Category Archives: Ecology

Our Biomass Crisis: The Avian Edition

Long before the Cool Kidz were saying it, I’ve been warning that we have a biomass crisis: When is the last time, in those habitats, you have seen enough fish (and minnow-sized fish don’t count) to justify this strategy? What … Continue reading

Posted in Aves, Ecology, Environment | 2 Comments

Biodiversity, Biomass, And Defaunation

Oh shit. For years, I’ve been trying to hammer the point that we have depopulated our oceans: When is the last time, in those habitats, you have seen enough fish (and minnow-sized fish don’t count) to justify this strategy? What … Continue reading

Posted in Ecology, Environment

The Oceans Might Not Be Suffering A Mass Extinction But The Carnage Is Awful

Before I get to the oceans, I’ll describe something that Boston builds every year on the Boston Common: a fishweir. A fishweir is a fence used to catch fish. Believe it or not, it used to work: During the excavation … Continue reading

Posted in Ecology, Environment, Fish, Food

Clear-Cut Fishing

A few years ago, in a post about a reconstructed fish weir–a fence used to trap fish–I noted that, historically, this was a good strategy: Every year, a fishweir is reconstructed on the Boston Common (more information is available here). … Continue reading

Posted in Ecology, Fish, Food | 1 Comment

The Need to Characterize ‘Near’ Missing Diversity: A Comment on the Subway Microbiome Paper

I’m a few weeks late to the subway microbiome paper which, in internet time is decades, but I’ve noticed two things are missing in the commentary. Before I get to those issues, one of the advantages of being behind the … Continue reading

Posted in E. coli, Ecology, Microbiome | 3 Comments

Passenger Pigeons: Speculation on Humans and Ecological Release

There’s a review of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction that’s worth reading. I’ll probably end up getting a copy of the book at some point, but, according to the review, the book doesn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Aves, Ecology | 4 Comments

Reconsidering the Easter Island Collapse (and the Irony of Jared Diamond’s Interpretation of It)

Barbara King recently asked “Why Does Jared Diamond Make Anthropologists So Mad?” It’s not my place to speak for anthropologists (I’m not Mike the Mad Anthropologist), but I do know what has made me very skeptical of Diamond’s claims: his … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Easter Island, Ecology, Environment | 3 Comments

I Know Beavers Are Important Ecosystem Engineers…

…but, based on the below specimen, I’m having a hard time believing it. You see, beavers can have massive effects on ecosystems: Beavers are famously busy, and they turn their talents to reengineering the landscape as few other animals can. … Continue reading

Posted in Ecology, Rodents

On Boston’s Fishweirs and the Demise of Coral Reefs

Andrew Revkin, in response to a NY Times op-ed claiming that the coral reefs are doomed, finds some other marine ecologists who disagree. Frank Bruno states: It is scary, but is it true? I don’t think so. I have been … Continue reading

Posted in Boston, Ecology, Environment, Fish, Food, Lobstah! | 2 Comments

Heuristics Are Not a Cognitive Flaw, But a Necessity in an Uncertain World

So says economist Gerd Gigerenzer. As far as I’m concerned, this video is essential viewing for not only economists, but also biologists, especially those interested in behavior. As one behavioral ecologist I know once quipped, “I don’t believe in optimal … Continue reading

Posted in Ecology, Economics, Evolution | 3 Comments