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.
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.
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.
NewScientist posted photographs from the competition held by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to showcase images of their latest research. In a single iconic image, the first one shows the weight that an ant is capable of carrying and how strong the suction devices in her feet are.
I have blogged about these adhesive devices in the ant’s feets before (called arolia in leet speak, singular arolium), and the very first image I used back then happens to be from the same ant species in the image above.
(h/t to P. Beldade)
Weirdbuglady stuffs a real animal for a change, and shows us the whole process with detail pictures.
I agree with her, preparing animals that have the skeleton on the outside is way easier and much more cleaner.
Last night I attended a talk in Lisbon given by Ward Wheeler at the AMNH in New York City and moderated by Frederick Matsen from his home institution in Berkeley, California. The talk was the second on a series of talks in phylogenetics held via videoconferencing.
The idea behind phyloseminar.org is to hold regular live online seminars in phylogenetic methodology open to anyone around the globe. This is a challenge given the time zone differences of the possible participants, but it does makes the whole event fun: I watched it after dinner at 9:00pm; the presenter gave it at his 4:00pm; while the moderator was there after lunch at his 1:00pm. I saw at least one person among the audience that watched it from the future after breakfast in New Zealand the next day at 10:00am. › Continue reading
Here is a hidden treasure in the web.
Robert E. Snodgrass was an American entomologist who published extensively on arthropod anatomy and evolution during the first half of the twentieth century. He was as knowledgeable about arthropod morphology as he was a superb artist– you can see some of his illustrations decorating the banner of this blog. His name is synonymous with insect morphology: his 1935 textbook on the subject (reedited by Cornell University Press in 1993) is still the main reference for any modern course in entomology.
Snodgrass was a lecturer in the University of Maryland for most of his academic life. In 1960, two years before his death, he gave a series of three lectures that were recorded in audio tape. Fortunately for us Jeffrey W. Shultz, professor of entomology at Maryland, has digitized and made these lectures available through a nicely designed page called The Snodgrass Tapes. › Continue reading
Since I am in the neighborhood:
We are please to announce that the 5th Portuguese Evolutionary Biology Meeting will take place at Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA) in Lisbon on December 21st 2009. It is being organized by Unidade de Investigação em Eco-etologia and Centro de Biociências do ISPA (Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 34, Lisbon).
The Portuguese Evolutionary Biology Meetings aim to bring together Portuguese researchers and to promote Evolutionary Biology in Portugal. They are held in late December to allow researchers in foreign institutions to attend, given that many spend their Winter break in Portugal.
I’m reposting this job announcement here:
The International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE), Arizona State University (ASU), invites applications and nominations for a postdoc available January 1, 2010. Duties include dissections, descriptions, and digital illustrations of beetles for print and Web publications, participating in the Institute team working on various cybertaxonomy initiatives, and supporting the research of the director, currently including taxonomic studies of Eleodes (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae).
ASU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Submit statement of interest, CV, and names/email addresses of three references to: Quentin Wheeler, Vice President and Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University. Please submit electronically to email@example.com with subject line Morphology Postdoc. Review of candidates will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.
- Tom Waits