Some thoughts on #EuMacro

I was going to tweet a few things about the EuMacro meeting in Copenhagen I was just at, but it turns out it I’ll need a bit more room, so I’ll finally use this blog for something!

While on the subject of Twitter, it was fantastic to meet a lot of people I tweet at but hadn’t yet met in person, and fantastic to get another 20+ new followers from the meeting. It really makes a difference when you are travelling a long distance by yourself to be able to be in good company straight away!

This was one of those meetings I know that I’ll refer back to quite often when thinking about direction of my future research.

For me there are a couple of strong themes I wanted to quickly make points of now:

1. The “unholy trinity” (WorldClim, GBIF, Maxent (or other SDM method)) still serve a purpose in directing your arguments but shouldn’t form the core of information and analysis that is pervasive through macroecology (of which I am also terribly guilty). Related to this is the ubiquity of correlating traits/diversity/richness etc. with such data without understanding the mechanisms underneath these patterns. The take away message is: do experiments. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot during my postdoc and I’m going to challenge myself to do more research that is both testable and of which I’m able to test myself…

2. The publishing circus panel discussion was a fantastic insight into the concerns of researchers and the view of editors. It strikes me that we are all largely on the same side (editors, researchers), but the source of frustration is that we have a) created a system that favours quantity over quality and that b) major publishers have capitalised on this and are able to extort the currency of publishing. There is a lot of discussion on this topic already, but I think now that further dialogue should include library representatives to increase the bargaining power of those that actually do and distribute the research..

3. Many (European) macroecologists work in systems they don’t live anywhere near. Granted, the meeting was #EuMacro, but perhaps the concentration of expertise in this field needs to be better engaged with some of the developing world scientists to ensure that the theory, tools and practise are well represented and employed in the regions that ecologists are typically more interested in understanding. Perhaps they are and I have this wrong, and I know there are some good collaborations between South African and European scientists for instance, but often the skills etc. don’t remain near to the study regions as well as they should.

Perhaps its time for #AfroMacro…

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