It is important to keep changes in perspective, this includes the overall influence of and public interest in science. In a session at the National Association of Science Writers’ (NASW) 2010 meeting last weekend, panelists and audience members discussed public interest in science and ways to increase this interest during a time of change.
Tim Birkhead explains what song bird research can contribute to human health, Surprising Science describes the evolution of a feline’s roar (or meow), a Geophysical Research Letters study assesses the world’s dwindling groundwater supply, Nature News interviews Gabriela Chavarria—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s top science adviser—and Chris Palmer’s book reveals faking in nature videos. Here are stories in ecology from the last week in September.
When was the last time you sat down after dinner to watch the local news? How about the last time you forwarded or received a link to a news story? Odds are, with the prevalence of social networking, blogs and email, you probably sent or received news in some form during your lunch break this afternoon. In fact, just by reading this post you are providing evidence that consumers tend to prefer cherry picking news throughout the day, rather than replenishing their news supply all at once.
Western barbastelle bats in Europe learn to use quieter echolocation when hunting moths, ecologists analyze the importance of and methods for communicating science during times of environmental controversy, researchers map the skull of an extinct terror bird, unraveling this prehistoric carnivore’s hunting behaviors and a photographer produces x-ray images of flowers to showcase their inner beauty.
The reasons for sharing research with the media are relatively widely known: If a certain research topic is going to be highlighted as an important issue, then it needs to be shared with the public. And reporters are one of the best ways to give research exposure. The question, then, is what makes research newsworthy?
Even though most of my face was covered by neoprene, acrylic glass and rubber, I could still feel the whiskers of the harbor seal rub against my skin as he repeatedly kissed my face. Believe it or not, the harbor seal wasn’t the only marine organism that was showing me the love during a morning of scientific diving in a marine reserve off the coast of Catalina Island, California.
Science can take a page out of the World Health Organization’s book when it comes to tracking and aiding in global health. Its online database, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), is an early disease detection system developed by Health Canada; it collects data on unusual disease events by monitoring news wires, websites and online newspapers in eight languages. But what can ecologists take away from this?