It was fun. Good luck and thank you for all the visits and comments!
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.
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
: 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.
Swiss myrmecologist and pioneer cybertaxonomist, Donat Agosti digitizes a drawer from Auguste Forel ant collection at Geneva.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Here’s a perfect example of what I like about blogs becoming an integral communication tool for the scientific community and interested folks alike:
- A peer-review paper gets published;
- The media gets hold on the story;
- The blogs react: scientists and general public fill the comments section (in the genuine tone of the internets);
- 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.
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.
- Tom Waits