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You don’t/can’t pay all undergrads in your lab – are you evil?

You don't/can't pay all undergrads in your lab - are you evil?

  This issue comes up a lot in the academic twitter-verse. Usually in the context of internships at conservation NGOs (at least in my world). I generally agree, people should be paid for such internships. They are usually true work or something close to work, even though students gain valuable experience. The issue also gets […]


Ocean warming caused most Caribbean coral loss: a review of the evidence

Ocean warming caused most Caribbean coral loss: a review of the evidence

  Coral cover on Caribbean reefs has declined precipitously over the last few decades, e.g.; Gardner et al. 2003 (Science PDF here): and Schutte et al. 2010 (MEPS PDF here): Also see Hughes 1994, Cote et al. 2005, and Jackson et al 2014. There is substantial evidence that human-caused ocean warming is the primary cause of this loss of reef-building […]


In support of the Biscayne Bay marine reserve

In support of the Biscayne Bay marine reserve

The ongoing battle over the planned marine reserve in Biscayne Bay has scientists and citizens scratching our heads. The impassioned opposition to the proposed protection of a tiny sliver of our shared resource is stunningly out of proportion to what the National Park Service (NPS) has proposed. Moreover, the arguments made by opponents have not […]


Response to Avigdor Abelson

Response to Avigdor Abelson

The graphics below are to supplement our response to the criticisms of Avigdor Abelson about our recent paper in Scientific Reports.


Back to Belize

Back to Belize

I arrived in Belize yesterday with three former lab members (Abel Valdivia from CBD, Courtney Cox from the Smithsonian, and Jenny Hughes, a recent graduate from UNC). Although field ecology is really fun (if pretty challenging) we are actually here to work. In 2008 my lab took over a reef monitoring program Melanie McField set up in the […]


Are isolated central Pacific reefs really “healthier”?

Are isolated central Pacific reefs really "healthier"?

In a new paper – that got a lot of media coverage – Smith et al 2016 quantified benthic reef composition “across 56 islands spanning five archipelagos in the central Pacific”. I think it’s an admirable project and an interesting data set, and there is a lot to like about the paper. However, some of […]


Top 10 take-home lessons from Dayton 1971

Top 10 take-home lessons from Dayton 1971

  10) Natural communities are enormously complex, often governed by networks of positive and negative indirect interactions. (complexity, indirect effects) 9) Multiple factors and processes interact to influence community assembly, including competition, predation, facilitation, recruitment, disturbance, physiological stress, patch dynamics, and succession. (multifactoralism) 8) The relative importance of various factors is highly context dependent. (AKA […]


That wild caught shrimp you just ate? It might be from a skanky, destructive farm

That wild caught shrimp you just ate? It might be from a skanky, destructive farm

Like lots of people, you probably love shrimp. Love to eat them that is. And hopefully you know, shrimp farming is highly destructive. To make a shrimp farm, you first clear out all the mangroves, destroying a critical coastal ecosystem.  Mangrove loss results in greater storm and tsunami impacts, greatly reduced fisheries production (mangrove roots, […]


Steller’s sea cow – candidate for de-extinction?

Today in Evolunch, we discussed de-extinction.  One species we evaluated for post-extinction-reintroduction via the magic of genetics is the Steller’s sea cow, extinct in the wild since 1768 (less than 30 years after it was “discovered”) . Below is an excerpt from The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts that describes the discovery and subsequent […]


Academic-NGO partnerships to optimize and utilize conservation science

Academic-NGO partnerships to optimize and utilize conservation science

Problems: (1) Many academic scientists in conservation biology are isolated from end-users of their work, including policy makers, stakeholders, and conservation NGOs (CNGOs). (2) CNGOs rely on science and scientists, however, a science staff is very expensive to maintain. Assumptions: (1) Science is valuable and useful to CNGOs. (2) Some academic scientists want to produce […]


New tools for science collaboration

New tools for science collaboration

The problem with science is email. You all know what I mean. Nearly everything we do is done via email. On the one hand, email is faster than snail mail and enables me to effortlessly share large amounts of information via attachments, links, etc.  Email – even more than Word, r, and Excel – is the nexus […]


Living Shorelines

Living Shorelines

Jared Brumbaugh of the eastern NC NPR affiliate did a great piece and interview with Rachel Gittman (a 5th year PhD student in my lab) about her work on salt marsh conservation and living shorelines. Protecting shorelines with natural, vegetative barriers is not only better for the ecosystem, it’s a more effective means of slowing shoreline […]


Threatened staghorn coral invades Fort Lauderdale!

