Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New issue published: vol 126 issue 2

We have now published the Spring 2012 issue of CFN.  We are well on our way to being fully caught up in our publication schedule!  The table of contents is below with links to the articles.  You'll find great articles on rodents, bats, birds, and the Yew tree among other things. Enjoy!

Ecology of a Recently Discovered Population Segment of Blanding’s Turtles, Emydoidea blandingii, in Barren Meadow and Keddy Brooks, Nova Scotia (89-94)
José Lefebvre, Stephen W. Mockford, Tom B. Herman

An Addition to the Mammalian Fauna of Saskatchewan: The Western Harvest Mouse, Reithrodontomys megalotis (95-102)
Gilbert Proulx, Benjamin P. Proulx

Distribution and Relative Abundance of Richardson’s Ground Squirrels,Urocitellus richardsonii, According to Soil Zones and Vegetation Height in Saskatchewan During a Drought Period (103-110)
Gilbert Proulx, Keith MacKenzie, Neil MacKenzie

Trends and Fluctuations in Bird Populations on the Tundra at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut (111-116)
C. Martin Lok, Jaap A. J. Vink

Foods of Bats (Family Vespertilionidae) at Five Locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts (117-124)
Howard H. Thomas, Paul R. Moosman, Jacques Pierre Veilleux, Jason Holt

Bat Populations and Cave Microclimate Prior to and at the Outbreak ofWhite-Nose Syndrome in New Brunswick (125-134)
Karen J. Vanderwolf, Donald F. McAlpine, Graham J. Forbes, David Malloch

Site Fidelity and Annual Survival of the Western Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens auricollis) at the Northern Edge of its Range (135-142)
René McKibbin, Christine A. Bishop

Genetic Evidence Supports Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) × Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) Hybridization in Atlantic Canada (143-147)
Linda A. Lait, Randy F. Lauff, Theresa M. Burg

High Spring Mortality of Adult Richardson’s Ground Squirrels, Urocitellus richardsonii, Associated with a Severe Rainstorm in Southwestern Saskatchewan (148-151)
Gilbert Proulx

Size of Territories and Home Ranges of Male Western Yellow-breasted Chats (Icteria virens auricollis) in British Columbia (152-156)
René McKibbin, Christine A. Bishop

Urban White-tailed Jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii) Eat Spike Plants (Cordyline australis) in Winter (157-159)
Alwynne B. Beaudoin, Yves Beaudoin

Resistance of Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis) Branch Wood to Two Wood Decay Fungi (160-163)
Dana L. Richter, Amy M. Berns, Clare F. Frederick

Tributes and Obituaries
A Tribute to Charles Hogg Douglas, 1923–2004 (164-166)
Edward L. Bousfield, Francis R. Cook

A Tribute to Phillip Merrill Youngman: 1927–2011 (167-171)
Irwin M. Brodo, Francis R. Cook

Book Reviews
"All the Birds of Nova Scotia" by Ian McLaren. 2012. [book review] (172-173)
Roy John

"The ROM Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Ontario" by E. Nicholas et al. 2009. [book review] (173-174)
Brian W. Coad

"Population Demography of Northern Spotted Owls" by E. Forsman et al. 2011. [book review] (174-175)
C. Stuart Houston

"Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico. Volume 1" by C. Ernst, and E. Ernst. 2011. [book review] (175)
David Seburn

"A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia" by Robert Burton and John Croxall. 2012. [book review] (176-177)
Roy John

"The Ecology of Plant Secondary Metabolites: From Genes to Global Processes" edited by G. Iason et al. 2012. [book review] (178)
William J. Crins

"In the Memory of the Map: A Cartographic Memoir" by C. Norment. 2012. [book review] (179-180)
Alwynne B. Beaudoin

New titles (181)

News and Comment
Emergency COSEWIC Assessment for Three Species of Bats; The Canadian Herpetologist Spring 2012; Global Wildlife Resources - Wildlife Handling Job Board; Letter to the Editor responding to book review (182-183)

Club Reports
Editor’s Report for Volume 125 (2011) (184-185)
Carolyn C. Callaghan

Instructions for Authors (186-188)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CFN Corporate Executives in Action

Our latest Publications Committee meeting was held at our Editor-in-Chief's farm.  Carolyn took us on a tour and we (actually, not so much me as the wiser naturalists there) compiled a list of species on her property, including some regionally rare ones.  Carolyn's horses were my son's favourite finds of the day!  He is still galloping around at home with what looks like a cross between a mad horse and Gangnam Style.

