A Video is Worth a Million Words: Why You Should Make a Video about YOUR Article

Post provided by NATHALIE PETTORELLI & CHRIS GRIEVES

Why should you make a video about your article?

Why should you make a video about your article?

With impact being considered more and more in promotion applications and REF-style (Research Excellence Framework) exercises, science communication is becoming an integral part of a scientist’s job. The problem is: most of us academics aren’t exactly trained in science outreach and our communication styles are heavily biased towards anything written, as opposed to anything visual.

With technological advancements constantly making things easier, however, more and more scientists are taking the plunge and adventuring into the world of YouTube and Vimeo to disseminate their work. But why are they doing so? Is it easy? Do you need expert help or can you do it yourself easily?

This blog post aims to answer all the questions and worries you may have as a scientist thinking of making a video about your work for the first time. To address these worries and questions in the most comprehensive way, we asked 12 authors who recently produced a video about their paper (in some cases their first) if they could give us some insights on their experience, and detail for us the challenges and benefits of choosing this style of communication. Their stories are the background to our story. Continue reading

Spatially-explicit Power Analysis: A First Step for Occupancy-Based Monitoring

Post provided by Martha Ellis and Jody Tucker

Where’s Waldo? Trying to find this fisher somewhere in a giant landscape is going to be tricky! ©Mike Schwartz

Where’s Waldo? Trying to find this little guy somewhere in a giant landscape is going to be tricky! © Mike Schwartz

The seemingly basic question of whether a population is increasing, decreasing, or stable can be one of the most difficult to answer. Collecting data on rare and elusive species is hard. Imagine trying to detect a handful of fisher or wolverine across hundreds of thousands of acres – it is physically demanding, time consuming and logistically complicated. And that’s just to do it once! To monitor a population for changes, you have to repeat these surveys regularly over many years. The long-term monitoring that is necessary for conservation requires careful planning and a substantial commitment of resources and funding. So before we spend these valuable resources, it’s critical to know whether the data we are collecting can help us to answer our questions. Continue reading

Issue 7.4

Issue 7.4 is now online!

The April issue of Methods is now online!

This month’s issue contains two Applications articles and one Open Access article, all of which are freely available.

CPW Photo Warehouse: freely available software that has been customized to identify, archive, and transform photographs into data formats required for statistical analyses. Users navigate a series of point-and-click menu items that allow them to input information from camera deployments, import photos and store data. Images are seamlessly incorporated into the database windows, but are stored separately.

SIMR: An R package that allows users to calculate power for generalized linear mixed models from the lme4 package. The power calculations are based on Monte Carlo simulations. It includes tools for (i) running a power analysis for a given model and design; and (ii) calculating power curves to assess trade-offs between power and sample size.

Continue reading

Biggest Library of Bat Sounds Compiled

Below is a press release about the Methods paper ‘Acoustic identification of Mexican bats based on taxonomic and ecological constraints on call design‘ taken from the University College London.

The Funnel-eared bat (Natalus stramineus)

The Funnel-eared bat (Natalus stramineus)

The biggest library of bat sounds has been compiled to detect bats in Mexico – a country which harbours many of the Earth’s species and has one of the highest rates of species extinction and habitat loss.

An international team led by scientists from UCL, University of Cambridge and the Zoological Society of London, developed the reference call library and a new way of classifying calls to accurately and quickly identify and differentiate between bat species.

It is the first time automatic classification for bat calls has been attempted for a large variety of species, most of them previously noted as hard to identify acoustically. Continue reading

Space-time continuum and conservation planning: Helping Species Adapt to Climate Change

Post provided by Diogo André Alagador

The world’s most threatened felid (Iberian lynx) is endemic in a region predicted to be severely impacted by climate change: the Iberian Peninsula. ©lynxexsitu.es

The world’s most threatened felid (Iberian lynx) is from a region predicted to be severely impacted by climate change: the Iberian Peninsula. ©lynxexsitu.es

Climate change is driving many species to alter their geographic distributions. The ranges of some species contract, expand or shift as individuals track favorable climate conditions. In some cases, threatened species are moving out of protected areas. These trends are expected to intensify in the coming years.

To increase conservation effectiveness within protected areas in the future, researchers at the Research Center on Biodiversity and Genetic Resources at the University of Évora and the Department of Mathematics of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology from the NOVA University in Lisbon, Portugal, have come up with a set of modelling tools to optimize the scheduling of conservation area allocation as the climate changes. These take into account restrictions of conservation area expansion derived from the prevailing socio-economic activities. “The objective is to select the best dispersal corridors for each species considering a budget restriction or competition with other socioeconomic activities” said Diogo Alagador. “These selections are complex and non-trivial as they incorporate decisions on the spatial and temporal trends of large sets of species.”