Threatened staghorn coral invades Fort Lauderdale!

Last week I was visiting FIU and talking with Lionfish guru Zack Judd when the topic of the Acropora range shift came up.  He and Laura Bhatti wanted to take me to do something fun on my last day in Miami.  So we decided on snorkeling off the beach on the world famous Fort Lauderdale strip […]


When sponges take over

Below is a guest post by UNC student Kati Moore: Overfishing, pollution, and most of all, climate change, are destroying corals, causing the collapse of ecosystems and fishing industries around the world. “Corals are the backbone of the entire ecosystem,” said Emily Darling, a marine and climate change researcher at the University of North Carolina […]


Interview with Abel Valdivia about lionfish and biotic resistance

Interview with Abel Valdivia about lionfish and biotic resistance

I LOVE this interview PeerJ just posted (and excerpted below) with Bruno lab PhD student Abel Valdivia about our new paper on lionfish and biotic resistance.   PJ: What were your motivations for undertaking this research? AV: The invasion of lionfish into the Caribbean basin over the past ten years provides a unique possibility to study marine […]


Coral reef resilience: a biogeographic perspective

Coral reef resilience: a biogeographic perspective

Coral reefs are affected by a large range of disturbances including disease, bleaching, storms, and Acanthaster planci, also known as crown of thorn starfish (COTS) outbreaks.  There appears to be a lot of variation of how much coral cover is affected by physical and biological disturbances and in how quickly coral communities recover from it.  Those two […]


Recent and future impacts of ocean warming on marine biodiversity

Recent and future impacts of ocean warming on marine biodiversity

I am a (relatively junior) member of an NCEAS/NSF funded international working group that is assessing how climate change is affecting ocean ecosystems.  Today, we published our third major paper (in Nature; Burrows et al. 2014), that predicts how ocean warming will affect global patterns of Biodiversity. Read a nice non-technical summary here and a nice summary […]


Top 5 Things I Learned at The Benthic Ecology Meeting 2014

Justin Baumann has a very nice piece on his first experience at the Benthic Ecology Meeting here. I was really impressed by his insight and the general maturity of his post. I am on Justin’s committee but I haven’t interacted with him enough to get this clear a sense of what he is doing and thinking. […]


NOAA to close key fisheries lab in Beaufort, NC

The excellent Fisheries Blog has a great piece on the proposed closing of the facility on Pivers Island.  I was shocked when I first heard this news.  Duke/UNC organized a congressional visit to the facility that could change minds. Despite the incredible work done by the approximately 100 NOAA Beaufort Laboratory employees (see page 8), […]


Graph of the day: projected coral bleaching under different RCPs

Graph of the day: projected coral bleaching under different RCPs

From van Hooidonk et al. 2013 PDF. Learn about RCPs here.


Really Dumb Idea #247: Training sharks to eat dead lionfish

Below is a repost from the graduate student-written Under The C blog by Serena Hackerott.  Since the lionfish invasion hit the news, people have suggested that native predators will eat and control invasive lionfish. For more information check out our previous posts The Great Debate: Predators vs Lionfish and Who’s “Lyin’” about Lionfish?. But with current evidence suggesting […]


New report: what we know about climate change

Below is a guest post by Dana Haine, a K-12 Science Education Manager at the Environmental Resource Program (ERP) here at UNC. A new report on climate change was released by AAAS yesterday.  According to the New York Times, “the language in the 18-page report, called “What We Know,” is sharper, clearer and more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community […]


Congress considers Magnuson-Stevens

Congress considers Magnuson-Stevens

Note, below are materials for a guest lecture I am giving tomorrow in Dr. Elizabeth Havice‘s Geography 435: Environmental Politics class (at UNC).   Congress is currently considering reauthorizing (and tweaking) the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  A National Academy of Science report found that the law has worked relatively well (e.g., in reducing the number of […]


How can we represent complex results in transition journals?

Below is a cool piece, reposted from the Wares Lab.  I run into this issue too and I think the answer is modern journals like PeerJ that allow movies plugged right into the paper.    When I first started doing science, visualization of our data and results was a bit easier. Sequence a gene from […]