Yearly Archives: 2010

Is the “hopelessly incomplete” fossil record a little better than we give it credit for?

Conventional wisdom has always been that fossils are impressionistic: although they can tell us a lot about the morphology of a great variety of organic structures, it has been assumed that all but the most recent of fossil remains contain … Continue reading

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Saving Puffins, One Clip at a Time

There’s an interesting article in a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “A Path for Puffins“. The article discusses the campaign to help eradicate an invasive plant species from a somewhat-remote Scottish Island that is home to … Continue reading

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Man or astrobiology man?

This month’s Scientific American had two interesting news stories concerning our scientific obsession with space. The first article, entitled “Defying Politics”, discussed the schizophrenic and wavering manner in which the last two presidential administrations have worked to forge our future … Continue reading

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Extensifying Sustainability

The Chronicle of Higher Education featured a provocative article entitled “True Sustainability Means Going Beyond Campus Boundaries” in last week’s issue. Author James Proctor argues that campus sustainability has focused too much on the “act locally” principle, leading to sustainable … Continue reading

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Mirsky on Poop in Space

As an ecologist one of my biggest pet peeves is the way that manned space travel is treated in the mainstream media, both fictional and non-fictional. Without going deeply into the details, suffice it to say that our dependence on … Continue reading

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Using Ecological Footprints to Teach Sustainability

Technically- and traditionally-speaking, an ecology course should not really deal too much with policy. A strict definition of ecology should limit the topic to the study of the interaction between organisms and their environment, and for decades now that has … Continue reading

Posted in Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Ecological Footprinting, Ecology Education, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Ethics, MSCI-270, Ecology, Pollution, Public Policy, Quantitative Analysis, Sustainability, Teaching Tools, Web | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Reclaiming a Rigorous Definition of “Sustainability”

The latest issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment features a great guest editorial by David N. Laband and David B. South entitled “Walking the talk on sustainability”. In this short piece, Laband and South make a point that … Continue reading

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Are Eco-labels an Effective Tool for Conservation?

On of the things that I like about the Ecological Society of America’s “accessible” journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment is that it always contains an eclectic mix of articles. The November 2010 issue contains an article entitled “Strategic … Continue reading

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Official video of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010

One of my current Ecology students brought this video, produced by the United Nations, to my attention today: I think what is most fascinating about this video is the premise upon which it is built. Using the video screen to … Continue reading

Posted in Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Ecology Education, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Extinction, Film & Television, Invasive Species, Pollution, Public Policy, Sustainability, Urban Ecology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Delayed Development and Human Evolution

For hundreds of thousands of years, Homo neanderthalensis was the dominant hominid species of Europe and the Middle East. Then, somewhere in the range of 80,000 to 50,000 years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens) expanded out of Africa and came … Continue reading

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Greg Graffin on The Takeaway

Back in the early 1990’s, I could be found skateboarding around the campus of Pomona College. As I rolled my way from the dining hall to those eight o’clock classes in Chemistry that served to weed out potential Biology majors … Continue reading

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Scientific American “Controlling the Brain with Light”

Neuroscience represents a sort of “last frontier” in biology: despite decades of research into the nervous systems of a diverse set of organisms, scientific understanding of how the web of neurons we call a brain creates complex emergent patterns of … Continue reading

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The Role of Technology in Human Evolution

Today’s version of The Takeaway featured an interesting interview with Kevin Kelly, author of a new book called What Technology Wants. You can listen to the segment here: Although I have not read the book, I am familiar and interested … Continue reading

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National Geographic’s “Science of Dogs”

I have a rather ambitious list of courses that I want to offer in the near future. As I have indicated before, one of the liberating features of my job as a professor at Pratt Institute is that pretty much … Continue reading

Posted in Animal Domestication, Courses, Cultural Evolution, Ethics, Evolution, Film & Television, Human Evolution, Mutualism, Reviews, Teaching | Tagged | Leave a comment

2010 Convention on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services (Sorta)

There was an interesting piece today on Public Radio International‘s The World about the Convention on Biological Diversity (taking place in Japan) called “Environment Biodiversity as natural capital“. Guest Thomas Lovejoy talks about various examples of natural capital, including the … Continue reading

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Robert Trivers and colleagues on Nowak, Tarnita, and Wilson’s “The evolution of eusociality”

One of the most difficult things about being the only full-time biologist on the Pratt Institute campus is that I do not have the opportunity to discuss serious science in my field with colleagues or guest speakers. To help alleviate … Continue reading

Posted in Adaptation, Altruism, Articles, Behavioral Ecology, Cooperation, Data Limitation, Evolution, Game Theory, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Multilevel Selection, Sociology, Superorganisms, Talks & Seminars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Firefighting and the Tragedy of the Commons

A recent incident in Obion County, Tennessee has gotten national media attention from the likes of MSNBC, NPR, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times. A resident of this rural county called 911 when a fire broke out in … Continue reading

Posted in Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Ethics, Evolutionary Psychology, Film & Television, MSCI-463, The Evolution of Cooperation, Multilevel Selection, Public Policy, Punishment, Radio & Podcasts, Web | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Asian Carp on NPR

Today National Public Radio‘s All Things Considered featured a good piece on the Asian Carp problem entitled “White House ‘Asian Carp Czar’ Outlines His Strategy For Eradicating Species“. The story explains how two human actions — the importation of carp … Continue reading

Posted in Coevolution, Freshwater Ecosystems, Invasive Species, Predation, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Urban Ecology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution

I am on the lookout for a new textbook for my non-majors Evolution course, so I was excited to check out Carl Zimmer’s new book “The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution”, published this year by Roberts and Company. For … Continue reading

Posted in Adaptation, Animal Domestication, Books, Coevolution, DNA Barcoding, Evolution, Evolution Education, Evolutionary Modeling, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, MSCI-260, Evolution, Multilevel Selection, Phylogenetics | Leave a comment

National Geographic “Wolf Wars”

In the March 2010 issue of National Geographic there’s an excellent article on the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park entitled “Wolf Wars”. I was excited to discover it because I use the example of how wolves were brought … Continue reading

Posted in Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Conservation Biology, Ecology Education, Grasslands, MSCI-270, Ecology, Reviews, Temperate Forest | Leave a comment