It's nice to be a part of a team that walks the walk, loving natural history.  I doubt Elsevier's committee meetings are in similar settings.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New issue published: vol 126 issue 1

The first transport is away!  By first transport, I mean first issue of vol 126 (our 2012 volume).  And by away, I mean published.  If you're confused, I recommend you re-watch The Empire Strikes Back a couple of dozen times to be cool like me get the reference.

Below is our table of contents with links to abstracts.  Our next issue will be coming shortly as Carolyn continues her Jedi mind tricks hard work getting our publication schedule back on time.  Enjoy!

CFN Vol 126 issue 1 cover

Occurrence of the Maritime Shrew (Sorex maritimensis) in Black Spruce (Picea mariana) Forest Stands in Southeastern New Brunswick (1-5)        Julie Henderson,        Graham Forbes

Body Condition and Survival of Vagrant Long-billed Murrelets, Brachyramphusperdix, in North America (6-14)
        Spencer G. Sealy,       Harry R. Carter

Greater Scaup, Aythya marila, Nest Site Characteristics on Grassy Island, New Brunswick (15-19)
        Jon T. McRoberts,       Nicole T. Quintana,     W. Andrew Smith,        Warren B. Ballard,        F. Patrick Kehoe,       Timothy G. Dilworth

Abundance and Habitat Selection of Breeding Scoters (Melanitta spp.) inOntario’s Hudson Bay Lowlands (20-27)        Rodney W. Brook,        Kenneth F. Abraham,     Kevin R. Middel,        R. Kenyon Ross

Implantation and Parturition Dates of North American River Otters, Lontracanadensis, in Southern Missouri (28-30)        Nathan M. Roberts,      Shawn M. Crimmins,      David A. Hamilton,      Elsa Gallagher

Kudzu Vine, Pueraria montana, Adventive in Southern Ontario (31-33)        Gerald E. Waldron,      Brendon M. H. Larson

First Observations of Mormon Metalmark (Apodemia mormo) OvipositionBehaviour in Canada (34-37)        Ashley Anne Wick,       Johane Janelle, Shelley Pruss,  Nadir Erbilgin

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Predation on Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus) inPennsylvania (38-40)        Suzanne M. Khalafalla,  Carlos A. Iudica

An Anomalous Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) Egg (41-45)        Theresa M. Burg,        Randolph F. Lauff

An Extra-Limital Population of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Cynomysludovicianus, in Central Alberta (46-49)        Helen E. Trefry,        Geoffrey L. Holroyd

A Specimen of the High Arctic Subspecies of Atlantic Puffin, Fraterculaarctica naumanni, in Canada (50-54)        Anthony J. Gaston,      Jennifer F. Provencher

Vancouver Island Marmots (Marmota vancouverensis) Consume PlantsContaining Toxic Secondary Compounds (55-58)
        Jeffery R. Werner

New Avian Breeding Records for Iqaluit, Nunavut (59-60)
        David J. T. Hussell,    Jeremy A. T. Hussell,   Erica H. Dunn

Tributes and Obituaries
A Tribute to James Herbert Soper, 1916–2012 (61-67)
        Erich Haber

Book Reviews
"How to be a Better Birder" by Derek Lovitch. 2012. [book review] (68-69)
        Howard O. Clark

"Birds of Algonquin Park" by Ron Tozer. 2012. [book review] (69-70)
        Fred Helleiner

"Birds of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire" by Bart de Boer et al. 2012. [book review] (70-71)
        Roy John

"A Guide to the Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives" by Richard Grimmett et al. 2012. [book review] (71)
        Roy John

"Assessment of species diversity in the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone" edited by Donald F. McAlpine and Ian M. Smith. 2010. [book review] (71-75)
        Paul M. Catling

"Ecological Restoration" by Susan M. Galatowitsch. 2012. [book review]
        Barry R. Taylor

"Encountering the Wild" by Carol Bennet McCuaig. 2011. [book review] (77)
        Jim O'Neill

