Monday, March 11, 2013

Ecology in everyday life: Monday links

To start, it’s reassuring to know that honeybees like caffeine too. So as you sip your coffee, know that you aren’t the only species who benefits from a little something to start the day.

Citizen science success. iNaturalist.org provides a platform for interested citizens to collect and submit observational data for a huge variety of taxa. This creates an expanding database of species IDs and geographical locations across the US. At present, they have 200,000 observations, which is pretty amazing.

Beautiful wildlife gifs, a reminder that nature is an astonishing place.

Predator/Prey. For some ecologists, work and creative undertakings overlap. So with this in mind, I wanted to point out a band that has taken this marriage of art and ecology to the extreme. Predator/Prey is a Canadian band headed by Dak de Kerhove and Adam Phipps that has released an album built around the concept of species interactions. Dak de Kerkhove is a PhD student studying predator-prey interactions between fish with Peter Abrams and Brian Shuter, so in this case art imitates life.

Most of the songs take inspiration from a combination of emotional subtext and ecological theory. For example, “A Run of Rabbits” focuses on prey dynamics and red queen, with the prey ever running to stay in one place. “Plump of Grouse” is inspired by death and predator prey cycles and written from the perspective of a predator. Because de Kerkhove's work has taken him to the far North, the band can't tour, and instead decided to release a web game that allows you to experience predator-prey interactions from the perspective of a fox. Pretty cool.

**The ecological connections are sometimes subtle, so here is the cheat sheet I was given**
Unkindness of Ravens (INTELLIGENCE / MUTUALISM)
Bed of Mussels (ENDURANCE / PASSIVE FORAGING)
Sounder of Boar (REVENGE / LOSS OF TRAITS UNDER DOMESTICATION)
Knot of Snakes (DESIRE / MATE COMPETITION)
Skulk of Foxes (LOSS / MONOGAMY)
Rout of Wolves (POWER / SOCIAL HIERARCHY)
Priory of Panthers (COOPERATION / GAME THEORY)
Plump of Grouse (DEATH / PREDATOR PREY CYCLES)
Mischief of Mice (OVERWHELMED / COMPETITION)
Shoal of Fish (DEDUCTION / CREPUSCULAR FORAGING)
Run of Rabbits (FEAR / RED QUEEN)
Gang of Elk (ACCEPTANCE / SELFISH HERD)
Piteousness of Doves (LOSS / GAME THEORY) 
                           ****

5 comments:

Jeremy Fox said...

For readers looking for other bands with ecologists, warblefly (named for a parasitic fly) counts ace ecologists Andy Beckerman and Frank van Veen among their members, and Owen Petchey as a former member. They play rowdy Irish music with various other influences.

http://www.warblefly.co.uk/

Caroline Tucker said...

I didn't know that! In terms of other musical ecologists, Dan Simberloff is apparently a top-notch mandolin player.

D.T. de Kerckhove said...

Thanks Caroline for sharing this. Also great to learn about warblefly. Generally readers can also find other academic musicians on cbc's blog post fig: http://music.cbc.ca/#/blogs/2012/5/Infographic-Musicians-with-doctorates

Simon Goring said...

Great band (of course, I've known Dak since high school)! SFU/UBC always had an excellent open stage night once a year when bands made up of Forestry, Biology and Botany grad students would take to the stage. I was lucky enough to be a part of One-Effth Noise (or pink noise), which was Joel Heath's band. Joel, of course, is now not only a Ph.D, but also an award winning filmmaker (http://www.peopleofafeather.com/).

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