Ecology branches into the tree of life

An August 2012 supplementary issue of Ecology explores the interface of ecology and phylogenetics. By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Lebensbaum (Tree of Life): Detail from Gustav Klimt’s 1910/11 drawing for the immense dining room frieze at Stoclet Palace, in Brussels. Watercolor and pencil. Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna. NATURALISTS of the late 19th century tended to holistic interpretations of the...

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Hidden Treasures

By Nadine Lymn, ESA director of public affairs Imagine you get up one morning and go outside to fetch your paper.  As you reach to pick it up, a strange spider bites you. Your neighbor is bitten too.  Now you’re both dying because no one can identify these spiders and therefore can’t administer anti-venom that might save you.  This was the dramatic scenario Michael Mares conjured up for the audience during a June 5 congressional...

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Ecological research in images

(Click the below image to view the photo gallery.) This week, the American Museum of Natural History launched the exhibit “Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies” which explores the images produced by scientists while performing research. The images range from bug genitalia to staghorn coral (see video at the end of this post). As quoted in a recent Wired Science article, “‘A lot of people come to the museum...

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Tackling fiction with what he knows best

I was thumbing through my New Yorker magazine when the featured fiction story caught my eye. The accompanying graphic showed several silhouetted ants and the opening line of the story read: “The Trailhead Queen was dead.” I began reading and got pulled into the plight facing the colony, which was profoundly affected by the death of its long-lived queen.

Something about the fiction story was different though. While it kept my attention it also fed me detailed and fascinating facts (e.g. “…..ants are encased in an external skeleton; their soft tissues shrivel into dry threads and lumps, but their exoskeletons remain, a knight’s armor fully intact long after the knight is gone.”) Halfway through reading, it struck me that this was just the sort of story a biologist could write. I flipped back to check who authored the piece and was startled to see that it was a biologist.

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