Tag Archives: language

Bob O’Hara: The Rise of the Ecological Modeller

Non-scientists still often think of ecologists as field workers in cargo shorts, running around a grassland with a notebook and a tape measure. Whilst I’d be remiss to say this wasn’t a percentage of us, the last two decades has seen the rise of ecological modelling, which has resulted in a new breed of ecologist. One who is capable of working almost exclusively with data, producing species distribution maps and population fluctuation graphs without leaving the office.

At the forefront of this group is Bob O’Hara, who has long claimed he plans to retire the moment he figures out whether he’s a biologist or statistician. Bob currently works at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, spending his time with the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics and the Departments of Mathematical Sciences. I spoke to Bob about the history of ecological modelling, its integration into the wider field, and problems with modern ecological modelling.

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Interdisciplinarity in the Classroom: The Experts in Teamwork Approach

Image Credit: Liliann Eidem, CC BY-SA 2.0

The concept of interdisciplinarity (essentially, scientists from different backgrounds working together to solve scientific questions) has played a major role in the development of ecology, and science in general, in the last few decades. As odd as it sounds, working across disciplines, even those as closely related as population and behavioural ecology, wasn’t a regular occurrence. Papers with one author were fairly commonplace.

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Bill Sutherland: Conservation in a Post-Truth World

Bill Sutherland giving the plenary lecture at INTECOL 2013

Bill Sutherland giving the plenary lecture at INTECOL 2013 (Image Credit: Still from Professor William Sutherland: INTECOL 2013 Plenary Lecture, YouTube, uploaded by British Ecological Society, 28 Oct 2013)

It’s not every day you get to meet someone who has been cited more times than The Origin of Species. But at the 2018 Oikos conference in Trondheim, Norway, Kate Layton-Mattthews and I had the privilege of talking to renowned conservation biologist and author of The Conservation Handbook, Professor William Sutherland.

With Bill giving a keynote speech at the conference about making ecological decisions in a post-truth world, we took the chance to grill him about global conservation progress and science in the world of Trump and Brexit.

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