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Sharks International 4
In October 2022, I attended the fourth instalment of the Sharks International Conference, held at the Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain.
It was a jammed packed couple of days and I was left exhausted but really enriched by the science and the opportunities to meet researchers of all stages and interests. It was amazing to meet early career researchers like myself, and all-time greats whose papers I've read and admired my entire career.
It's a experience I won't soon forget and I look forward to the next one in 2026.
FSBI Annual Symposium 2022
In July 2022, I was able to attend the Fisheries Society of the British Isles annual symposium, titled 'Fish in a Dynamic World', at Nottingham-Trent University's Brackenhurst Campus, in the UK.
It was a great few days of getting to meet fish biologists and ecologists from around the world who conduct their research or work in the UK. All delegates stayed on the campus in the student accommodation, and this allowed for really natural conversation over meals, coffees, and the amazing walking paths around the rural campus. We had talks from megalodon to fish larvae to the economics of feeding the world with seafood. It was an amazing experience, and I'm so glad it was my first in-person conference.
Well done and many thanks to the organisers from the FSB and Nottingham Trent University!
Visit to the Environmental Learning Center, July 2022
In July 2022 I was home visiting family in both New Jersey and Florida. Having recently been in touch with the ELC for an 'Our Impact...' piece in their Annual Report, I reached out to say I was in the neighbourhood and would stop by to show my partner around the campus and see what new educational installations the ELC has been hard at developing over the years since I left. It was so great to be back and see the work going on to preserve the beautiful cross-mangrove trails and viewing platforms, and to see the student learning places so well-maintained and multiplying! I took a few photos and videos of our visit there, so please enjoy the scenes from the Indian River Lagoons Environmental Learning Center!
It was great to be back, and I hope to be back in the area again and get to walk the trails again soon!
(For more information on my time at the ELC, and the impact it's had on my career, see the item below 'Interview for the Environmental Learning Center'.)
Interview for Environmental Learning Center
Indian River Shores, Florida, USA
The ELC is a conservation and and ecology education centre in south east Florida. I've been lucky enough to visit the ELC my entire life as it's just around the corner from my grandparents house. And when I was looking for opportunities in between years at University, it was my first stop. In the summer of 2015 I was part of the first ever Naturalist internship programme at the ELC. It was an amazing experience: I received Naturalist training, and applied those skills in developing ethograms for the various locations around the ELC grounds, and connected locations; I worked with the Dept. of Environmental Protection to conduct seagrass surveys in the brackish Indian River; I worked with a Land Trust to survey salt marshes along the river; and I got to experience seahorse husbandry research at the Vero Beach Marine Laboratory (FAU); and some how even more.
For this Annual Report I was asked to reflect on my time at the ELC, and the impact it has had on my career. Click on through and give it a read! (You can find the interview it on pages 10-11)
Journal Club, October 2021: Bayesian regression model of Chimp behaviour
Kalan, A.K., et al. 2020. Environmental variability supports chimpanzee behavioural diversity. Nat Commun 11, 4451.Link to article.
This paper is a great example of how to apply Bayesian principles to an ecological question and interpret the results - the language is accessible, and the methods clear, making it a great entry point to applying Bayes. It's also accessible to those who don't do chimpanzee behavioural research. Not to mention the results were really interesting, well stated, and provide lots to discuss, in the wider sphere of ecology, evolution, and within-species behavioural diversification.
Discussion points include but are not limited too:
Why chose a Bayesian framework and model in this case?
The complexity of scale, both empirically and theoretically, specifically temporal scale
Bayesian regression models
Informative versus uninformative priors in Bayesian modelling, and comparing flat, wide and weak priors based on current knowledge.
Blog Post: Why do I care about lemon sharks?
I am a part of the ConScience Conservation Science Hub at the University of Exeter. In Autumn 2021, I contributed a blog post to their website titled 'Why do I care about lemon sharks?'. The piece discusses how my experiences in youth translated to a passion for mangrove ecosystems, and later behavioural ecology and conservation. It tracks through my early early career, through work experiences, to my current position as a PhD student at the University of Exeter, studying the complex seascape defined by energy expenditure and fear avoidance in juvenile lemon sharks in a shallow mangrove nursery, in Bimini, Bahamas. To read more, click the 'My Blog Post' button located adjacent to this! I hope you enjoy.
After the post was published by ConScience, I was contacted by an environmental outreach centre I had volunteered with back in 2015, the Environmental Learning Center (ELC), located on the Indian River Lagoon in south east Florida. You can read the article based on our interview above ('Interview for Environmental Learning Center').
Journal Club, September 2021: the STRANGE framework, and sTrange stickles
My 2021 publication in Ethology, concerning about sticklebacks and personality-bias in a common trapping method, is the foundational work for the 'T' in Mike Webster and Christian Rutz's 'STRANGE' framework.
The STRANGE framework is a tool for assessing the potential biases in your research of wild, semi-captive, and captive animals. Though not all bias can be eliminated, it should be a priority of modern ecology to be transparent in identifying and stating the potential areas of bias in our work. The STRANGE framework is a tool for doing just this, and also lends well to academic discussion groups.
I lead a Journal Club style discussion in Richard Sherley's research group at Exeter, Marine Predator Ecology and Conservation, of which I am a member, where we discussed the ways in which our methods may introduced bias in our analyses.
ASAB Summer Conference 2021, recorded talk.
I was asked to present my work on personality bias in three-spined sticklebacks as part of the STRANGE framework satellite meeting. This is my pre-recorded talk. I hope you enjoy the content and format!