"Global Warming (Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America)" by Brian C. Black and Gary J. Weisel. 2010. [book review] (77-79)
        Alwynne B. Beaudoin

"Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift To a New Energy Future" by Steve Hallett with John Wright. 2011. [book review] (80)
        Jim O'Neill

"Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Introduction to Marine Science" by David W. Townsend. 2012. [book review] (81)
        Eric L. Mills

"Social Networks and Natural Resource Management: Uncovering the Social Fabric of Environmental Governance" edited by Örjan Bodin and Christina Prell. 2011. [book review] (81-83)
        Tremayne Stanton-Kennedy

Ecosystem Series: "Who Needs a Swamp?", "Who Needs a Jungle?", and "Who Needs an Iceberg?" by Karen Patkau. 2012. [children's books review] (83)
        Carolyn Callaghan

"Who Will Save My Planet?" by Maria Christina Urrutia. 2012. [children's book review] (83-84)
        Carolyn Callaghan

New titles (84-85)
        Roy John

News and Comment
Dr. Warren Baxter Ballard, Jr. 1947–2012 (86)
        Carolyn Callaghan

On the Discovery of Eastern Leatherwood (Dirca palustris) (86-88)
        Yaseen Mottiar

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Conference listing: a present from us to you

A couple months ago I posted a list of upcoming biology conferences related to North American natural history.  It included dates, places, websites, and Twitter streams for each.  Turns out, people really liked it.  So I've changed our blog to add a conference listing as a distinct page.  I'll update the list periodically to remove finished conferences and add more upcoming ones.  You can bookmark the page and keep checking back periodically to find out what conferences interest you.  We hope many biologists, naturalists, and curious enthusiasts will rely on this page as their go-to source for conferences - it should save people time from tracking so many societies' websites themselves.

Also, we will be at this weekend's Entomological Society of Ontario conference, near our home in Ottawa, Ontario.  We will have a booth.  I may or may not be biking there, so I'll see how much of a sponsor booth I can fit in my backpack and paniers!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Twitter: useful and getting usefuler

A few weeks ago I posted that our new Twitter account was proving mildly useful.  More time has passed, allowing a more thorough investigation.  I'm a scientist - I trust data.

The following data were obtained from Google Analytics Aug 23, measuring traffic to the CFN website over the past month.  We usually get around 50-60 visits per weekday (it drops by half on weekends).  If you have a website and haven't used Google Analytics, I suggest you do so; it's free, easy to use, and gives lots of info.

Of the 472 visits in the past month that came from referrals (i.e., a link from a non-CFN webpage to the CFN site), 55% were from the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club website (the publisher of CFN).  10% were from this blog.  And 11%, representing 53 visits, were from Twitter's t.co domain (the remaining 24% were from a scattering of smaller sources).  These Twitter visitors stayed on the CFN site longer (over 6 min on average) and visited more CFN pages (11 on average) than non-Twitter visitors.

I am especially impressed with these numbers because our Twitter account is still new, with the number of followers growing daily (we just grew to 142 a couple of hours ago - thanks @wrnaturalist!).  Getting so many visitors is great, but seeing how deep they explore our site, reading articles and searching for species with our search tool, is what makes me really happy.  Twitter visitors are our journal's best visitors.

Why are Twitter visitors so great?  Because they are our target market.  These people have chosen to follow us, or else they've found out about us via retweets from accounts they do follow.  Our tweets go to people who want to read them.  This precision contrasts with advertising, which spews a message out to a large number of people who mostly don't care about it.  Twitter is free, efficient, and beneficial.  For a journal like ours that has more passion than money (we're non-profit, and keep subscription fees low so people and small conservation groups can subscribe), Twitter is a very useful engine*.

How did we build a large effective following so quickly?  I'll blog about that soon.  But our overall approach is to be consistent with the CFN brand: nature-loving, and less boring than the mega-publishers.  We're not just spitting out press release style announcements of new CFN papers; we provide added value to our followers by being a fun and useful go-to resource for Canadian natural history information.  And we help our followers when we can.  Mega-publishers can buy attention; we're earning ours, with the help of Twitter.  That helps our authors, our readers, ourselves, and hopefully nature in general.

