Category Archives: Science

IBS 2017: Weak case for experimental macroecology, dynamic macroecology on the rise, and the problem of process vs mechanism

By | January 17, 2017

I’ve returned from IBS meeting in Tucson. Here are my thoughts on experimental and dynamic macroecology, the two big issues discussed this year: Experimental macroecology needs better justification One entire morning was dedicated to experimental macroecology. Presented were results from small-grain manipulative experiments, sometimes replicated over large extents, sometimes not. However, it all felt like a… Read More »

On soil larvae, Beverly Hills, passion, macroecology, and the problem of describing what I do

By | December 3, 2015

I have always found it difficult to explain my profession to people. For my bachelor degree I studied larvae of inconspicuous flies (Insecta: Diptera: Therevidae) in soils of remote forests of central Europe. About five people around the world have ever heard of these flies, but I did not care as I was passionately in… Read More »

2015 Pulitzer prize awarded to book on conservation biogeography: The Sixth Extinction by Elisabeth Kolbert reviewed

By | June 26, 2015

Elisabeth Kolbert: The Sixth Extinction. Published on Feb 2014 by Henry Holt & Co., New York. The 2015 Pulitzer prize in the General Nonfiction category (awarded on May 28) went to Elisabeth Kolbert for her book on science of extinction, which also happens to be an intro to conservation biogeography. The book has a wide… Read More »

The man in the academic arena

By | October 20, 2014

Lately I went through a couple of ordinary academic failures. I had one manuscript rejected in three statistical journals in a row. I had another one rejected in Science, PNAS and PLoS Biology in a prompt sequence. Interestingly, among all of the six submissions only Science actually sent it out for review (and then rejected).… Read More »

Center for Theoretical Study, Prague: more intense than ivy league

By | October 8, 2014

I have recently been lucky to relocate from Yale to Center for Theoretical Study in Prague, Czech Republic. The institute brings together philosophers, mathematicians, physicists, sociologists, economists, biologists and others; it is similar to Santa Fe Institute or Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, and its aim is to stimulate interdisciplinary approaches to science, encouraging new… Read More »

Species Distribution Models on the right track. Finally.

By | September 2, 2014

Species Distribution Models (SDM) a.k.a. Niche Models have always been a busy pile of confusion, ideology and misguided practices, with the real mess being the “presence only” SDMs. Interestingly, when you go to conservation or biogeography symposiums, you can hear the established SDM gurus starting their talks with: “During the last ten years SDMs have… Read More »

Is my brilliant idea any good? I am not sure, so I've pre-printed it on PeerJ

By | July 24, 2014

As a scientist, what should I do when I encounter a seemingly fundamental problem that also seems strangely unfamiliar? Is it unfamiliar because I am up to something really new, or am I re-discovering something that has been around for centuries, and I have just missed it? This is a short story about an exploration… Read More »

The joy and martyrdom of trying to be a Bayesian

By | August 30, 2013

Some of my fellow scientists have it easy. They use predefined methods like linear regression and ANOVA to test simple hypotheses; they live in the innocent world of bivariate plots and lm(). Sometimes they notice that the data have odd histograms and they use glm(). The more educated ones use generalized linear mixed effect models.… Read More »

Is basic science infantile?

By | July 15, 2013

Time has an article on what happens when creative thinkers get the opportunity to set their minds free. The article begins at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and ends up as an essay on the old "rivalry" between basic and applied science. Opinions of two of the Institute's researchers are contrasted. Norwegian mathematician… Read More »

On ensemble forecasting

By | April 27, 2013

Yesterday, professor Ronald Smith gave a talk at Yale about how to predict future climate. One of his central subjects was ensemble forecasting. Here I give it a bit of a dissection. Climatologists and ecologists do "predictive models". Once they have the model, they use it to predict the future, e.g.: How will global temperature… Read More »