‘Round and about

I’m going to move towards greater emphasis on ecology discussions, where some thoughtful people have some very interesting and well considered things to say online, in rather stark contrast to the acrimony, bias and flat-out confusion that dominates much of the online climate/paleoclimate “discussions”. Here are a few for starters.

Steve Walker notes in his real nice piece on what science is that he’s actually just trying to figure things out instead of win any arguments. Radical. He links to a piece that argues that an underlying sense of honesty is what really matters (and not just in science), rather than purely technical criteria like Popper’s “falsification” ideas.

Brian McGill talks about different types of Bayesianism and isn’t overly impressed by those who self-identify as practicing Bayesians as if that alone means something important.

Jeremy Fox asks if we should try to reproduce others’ findings. I say yes, for sure. Those who’ve followed the online dendroclimatology “discussions” know all about this one.

Lastly, here’s a practical method for navigating academic politics that you can give a try. Wear a helmet just in case.

11 thoughts on “‘Round and about

  1. Looking forward to reading more of your ecology posts. I’m a paleobotany buff, which is (sometimes unfortunately) inextricably linked to paleoclimate. I don’t blame you for stepping back from climate, especially after the maddening recent thread at RC. My only guess with Martin Vermeer’s oddball comments is that he read your first and last posts on age bias and wants you to believe he read the whole series. And when you pointed out that he was off topic, he dug his heels in! Then to top it off, Gavin points ot a graph showing a correlation between MXD and ring width, implying that that somehow refutes your argument. Gah!

    • I haven’t even looked at RC since my last comments a couple of days ago–lots going on–looks like I’ll have to. The really critical issue there (among many such) is the deletion of my response to Martin Vermeer. That’s really serious.

      Update: Deletion of my response to him appears to have now happened a second time, on a separate comment. And your comment there was restored from the trash folder, along with another one.

    • Jim, I have to say that the way your colleagues are treating you is shameful. I don’t understand why these discussions can’t be in the open… This was my comment at RC to Martin:

      Martin Vermeer says:
      25 Jun 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Jim, sure, we can try… drop me an email.

      sue says:
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      25 Jun 2013 at 8:15 PM

      Martin, why not discuss with Jim in the open?

  2. First a “breaking news” topic. The recent late June rainstorm in northern California was a very rare event, perhaps a first-in-memory for many folks (Cliff Mass describes the rarity in a recent post on his blog). Meanwhile, ecologists have noted that Quercus douglasii has failed to sustainably regenerate throughout its range for decades. My boots-on-the-ground experience is that there have been plenty of seedlings but no saplings. Q. douglasii is an extremely long-lived species. Putting it all together, I hypothesize that the species requires rare early summer rains to survive the first dry season. I predict a huge recruitment spike compared to the 30-year mean in Q. douglasii to this unusual rain event.

    • Good observations Matt. Maybe we now need a greater dose of late spring/early summer precip to counter the ferocious competitive effects of the the non-native annual grasses? Maybe more than one in a row, to get the root system established, especially in the years after a burn…

    • It is possible that the annual Eurasian grasses will cause continuing decline of the blue oak woodland, among an unfortunately long list of anthropogenic factors that could prevent recruitment. But the seeds do germinate and I imagine the seedling taproots do at least get past the root zone of the annual grasses most years. I envision the tap root as being in a race to the water table that it almost always loses except in exceptional years. In contrast, in Utah the Quercus gambelii recruit just fine but live for decades as shrubs pruned by browsing deer.

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