[Coral-List] reef resilience, hypothesis testing, and the need to know one's animals
rupert.ormond.mci at gmail.com
Thu May 26 11:14:49 EDT 2016
Mention of the decline in student ID and natural history skills reminds
me of an occasion, quite some years ago, when I draw this issue to the
attention of our Faculty Board.
I complained that half our students could no longer tell ducks from
At this one colleague quipped that...actually...ducks were dinosaurs.
(I should have de-prioritised alliteration?)
At which another explained that given a suitable DNA sample they could
even ID both the species and sub-species!
But as this thread indicates, many younger researchers do have
surprisingly limited knowledge of reef organism natural history...so
thankfully my experience still seems useful!
Corresponding Secretary, ISRS
On 25/05/2016 17:43, Alec Scott wrote:
> Hi all,
> I just wanted to add to this conversation an article about the decline of
> natural history training in ecology that was recently brought to my
> attention by a former professor who studies grassland ecology (just to
> highlight that this is happening across the whole field):
> Scientific American write-up:
> Original article:
> On Mon, May 23, 2016 at 4:28 PM, Douglas Fenner <
> douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Your views on the field biologists and the lab scientists has a
>> parallel in an old article by Chuck Birkeland, which supports what you say.
>> Birkeland, C. 2009. Important roles of natural history in ecology.
>> Galaxea, Journal of Coral Reef Studies 11: 59-66.
>> As Chuck points out, if you don't know the natural history of what the
>> organisms are doing, you can get the interpretation of the fancy technical
>> data wrong.
>> Cheers, Doug
>> On Sun, May 22, 2016 at 3:47 PM, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:
>>> Hi Listers,
>>> A couple of weeks ago, Joe Pawlik drew attention to a new paper of his in
>>> BioScience. I read it, read a little bit further, and was prompted to
>>> some thoughts on my blog, mainly about how we have to know our study
>>> organisms or ecosystems well if we are to be able to generate, and then
>>> test hypotheses about them. I think Pawlik's paper, and the 2012 one by
>>> Roff and Mumby make clear that we still have numerous competing
>>> to account for the failures of reef resilience following disturbances
>>> lead to loss of coral cover, and far more variation from place to place
>>> than would ever be apparent when reading accounts of what I call the
>>> herbivore-mediated hypothesis of coral dominance.
>>> I fear, rightly or wrongly, that our ability to generate and test
>>> hypotheses about coral reefs is getting weaker, at the very time we need
>>> to be getting stronger, because of the general down-grading of field time
>>> in undergraduate and graduate education, plus an appalling erosion of
>>> biological knowledge because that is considered old-fashioned and
>>> unnecessary. (I also admit I learned some new things (for me) about
>>> sponges after reading the Pawlik paper!)
>>> Anyhow, my thoughts are here: http://www.petersalebooks.com/?p=2237
>>> I hope this does not annoy, because I do not want to have to wear a
>>> bullet-proof vest under my aloha shirt in Honolulu next month. I'll be
>>> very interested to talk to people about this topic, and also about your
>>> views on the fate of coral reefs over the next few decades during ICRS.
>>> Note that my blog post includes the statement that it is precisely
>>> coral reef ecology is relatively strong as ecology goes that I feel free
>>> demand it get stronger. As I conclude at the end, careful, detailed
>>> monitoring of the gradual loss of coral cover across the reefs of the
>>> world, without any success in building understanding of why and how,
>>> simply be a time-consuming effort to document the demise of one part of
>>> Earth's biodiversity, a description of a part of the sixth extinction.
>>> of any great value once the extinction is over!
>>> Peter Sale
>>> Distinguished University Professor (Emeritus)
>>> University of Windsor
>>> e-mail: sale at uwindsor.ca<mailto:sale at uwindsor.ca>
>>> web: www.petersalebooks.com<
>>> Twitter: @PeterSale3
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Douglas Fenner
>> Contractor for NOAA NMFS, and consultant
>> "have regulator, will travel"
>> PO Box 7390
>> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
>> phone 1 684 622-7084
>> Join the International Society for Reef Studies. Membership includes a
>> subscription to the journal Coral Reefs, and there are discounts for pdf
>> subscriptions and developing countries. Check it out! www.fit.edu/isrs/
>> "Belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."- Jim Beever.
>> "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."-
>> Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
>> The political hurdles facing a carbon tax- and how to overcome them.
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>> website: http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
>> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
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