keep up with the literature…


I just find a 2009 paper I missed. How many of those will be out there? I did a commentary (Bartomeus & Winfree 2011) last year on how to track bee movements along different habitats. I did a quite intense literature research and I still missed this very relevant paper (Brosi et al 2009). Sorry, I have no excuses for not citing the paper on the commentary, and despite is true that I don’t usually read that Journal, I like a lot the first author work, so here my little amend:

I would like to have highlighted the paper in my commentary because despite the promising ideas it contains, no advance has been made in this direction in the subsequent years. Maybe other researchers missed that paper too? The paper propose using stable isotopes to track habitat use by pollinators. Despite the known correlation between habitat structure and pollinator diversity and abundance, little is known on which habitats use different pollinator species and specially in which proportions. This knowledge is important to understand the effect of land use change on pollinator persistence, but can be used for answering multiple questions ranging from ecosystem services to pollinator population dynamics. The main limitation faced by researchers so far is the inherent difficulty to track individual specimens movements.

The goal of the paper is to utilize the naturally occurring differences in isotopic composition among habitats to characterize habitat-based bee foraging changes within a landscape context. In this case they characterize the use of agricultural or forested areas. The researchers found a significant relationships between the carbon and nitrogen isotope signals on bees depending on the season, the landscape context and the local biotic context. Though they could not estimate proportions of different habitat uses due to high variances in the stable isotopes signal, they claim that this important step can be achieved in other systems. If so, the ability to calculate isotope mixing models (which estimate the proportion of different habitats use) would be useful for most investigations of pollinator foraging in the context of ecosystem services.


Bartomeus I., Winfree, R. (2011) The Circe Principle: Are Pollinators Waylaid by Attractive Habitats? Current Biology 21(17): 653-655

Brosi, B.J., Daily, G.C., Chamberlain, C.P. & Mills, M. (2009). Detecting changes in habitat-scale bee foraging in a tropical fragmented landscape using stable isotopes, Forest Ecology and Management, 258 (9) 1855. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.02.027

Why Postdocs are the teenagers of academia.

I’m starting my third postdoc. After two postdocs, I thought it would be nice to have my own lab, but given the situation in my home country, doing another postdoc is more appealing, specially in a good lab and with a flexible project. Then, I realised I should stop thinking about the future and enjoy up to the last second of my postdoctoral stage. What’s the hurry? We, Postdocs are the teenagers of Academia. We are not leaving with our parents anymore, but we still don’t have family responsibilities. And just to be clear, by parents I mean PhD advisors, and by family your own grad students. All teenagers want to grow fast, but hey, once you’ve grown you miss your teenage instability, experimenting with new things, the lack of long term responsibilities, the hormonal up-and-downs with high days just after submitting a ms to Science and the down days where you get rejected and nothing makes sense. I don’t want to be a teenager forever, but while I am here, I will use my time to hangout with other teenagers, keep trying new risky things and enjoy this period I know someday i will miss.

Something to say

I enjoy reading scientists blogs. They made me think, they amused me and sometimes they make me feel understood. Most importantly, they help me see that ecology is dynamic and at least some ecologists are thinking out of the box about how to do and discuss science. I was also taking notes and ideas to myself in a variety of physical supports, including napkins that unfortunately I will never find again. I think it’s time I open my ideas and participate in this growing community of ecologists at once. Open ideas, open science and a feeling I have something to say. As scientists we have good formal ways to communicate our final, carefully thought and highly curated outputs, but science also needs a more informal and less serious fast forum. This will be a place to keep an informal open notebook for me. I hope you find something useful too.

Why marginally significant? ok, I know that there is not such a thing as a marginally significant result in statistics. If your p is 0.06, that’s ok, don’t complain, look at your effect sizes, see the power of your analysis, discuss it. Hey, but If your p is 0.04 you should do the same, so it’s not that important. I am not sure if my posts will be always significant for you (and I am not going to test that!), but I want to report them anyway, and I hope discussing them will increase the power of the ideas…