The concept of a spatio-temporal corridor for a species in an environmental heterogeneous region.

The concept of a spatio-temporal corridor for a species in an environmental heterogeneous region.

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Stage-dependent Demographic Modelling at Your Finger Tips

Post provided by EELKE JONGEJANS and ROB SALGUERO- GÓMEZ

Soay sheep: an organism that can be modelled with two-sex dynamics. ©Julian Paren

Soay sheep: an organism that can be modelled with two-sex dynamics. ©Julian Paren

Typically, ecology courses contain at least a day of matrix population models. So most ecologists are somewhat familiar with how simple life cycles (and complex ones) can be depicted and analysed using matrix models. Briefly, these models represent what happens to individuals over a certain time interval (do they die? do they reproduce? if so, how much?). What individuals do in the context of these models can then be used to study the dynamics of a population.

Often, individuals are classified by size in matrix models, as small individuals tend to have different survival, growth and reproduction rates than large ones. But how many classes do you need to model the dynamics of a size-structured population properly? Instead of choosing arbitrary size class boundaries, Easterling, Ellner and Dixon (2000) came up with the idea of using continuous size variables and integrals to define a population model… and that’s how the first Integral Projection Model (‘IPM’ for us friends) came to be.

Naturally, for the development of a new demographic tool to prove useful to the scientific community, it must be flexible enough to be ‘one-size-fits-all’… and the needs of ecologists, evolutionary biologists and conservation biologists – who have to date used extensively size-based matrix models – are rather variable in size, colour and shape. Continue reading

A Model Approach to Weed Management

Post provided by VANESSA ADAMS

Vanessa Adams in the field with gamba grass in the Batchelor region, NT. ©Amy Kimber (NERP Northern Australia Hub)

Vanessa Adams in the field with gamba grass in the Batchelor region, NT.
©Amy Kimber (NERP Northern Australia Hub)

Invasive weeds cause environmental and economic harm around the world. Land managers bear a heavy responsibility for the control of infestations in what is often a time-consuming and costly battle.

Fortunately, an increasing number of research-based solutions are giving land managers an advantage. This includes tools to determine the distribution of weeds and also the development of modelling approaches to predict their spread.

Understanding the current and future distribution of an invasive species allows managers to better direct their limited resources. However, the direct and strategic management of weeds is tricky and that’s why population models (in particular spatial dispersal models that can be applied without much data) are needed to inform and facilitate action on the ground. Continue reading

New Associate Editor: Sarah Goslee

Today, we are pleased to be welcoming a new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Sarah Goslee joins us from the USDA Agricultural Research Service in the USA and you can find out a little more about her below.

Sarah Goslee

“‘Why is this plant growing here?’ Tackling this question has led me through wetlands, forests, deserts and grasslands. I’ve poked at this question from the scale of plant traits all the way up to satellite imagery. I employ tools that include multivariate analysis, community and landscape diversity metrics, simulation modelling, and spatial classification. My current focus is on agricultural decision support tools for pasture and rangeland.”

Sarah will be handling Applications articles for the journal. Applications papers describe new software, equipment or other practical tools, with the intention of promoting and maximising the uptake of these new approaches. All of our published Applications articles are freely available to everyone.
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Issue 7.3

Issue 7.3 is now online!

The March issue of Methods is now online!

This month’s issue contains two Applications articles and two Open Access articles, all of which are freely available.

METAGEAR: A comprehensive, multifunctional toolbox with capabilities aimed to cover much of the research synthesis taxonomy: from applying a systematic review approach to objectively assemble and screen the literature, to extracting data from studies, and to finally summarize and analyse these data with the statistics of meta-analysis.

Universal FQA Calculator: A free, open-source web-based Floristic Quality Assessment (FQA) Calculator. The calculator offers 30 FQA data bases (with more being added regularly) from across the United States and Canada and has been used to calculate thousands of assessments. Its growing repository for site inventory and transect data is accessible via a REST API and represents a valuable resource for data on the occurrence and abundance of plant species. Continue reading

2015 Robert May Prize Winner: Kim Calders

The Robert May Prize is awarded annually for the best paper published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution by an Early Career Researcher. We’re delighted to announce that the 2015 winner is Kim Calders, for his article ‘Nondestructive estimates of above-ground biomass using terrestrial laser scanning.

Kim led the work on this article and had an international team of co-authors. They have developed a way to harness laser technology for use in measurements of vegetation structure of forests. The study is an important development in the monitoring of carbon stocks for worldwide climate policy-making. Continue reading