upwithclimate work discussed on the DailyShow with John Stewart

Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer of the New York Times and author of the book “Field Notes from a Catastrophe”, recently came to my team’s field sites in the Peruvian Andes to do research for her new book “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”.  The book was just published and she is now busy doing publicity tours, including a recent interview on the DailyShow with John Stewart.  She didn’t mention us by name but she did explicitly refer to our team’s work and findings.
You can watch it here:

The segment with Elizabeth Kolbert starts on minute 14 and her mention of our work in the Andes is at around minute 18.

Please note that the that the actual required rate of migration is 30 vertical feet upward per year not per day!

Evil Bovines

You may have noticed a drop in the number of journal article being discussed on this upwithclimate blog.  This is due in part to the fact that we have decided to try and publish our comment on journal articles as official responses.  The first of these responses has just been published – in Science! Since these responses are sometimes overlooked by readers, we are reproducing it here:

Taking a Bite Out of Biodiversity
Brian Machovina and Kenneth J. Feeley


Substituting meat with soy protein could reduce total human biomass appropriation in 2050 by 94% below 2000 baseline levels (5) and greatly reduce other environmental impacts related to use of water, fertilizer, fossil fuel, and biocides. Soy protein production for global livestock markets is the second leading cause of Amazonian deforestation after pasture creation. Eliminating livestock and instead growing crops, including soy protein, only for direct human consumption could negate future agricultural land expansion, while increasing the number of calories available for human consumption by as much as 70% (6)—enough to feed an additional 4 billion people, exceeding the projected global population growth of 2 to 3 billion (6). This savings in land and calories is due to eliminating the loss of ∼90% of the energy available in plants during the conversion to livestock (7). We argue that reducing and maintaining animal products to even 10% of the global human diet would enable the future global population to be fed on just the current area of agricultural lands. Without a global decrease in per capita meat consumption by humans, the loss of natural habitats, large carnivores, and biodiversity is certain to continue.

Variable definitions in community ecology

Community ecology is confusing. This is confounded by the interchangeable use of many terms in the discipline.

A bunch of other graduate students and I discussed this recently at a reading group meeting (read: beer and hot dogs), and we wondered just how variable peoples interpretations of these common terms were.

We have made a short survey (4 questions) asking you to define four common terms: ‘community’, ‘assemblage’, ‘guild’ and ‘ensemble’ – please contribute!

The survey can be found here!

Many thanks!


All About Anoles

The second general meeting of the FIU Ecology club GLADES featured a reptilian guest-the Anole. This week graduate student James Stroud of the Feeley lab was generous enough to host an interactive workshop with GLADES members on anoles. It began with a short presentation on the species found at our university that make up our unique anole community. James explained how to identify these anoles based on their most obvious physical characteristics and on their most common habitat preferences.

GLADES members learning about common South Florida anole species.

GLADES members learning about common South Florida anole species.

After the presentation, the fun began! Our group headed outside armed with lizard “nooses” to look for any anoles around campus. With our newly acquired knowledge of anole ecology and identification we all had a sharp eye ready for any small movement along a tree, post, wall, or on the ground. The day had a slight case of rain, which meant the anoles were hiding from us while we walked around campus getting rained on. As budding ecologists, this didn’t stop us.

On the search for anoles.

On the search for anoles.

With some careful eyes, we spotted one anole in a young slash pine tree in the Nature Preserve and used a lizard noose to catch it. This was a great opportunity for GLADES members to try their hand at lizard catching and identification. Later on in the workshop every member had a chance to catch an anole on their own. Anoles are tough little critters, so they didn’t mind being held in order for members to get a better look at their unique features.

The brown anole (Anolis sagrei).

Anoles really are prevalent here in south Florida. They can be found all over campus, in your backyard, and even in your boots (this happened to me once!) Having grown up in Miami, I recall as a child catching these little lizards left and right and would anger them just enough to get them to bite my fingers (and sometimes my earlobes to wear them as earrings….according to James this seems to be a Miami-only phenomenon).

GLADES members had a unique experience at this workshop, and from it took more nuggets of information which they can utilize to enhance their continuing education in ecology.