Lab News and Notes
• The lab spent a busy summer doing research and presenting at a number of meetings including the Evolution meeting, Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease (EEID) meeting, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) meeting.
• Ben moved from LSU to start a new position at the University of California, San Diego working with Ryan Hechinger and Johnathan Shurin. He traded the sun of Baton Rouge for more sun and, more importantly, for surf.
• Interested in combining ideas at the interface of human and ecological systems. The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) may be what you are looking for. They have interesting courses and opportunities for graduate student on up.
• Have the need to combine Bayes and Integral Projection Models? See Elderd and Miller, which was just published in Ecologial Monographs.
• Andrew Flick and others published a meta-analysis on the effects of pathogen-infected prey (i.e., poor quality prey) on predators in Oikos (Editor's Choice). Andrew proved that mom was right and you shouldn't just eat junk food.
• Spent a week at the University of Puerto Rico as an instructor in their Topicos in Biologia course. On top of that, I got to spend some time with Miquel Acevedo and David Clark catching lizards in El Yunque National Forest and playing in a bioluminescenct bay.
• Interesting editorial/blog post on science funding in Robert Krulwich's National Geographic blog.
• Maybe eating a sick relative isn't so bad after all. Ben Van Allen along with folks from the Elderd lab and Volker Rudolf at Rice University just published a paper in The American Naturalist looking at how cannibalism can limit the spread of a disease in a population. Cannibalism may even be more effective than selective culling.
• Population cycles are ubiquitous in nature and are of considerable interest to ecologists. A group of ecologists and mathematicians got together at the Banff International Research Stations (BIRS) to discuss the latest research on population cycles. The discussions arising from that symposium/workship have been recently published in Ecology Letters.
• Interesting podcast from NPR's Planet Money on scientific research included in congressional wastebooks. Have a listen to "Shrimp Fight Club".
Fall 2017/Winter 2018
• Ecological Traps: Matt Faldyn has been looking into how climate change will affect monarch butterflies by changing the quality of their food resources, milkweeds. He found that an invasive milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), which is commonly sold at gardening stores, represents a potential ecological trap. That is, under current temperatures, monarchs fair much better on the invasive plant compared to a native species (A. incarnata) but under forecasted warmer temperatures monarch larvae fair poorly. Thus, to quote Admiral Ackbar -- "It's a trap" if the monarchs use past environmental cues to infer future success. Read about it in Ecology.
Also have a listen to Matt's interview on Scientific American's 60-second science podcast.
• Gut alternative stable states (G.A.S.S.) and the appendix: A lot of work is being done on the microbiome. One such problem occurs within the gut of human beings when a particular nasty set of bacteria take over - Clostridium difficile. It has been hypothesized that the appendix may be a refuge for our good gut bacteria and thus may help shift the gut from an alternative stable state of bad bacteria dominance to a state where healthy bacteria dominate. Colleagues at Case Western (Karen Abbott and Tad Joshi) and the Elderd lab laid that to rest and showed that no appendix is necessary in the Journal of Theortical Biology.
• Matt Garvey joined the lab. Fresh from finishing his Ph.D. at Purdue. We will try and indoctrinate him into the ways of crawfish boils and baculoviruses.