Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Humans arrive, other mammals shrink

Posted 27 Sep 2018 / 0

Scientific American “Mammals Shrink When Humans Migrate In” Another really cool infographic from Scientific American. What I really find interesting here is the difference between the recent arrival of humans (Australia, the Americas) and places where humans just innovated culturally (Africa, Eurasia). Those large mammals species that coevolved with our emergence as a highly-cultural species seem Read More

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Conservation Biology, Evolution, Extinction, Human Evolution, Mammals, Natural Selection

What might we discover in the ocean twilight zone?

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Science “What lives in the ocean’s twilight zone? New technologies might finally tell us” We tend to think that there’s nothing unexplored on the earth, that we know what kinds of organisms inhabit different ecosystems. So it’s pretty striking that there’s a whole area of the ocean that we know so little about. The scientific challenges Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Fluidity of Knowledge, Marine Ecosystems, Sustainability

Can a realistically-parameterized model tell us why our brains are so big?

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Nature “Sizing up human brain evolution” Nature “Inference of ecological and social drivers of human brain-size evolution” This is an interesting study that I simultaneously think is really cool and has some major flaws. What’s cool about this study is that it trys to get at this question with a model that’s (reasonably) constrained by observed parameter Read More

A Minor Post, Allometries, Articles, Brain size, Cognitive Ability, Evolution, Human Evolution, Individual-based Models, Modeling (General), Neuroscience, Uncategorized

Fantastic piece on nature/nurture by Patrick F. Clarkin in TVOL

Posted 23 Sep 2017 / 0

There’s a lot that has been written about the nature/nurture dilemma, perhaps because misconceptions about the role that genes and environment play in biological development are so persistent. Patrick F. Clarkin recently published a couple of wonderful short essays on the topic: This View of Life “We Are Not Hard-Wired“ This View of Life “Evolution Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cultural Evolution, Development, Epigenetics, EvoDevo, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Human Evolution, Language Evolution, Phenotypic Plasticity, Psychological Adaptation

What “rolling coal” has to say about the cultural state of sustainability efforts

Posted 05 Dec 2016 / 0

Image of a Ford F-150 “rolling coal” courtesy of Salvatore Arnone via Wikimedia Commons. In a recent meeting of my Ecology course dedicated to sustainable policies, we were discussing why people don’t choose to adopt sustainable technologies. I think that the question was asked under the assumption that people want to be more sustainable, but face financial Read More

A Minor Post, Activism, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Behavior, Belief, Climate Change, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Economic sustainability, Economics, Environmental Justice, Memetic Fitness, Pollution, Public Policy, Punishment, Social Dilemmas, Social Diversity, Social Norms, Sustainability, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Transportation, System Stability

Wars on climate change versus revolutions to address climate change

Posted 31 Oct 2016 / 0

The New York Times “We Don’t Need a ‘War’ on Climate Change, We Need a Revolution” I am excited about this opinion piece by my friend and colleague Eric S. Godoy. He and his co-author Aaron Jaffe are absolutely right: as much as we might “fight” to “capture” the right metaphor for the “battle” against climate Read More

A Major Post, Activism, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Climate Change, Cooperation, Environmental Justice, Ethics, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Mismatch theory, Philosophy, Public Outreach, Public Policy, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Social Dilemmas

An eye is not an eye is not an eye

Posted 16 Jan 2016 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons National Geographic “Inside the Eye: Nature’s Most Exquisite Creation” This is another fantastic article by Ed Yong that very nicely captures the relativistic nature of the evolutionary process. We basically call any light-sensing organ an “eye”, but animals have eyes that perform radically different functions. How eyes work is a function Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Convergence, Divergence, Fossil Data, Interactions, Photography, Uncategorized

Food is personal, sometimes ethical, but rarely political

Posted 15 Jan 2016 / 0

Image courtesy of Nick Gray via Wikimedia Commons The Chronicle of Higher Education “The Vegetarian Lesson” This article by Chad Lavin neatly distills ideas and issues that I have been grappling with for more than half my life. As a current-day ecologist who was a vegetarian more than a decade before I took my first ecology course, Read More

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Behavior, Belief, Cooperation, Food, Parasitism, Political Science, Predation, Public Policy, Resource Consumption, Uncategorized

How do we know when people are actually happy?

Posted 15 Jan 2016 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Science “Conservatives report, but liberals display, greater happiness” This paper was published back in March, but I just discovered it. I am somewhat fascinated by psychological studies of happiness, because happiness is so hard to pin down. What is happiness, and can we rely on people to accurately report how Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Belief, Data Limitation, Emotion, Happiness, Psychology, Uncategorized

Is New York City a “sustainable” metropolis?

Posted 14 Jan 2016 / 0

Brooklyn garbage bag photo courtesy of Tom W. Sulcer via Wikimedia Commons New York City has endured a pretty bad environmental reputation for decades. If you find yourself on a Manhattan street on the right warm summer night, it is hard not to feel that the place is an environmental nightmare. Those piles of garbage Read More

A Major Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Climate Change, MSCI-271, Ecology for Architects, Pollution, Quantitative Analysis, Resource Consumption, Sustainability, Sustainable Transportation, Sustainable Urban Design, Web