(Science) Summer Holiday!


We’re all going on a (science) summer holiday!

EcoEvo@TCD will be taking a short break for the summer so we won’t be updating the blog through July and August. Between us I think we’re attending five or six conferences, giving almost 20 talks and posters, and visiting three different continents, all for SCIENCE! Some of us are also taking a well-earned break. I am currently hiking around the wilds of Yellowstone attempting to spot wolves, bison, and moose, and aiming not to get eaten by bears! When we get back we’ll report on the highlights of conference season and bring you more ecology and evolution related news, views and advice.

I hope you all have a safe, fun and productive summer! See you September!


Natalie Cooper: ncooper[at]tcd.ie

Photo credit

Wikimedia commons

How to build a vulture trap

Last month I spent a month in Mbuluzi Game Reserve in Swaziland attempting to build a walk-in trap that will allow me to capture vultures. I want to be able to tag the birds with GPS trackers and ask a host of interesting questions from which a flood of Nature papers will follow.

Step 1 - Clear the area
Step 1 – Clear the area
Step 2 - Create some support for the poles
Step 2 – Create some support for the poles
Step 3 - Erect the frame
Step 3 – Erect the frame
Step 4 - Add the mesh
Step 4 – Add the mesh
Step 5 - bait the area (this sickly Waterbuck had died)
Step 5 – bait the area (this sickly Waterbuck had died)
Step 6 - record everything that comes down
Step 6 – record everything that comes down
Step 7 - play the waiting game (perching African White-backed Vultures)
Step 7 – play the waiting game (perching African White-backed Vultures)

We’ll have to wait for the vultures to get habituated to the area before adding the front to the trap. Once this happens we can proceed. So this is a ‘to be continued’…


Adam Kane: kanead[at]tcd.ie

Photo credit

Adam Kane


Why dating a scientist has ruined my life


Did you know that otter’s penises are shrinking? I didn’t. Until I was informed of that by my scientist girlfriend. I can no longer look at otters the same way again. Science ruins everything.

I used to enjoy life. The future promised to us by Back to the Future was so close! That all ended the day I started going out with a scientist.

I’m now a cynic. I don’t trust anything that isn’t peer reviewed and even then, what’s the impact factor of the journal? I even know some journals by name now! About 50% of the time I can say “Congrats on getting published in PNAS” without laughing.

Nights out with scientists are different to nights with any other group of people. While most people like to leave their work behind them, scientists take theirs with them and just get slightly louder while they discuss it. It must be how Robin Ince feels when he goes for dinner over at Brian Cox‘s, but instead of talking about the Higgs Boson the topics range from the plight of the buff tailed bumblebee to dinosaur biomechanics. Who knew dinosaurs could be so boring? I didn’t. Until I started dating a scientist.

Peer review is a twisted system. It’s a place where people can be just downright mean to others and get away with it. It seems that the point of peer review is not just to ensure that only the best research gets published in the best journals, but to make those whose work isn’t good enough feel stupid and embarrassed that they thought their puny intellect was capable of appearing in a journal as glorious as the almighty [redacted]!

I must admit, it hasn’t ALL been bad, I no longer think everything gives me cancer (who knew The Daily Mail wasn’t a reliable source?!) That’s right, this blog PROBABLY won’t cause cancer.

I now look forward to being told that my blog doesn’t ask a question, didn’t have a hypothesis and had no supporting data. I haven’t even cited anything. I’m ok with those inevitable criticisms. If they get me down I just have to keep reminding myself, only two more years until we get hoverboards.


David Fortune: davidfortune23[at]gmail.com

Photo credit

Wikimedia Commons