You might think that bats are scary. But do you know what would be even scarier? To live in a world without them. Bats are key providers of ecosystem services and their disappearance would translate into enormous economic losses and arguably wide-scale ecosystem collapse. Yet, despite their vital importance, bats have long been subject of disdain, persecution and cultural prejudice. These negative stigmas have recently been reinforced by virological studies that have attracted widespread media coverage. Today, my colleagues Adrià López-Baucells, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares and I have published a perspective piece in Mammal Review, arguing that by portraying bats solely as a threat to human health, most virological bat-related studies provide a skewed vision of the group and reinforce a culture of fear that undermines decades of conservation efforts.
Not only the 2017 R (https://www.r-project.org/) user conference has a #diversity scholarship aimed at “provide an opportunity for traditionally under-represented individuals (such as, but not limited to, #LGBTQ people, #women, ethnic #minorities, or those with #disabilities) who might not otherwise be able to attend due to logistical or financial constraints” but they also provide #childcare https://user2017.brussels/news/2017/user-2017-childcare and have a code of conduct aimed at providing an “harassment-free conference experience for everyone regardless of #gender, gender expression, #sexual orientation, #disability, physical appearance, body size, #race, or #religion (or lack thereof)” https://user2017.brussels/code-of-conduct
The bar has been raised in terms of promoting #Diversity and a culture of #Respect at scientific gatherings.
The useR!2017 organisers are leading by example and I hope other conferences will adhere to the same level.
Someone once said that “a journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles”.
Well, I somehow feel that something similar can be said about PhDs. I have been lucky enough to have a PhD that has been a journey both in the figurative and literal sense. This marvelous journey has been shared with many friends that have greatly contributed for it to be much more enjoyable that it would otherwise have been. Words fall short to express my gratitude but in the following lines I’ll do my best to express how thankful I am to all those colleagues, institutions and friends that have been part of making this dream come true.
So, in Lisbon and with no plans for the 21st of January? Why not drop by the Faculty of Sciences (University of Lisbon) and learn about the birds & bats of Madagascar?
Ana Rainho and Ricardo Lima have invited several ecologists & conservationists to speak about their experiences in some exotic corners of the world for the tropical ecology course they co-run (as part of the MSc in Conservation Biology). The conferences will take place between 12-13h in the room 2.3.13 and will cover a wide range of topics & taxa. Anyone can join so please feel free to drop by.
After several months of hard work (two of which in the deep Amazonian jungle), Diogo is finally a MSc! He has joined the team in mid-2014, to investigate how Neotropical bats respond to seasonality within a fragmented landscape and I had the great pleasure to act as his supervisor alongside my own supervisor, Christoph Meyer. Needless to say that it was a tremendously gratifying experience. Diogo presented himself as an enthusiastic learner with a great passion for all things ecological and conservation related. He has an outgoing (and easy-going) personality and it was great fun to work with. His work is due to be submitted soon. Stay tuned for the manuscript.
Functional traits such as diet, mobility and body mass dictate species’ capacity to persist in human-modified landscapes. Understanding how such traits interact with environmental characteristics allows a crystal-ball view into the future of biodiversity under different land-use scenarios. In a study now published in the Journal of Applied Ecology we did just that for Neotropical bats, finding that the future looks gloomy for large-bodied, less-vagile, non-vegetarian species.
The tension between the Bolivia’s government and the country’s environmental community has reached a worrying point, with President Evo Morales threatening to expel any opposing voices to natural resource exploitation in the country. A correspondence now published in Naturehighlights the pivotal work of Bolivian civil organisations in protecting the nation’s exceptional biological and cultural diversity and urges the international scientific community to keep a vigilant eye on shifts towards weaker environmental policies in the country.
In the mid-70s a heated debate over the applicability of E. O. Wilson & Robert MacArthur’s Theory of Island Biogeography to conservation planning puzzled ecologists around the globe. Some defended that the best approach to conserve biodiversity was to create large reserves whereas others argued that several smaller reserves would do a better job. This debate, which came to be known as SLOSS (Single Large or Several Small), eventually triggered the North American conservationist Thomas Lovejoy to design a large scale experiment to try to obtain much needed data to support the debate, which until then was mainly about ecological theory than actual data. The project, initially christened as Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystem Project came to be in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, 80 km North of Manaus, Brazil.