Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

There’s Dirt Under Them Thar Sidewalks

Posted 30 Sep 2011 / 0

Sometimes I think that it is all too easy in New York City to forget one’s connection to natural systems: we have seemingly domesticated everything. Sewer systems replace rivers and streams, trees are methodically planted in evenly-spaced holes in the sidewalk, and every other surface is covered in asphalt and concrete. And yet when this Read More

Microbial Ecology, Soil Ecology, Urban Ecology

Costly signalling not so costly in the presence of comrades

Posted 23 Sep 2011 / 0

This month’s issue of PLoS Computational Biology contained an interesting article entitled “Signalling and the Evolution of Cooperative Foraging in Dynamic Environments“. Authored by Colin J. Torney, Andrew Berdahl, Iain D. Couzin (all of Princeton University), the article seeks to understand the ecological conditions under which costly signaling can evolve. Many animals emit signals to Read More

Altruism, Articles, Cooperation, Game Theory, Group Selection, Individual-based Models, Modeling (General), Reciprocity, Spatially Explicit Modeling

HOME, a documentary about the impacted Biosphere

Posted 18 Sep 2011 / 0

I just watched the video Home, a production of Yann Arthus-Bertrand and his Good Planet Foundation. Composed solely of high-quality panoramic images intensified by a soaring new-age soundtrack, the film provides viewers with a fairly comprehensive overview of the earth’s ecosystems and the challenges to the future health of these ecosystems posed by human industry. Read More

Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Biomes, Bogs & Wetlands, Carrying Capacity, Climate Change, Ecology, Ecology Education, Economics, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Ethics, Extinction, Film, Television, & Video, Food, Freshwater Ecosystems, Hunger, Mangrove Forests, Marine Ecosystems, Pollution, Population Pressure, Public Policy, Resource Consumption, Sustainability, System Stability, Taiga (Boreal Forest), Temperate Forest, Terrestrial, Tropical Forest, Tundra, Vegetarianism, Water Supply

Eco-mysticism in the Ecology Classroom, Discontinuity in Evolutionary Theory

Posted 17 Sep 2011 / 0

After many semesters teaching an introductory Ecology course to non-majors, I have gotten a pretty good sense of the misconceptions that they bring to the subject. Most students receive little or no high school education in ecology: the majority of secondary school biology curricula are still predominantly organismal in their approach, with ecology and maybe Read More

Ecology Education, Evolution, MSCI-270, Ecology, System Stability, Teaching

Naturalistic Fallacy: 1, Sam Harris: 0

Posted 15 Sep 2011 / 2

For those who don’t know Sam Harris, he is a rather famous critic of theism who often invokes science and broad rationalism in his arguments for the abandonment of organized religion. Along with Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins he is sometimes known as one of the “four horsemen of the neo-atheiest movement” (Wilson Read More

Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Memetic Fitness, Multilevel Selection, Philosophy, Radio & Podcasts, Religion, Talks & Seminars, Web

Patterns in mussel beds may reflect interaction between individual behavior and emergent environmental patterns

Posted 09 Sep 2011 / 0

Mussel beds off of Polzeath, United Kingdom (photo by Andy F) Natural selection is often oversimplified as the effect of the outside environment on the survival and reproduction probability of individual organisms. In the end this perspective has some value: individual organisms either survive and reproduce or they do not. But along the way, an Read More

Behavioral Ecology, Competition, Cooperation, Emergence, Individual-based Models, Intertidal Zones, Population Growth, Spatially Explicit Modeling

Online tools for teaching the basics of population growth

Posted 08 Sep 2011 / 5

WARNING: Unfortunately, the applets that I discuss below (“Otherwise”) no longer meet Java security specifications. As a result, they won’t work on computers with the most updated version of Java. Please see the other tools listed in the Comments section below as alternatives. I am still searching for the perfect user-friendly package to teach about Read More

Carrying Capacity, Ecological Modeling, Educational Software and Apps, Lesson Ideas, MSCI-270, Ecology, Population Growth, Teaching Tools