Eco-Evo Blog Returns from Summer Break

As it’s really starting to feel like Fall in LA this week (don’t worry, it’ll be hot again next week), Eco-Evo Lab is returning from our summer “vacation”. Unfortunately, most academics don’t live the lives that most people think we do. While we get a break from teaching in the summer, that’s when research kicks into high gear. We’ve all been busy over the summer, but classes have started up again, and we’re about to get back into the mode of writing blog posts again. So stay tuned for those soon. Meanwhile, here’s a brief update on what’s been going in the lab this summer:

Conferences: Various members of the lab have been traveling to conferences to present our research. We spent time at the Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu, HI (really one of the best organized meetings I’ve ever attended…their conference app was really impressive…I’m looking at you, ESA!). A few of us attended the Ecological Society of America meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Attendance was pretty low at the meeting, and it was HOT!, but we still had a great time catching up on what’s new in the field and getting reacquainted with old friends.

Research Trips: Melissa and Zoë spent a couple of weeks in Moorea, French Polynesia collecting microbial samples from different types of coral colonies. We’re now trying to get these samples analyzed in the lab, with the help of a colleague (Dr. Gilberto Flores) here at CSUN. Jamie spent most of his summer either traveling up and down the west coast of the US and in Japan collecting crab samples. He’s now looking at variation in claw color across sites and hoping to use genetic markers to look for signs of population structure.

Research at Home: Nickie wrapped up her second big plant experiment here in the greenhouse at CSUN, looking at genetic variation in an invasive plant species. She is now starting to analyze that data that will wrap up her dissertation. Zoë finished a summer-long research experiment on the effects of invasive species in fouling communities and is nearly finished with her year-round sampling of recruitment in these communities.

Frustration at Home: In an example of why science can sometimes be very frustrating, Melissa spent much of the summer anxiously awaiting the arrival of a piece of equipment from Denmark that is crucial for starting her experiment. Word on the street is that it may finally arrive next week, which is good, because she might explode if she has to wait any longer to get started. Nevertheless, Melissa’s taken advantage of the time to do a lot of research on potential molecular techniques that she’ll be able to use to look for signs of adaptation to heat stress in giant kelp along our coast.

Theoretical Ecology Has no Season: Peter has been working on a mathematical model in the lab, which is about to turn out two different publications. The good thing about modeling is that you can do it any time. The bad thing is that the work never seems to be done. There’s always some new aspect of the model to explore and it’s tough to know when to say enough is enough.

So, we’ve been busy. Look for more blog posts in the near future with tales of our adventures, thoughts on scientific topics, highlights of research we find interesting, or just rants about things we find frustrating. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook (@evolutionaryecology) or Twitter (@EcoEvoLab) for more updates on things we find interesting.

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