This blog is now closed

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 | Administrative | 6 Comments

It was fun. Good luck and thank you for all the visits and comments!

Croatian Myrmecological Society

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 | Education, Personalities | 6 Comments

The official pin. The H stands for Croatia, of course.

I just returned from the meeting of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, an every-forth year affair that brings together scientists from around the globe under the common umbrella of social evolution. This year the venue was Copenhagen, Denmark, with over 700 participants.

Among the many colleagues I encounter, I had the pleasure of finally meeting ant ecologist Jelena Bujan, vice president of the Croatian Myrmecological Society (HMD). › Continue reading

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Merriam-Webster on cladistics

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 | Cladistics, Education | 2 Comments

Google indexed this page today from the online version of Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Main Entry: cla·dis·tics
Pronunciation: \kl?-?dis-tiks, kla-\
Function: noun plural but singular in construction
Date: 1965

: a system of biological taxonomy that defines taxa uniquely by shared characteristics not found in ancestral groups and uses inferred evolutionary relationships to arrange taxa in a branching hierarchy such that all members of a given taxon have the same ancestors

cla·dist \?kla-dist, ?kl?-\ noun
cla·dis·tic \kl?-?dis-tik, kla-\ adjective
cla·dis·ti·cal·ly \-ti-k(?-)l?\ adverb

I don’t know when was this entry actually added to the dictionary, but it is nicely defined.

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From the archive

Monday, May 31st, 2010 | Ants, Personalities | 1 Comment

Donat Agosti at the Muséum d'histoire naturelle de la Ville de Genève, Switzerland. 2003

Swiss myrmecologist and pioneer cybertaxonomist, Donat Agosti digitizes a drawer from Auguste Forel ant collection at Geneva.

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A blog on social wasps and life

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 | Education, Metablogging, Personalities, Science | Comments Off

I want to call your attention to a new blog written by Kurt Pickett, a colleague and close friend of mine. Kurt and I meet at the American Museum of Natural History a few years back. He was a postdoc and I a grad student, both working with James M. Carpenter.

The blog, Apoica, is named after the genus of rare nocturnal paper-wasps (Vespidae) he studied during his Ph.D. at Ohio State University. Kurt is currently an assistant professor at the University of Vermont where he continues his research on phylogenetics and the evolution of social behavior in the paper-wasp family. We are actively collaborating on a project involving ants (of course), combining molecular and morphological data for phylogenetic analysis.

In his blog Kurt writes not about his discoveries on wasp behavior, but about another major discovery he came upon by the end of his postdoc years: he has lymphoma. He recently underwent a bone marrow transplant, the ultimate treatment for his kind of cancer. He blogs about the up and downs of his recovery with the eye of the excellent scientist he is. Kurt has a great sense of humor, but don’t expect his posts to be anything but rather dark in tone.

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Ants on Télé-Québec

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 | Ants, Ontogeny, Personalities | 1 Comment

Télé-Québec, Canada, aired on March 23 a small documentary of the ant research done by the laboratory of Ehab Abouheif, from McGill University. Abouheif lab looks at ant evolution from a still unusual developmental perspective.

It is worth watching, even thought I can’t embed it here, so you will have to watch it on their site (together with the advertisements, of course). And, if you don’t speak French, don’t worry, you’re not alone…

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Blogging runs in families

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 | Metablogging | 5 Comments

Families of closely related topics that is. Morgan D. Jackson set out to reconstruct the phylogeny of insect blogs:

You will think that a blog with the name of Archetype would be very close to the root of the tree, if not being the root itself. Oh well, this blog seems to be well nested in a clade “higher up”. But look at the bright side, Archetype’s sister blog is excellent and the one that lead me into blogging in the first place.

From the archive

The gang-of-four ready to take over the ant world. From left: Philip Ward, Seán Brady, Ted Schultz and Brian Fisher at the IUSSI congress in Sapporo, Japan.

It was at the XIV international meeting of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects in 2002 that the “gang of four” decided to join forces to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of ants using molecular data.  Four years later Brady et al. 2006 was published.

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The oldest known [cough... African... cough] ant

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 | Ants, Metablogging, Publishing, Science, Web | 8 Comments

Here’s a perfect example of what I like about blogs becoming an integral communication tool for the scientific community and interested folks alike:

Cretaceous African ant in amber (Courtesy of Vincent Perrichot via http://myrmecos.wordpress.com)

  1. A peer-review paper gets published;
  2. The media gets hold on the story;
  3. The blogs react: scientists and general public fill the comments section (in the genuine tone of the internets);
  4. The authors of the original paper join in the discussion.

Discussion may get heated, comments may get bitter, but the results are always rewarding for all.

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phyloseminar.org – February 24th, 1pm (PST)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 | Cladistics, Education, Science, Theory | Comments Off

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Do not forget to tune in to tomorrow’s phyloseminar where Noah Rosenberg will be speaking about consistency properties of species tree inference algorithms under the multispecies coalescent. February 24th at 1pm PST.

You can watch him live from the comfort of your computer, but you may want to take some minutes before the seminar to set up your computer and microwave some popcorn.

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And as we discussed last semester, the Army Ants will leave nothing but your bones.
- Tom Waits

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