
 that anyone would randomly hit upon its accepted ecological meaning.
 Unlike beta diversity, “invasion” is not a legitimate ecological term, or
 even a useful shorthand.  Invasion is a common concept with a longstanding
 military meaning.  It is useful as a metaphor because its meaning is stable.
 Ecologists who protest that “invasion” has a specific, ecological 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] invasive truffles

2012-05-28 Thread Ryan McEwan
My understanding is that exotic refers basically to a species that has
been transported by humans some time after the Columbian Exchange -which
is a phrase coined by Alfred Crosby that refers to rapid, and radical,
alteration of patterns of global commerce following the time of Columbus.
As a thought experiment, if we imagine the rate/range of species dispersal
as a global phenomenon I imagine the curve would make the hockey stick we
see with CO2 look like a teensy blip, and that species transport has been
massively altered by humans, particularly following the industrial
revolution, and this continues to intensify.  The bend in the species
dispersal curve, I imagine, is anthropogenic and very obvious.

It seems that some would call this arbitrary, but it does not seem so to
me.  In fact, this alteration in commerce changed  human societies across
much of the world.  It is real.  And, to me at least, it makes sense that
ecologists use this as a demarcation for whether something is native or
exotic.  (Exotic, of course, does not mean evil, and it does not even mean
invasive which describes population biology, not origin)

Second, I see why the term invasive seems an anthropomorphic mess, but in
practice, it does a pretty good job communicating an idea.  Land managers
and ecologists (who spend time in the field) here in Ohio readily agree on
what are the most important invasive species in the region.  It is plain to
see very strong negative effects on biodiversity of some invasive species.
Take a walk through the forest, it is obvious which species are not
playing by the rules.  What are those rules, how do some species get to
ignore them, and what happens to the ecosystem when a species acts like
this?  Those seem like good questions to me, or at least questions of
practical usefulness...

One might argue that ecological communities that have been invaded will
arrive at some kind of new equilibrium- insects will figure out how to eat
kudzu, etc.  If so, why bother?  To me, the answer basically comes back to
how much do you value biodiversity?  Are we willing to let the diversity of
ecosystems crash and wait it out?  In fact, this is what is happening over
much of the landscape.  Managers who have their eyes on invasive species
control less than a tiny speck of the total land area...if we want to
manage those specks for biodiversity (intelligent tinkerers keeping the
parts) then it seems to me pertinent to understand and manage invasions.

Ryan

--
Ryan W. McEwan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
University of Dayton
300 College Park, Dayton, OH  45469-2320



On Mon, May 28, 2012 at 12:57 PM, Richard richar...@gmail.com wrote:

 I find this discussion very interesting, perhaps as I am in the majority
 Matt describes who hadn't thought about the term invasive all that much.
  (Perhaps I should point out that my background is in how scientists and
 non-scientists think about environmental systems. As such, I hope I might
 have something of value to offer on the linguistic/philosophical aspects of
 the discussion.)

 Matt's arguments here have made me at least a partial convert.  He makes a
 strong case that a negative judgment is inherent in the term invasive and
 that as a result it would likely color any further discussion about the
 species and ecosystems involved.

 However, Matt's description of a process consisting of unintended arrival,
 survival and successful reproduction of organisms doesn't seem to tell the
 whole story about what people are typically referring to when they talk
 about an invasive species.

 Jane describes invasive as referring to either an exotic that's spread
 rapidly
 and/or widely, or an exotic that causes effects we don't like (i.e. harm).
 Matt's arguments make sense to me in their rejection of the second part of
 this definition.  Since what constitutes harm is a matter of perspective
 and opinion, the inclusion of harm in the definition makes the concept less
 scientifically useful.  (The term succession comes to mind as an
 alternate example.  It describes a process of change toward a different
 ecological state that could either be desirable or undesirable, depending
 on one's preferences, but there is no inherent judgment in the term
 itself.)

 Still, the first part of Jane's definition, about an exotic species
 spreading rapidly and/or widely does seem to me different enough from
 Matt's definition (at least in degree) to warrant its own term--one that
 might be applied both to crops and what we call invasives.

 Would you still object to a more neutral term, Matt?

 Thanks to both of you for the interesting discussion.

 -Richard





 On Mon, May 28, 2012 at 1:59 AM, Matt Chew anek...@gmail.com wrote:

  We don’t need to have a linguistic discussion, because labeling a process
  consisting of unintended arrival, survival and successful reproduction of
  organisms an “invasion” is a conceptual, categorical error.  That makes
 it
  a philosophical