* Yes this is a reference to Thomas the Tank Engine.  My son is brainwashing me.  Serves me right for brainwashing him to be a Leafs fan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New issue published: vol 125 issue 4

We just published the latest issue of The Canadian Field-Naturalist.  Vol 125 issue 4 is the final issue of our 2011 volume, and we're getting set to publish our first issue of our 2012 volume shortly.  It feels great to be catching up our publication lag; big thanks to former and current Editors-in-Chief Francis Cook and Carolyn Callaghan, respectively, for their work catching us up.  The issue just published has lots of great research, book reviews, and a couple of tributes.  Owls, bees, invasive plants, wolves, and a note and cover photo featuring the eeriest salamanders you've ever seen.

The Canadian Field-Naturalist
Vol 125, No 4 (2011)
Table of Contents

Bees and Butterflies in Burned and Unburned Alvar Woodland: Evidence for theImportance of Postfire Succession to Insect Pollinator Diversity in anImperiled Ecosystem (297-306)        Alana N. Taylor,        Paul M. Catling

Some Observations of Short-eared Owl,  Asio flammeus , Ecology on ArcticTundra, Yukon, Canada (307-315)        Donald G. Reid, Frank I. Doyle, Alice J. Kenney,        Charles J. Krebs

Effects of Post-Fire Salvage Logging on Cavity-Nesting Birds and SmallMammals in Southeastern Montana (316-326)        William J. Kronland,    Marco Restani

Saxicolous Bryophytes of an Ordovician Dolomite Escarpment in InterlakeManitoba, with New Species Records for the Province (327-337)        Richard T. Caners

Rarity Status Assessments of Bugseeds (Amaranthaceae:  Corispermum ) inManitoba (338-352)        Diana Bizecki Robson

Gray Wolf ( Canis lupus ) Movements and Behavior Around a Kill Site andImplications for GPS Collar Studies (353-356)        L. David Mech

Butterflies Recorded on Flattop Mountain, Anchorage, Alaska (357-358)        Lance A. Durden

A Second Amelanistic Eastern Red-backed Salamander,  Plethodon cinereus ,from Nova Scotia, Canada (359-362)        Ronald W. Russell,      Wilfried Beslin,        Maia Hudak,     Ayokunle Ogunbiyi,      AveryWithrow,        John Gilhen

Communal Oviposition in the Northern Two-lined Salamander ( Euryceabislineata ) in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario (363-365)        David L. LeGros

Fetid Dogweed ( Dyssodia papposa ; Asteraceae) and Slender Russian Thistle (Salsola collina ; Amaranthaceae), New to Alberta, Canada (366-369)        Michael J. Oldham,      Joyce Gould,    Jane M. Bowles

Tributes and Obituaries
Robert (Bob) Ronald Campbell (1943–2011): Biologist, Conservationist,
Pastor (370-372)
        Claude B. Renaud

A Tribute to Joseph Schieser Nelson, 1937–2011 (373-380)
        Alison M. Murray,       Michael G. Sullivan,    John Acorn

Book Reviews
"Handbook of Birds of the World. Volume 16: Tanagers to New World
Blackbirds" edited by Josep del Hoyo et al. [book review] (381-382)
        Roy John

"National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America – Sixth
Edition" by Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer. 2011. [book review] (382)
        Roy John

"Carnivores of the World" by Luke Hunter. 2011. [book review] (382-383)
        Roy John

"Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities" by Peter W. Price et
al. 2011. [book review] (383)
        Joel F. Gibson

"Petrels, Albatrosses and Storm Petrels of North America" by Steve N. G.
Howell. 2012. [book review] (384)
        Roy John

"Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico. Volume
2:  Crotalus " by Carl H. Ernst and Evelyn M. Ernst. 2012. [book review]
        David Seburn

"Cactus Plant Resources and Utilization" edited by Tian Guohang and Zhao
Tianbang. 2011. [book review] (385-386)
        Li Dezhi,       Qin Aili

"Walnut Germplasm Resources in China" edited by Pei Dong and Lu Xinzheng.
2011. [book review] (386-387)
        Li Dezhi,       Qin Aili

"Interactions and Coevolution of Life and Earth Environment" edited by Xie
Shucheng et al. 2011. [book review] (388-389)
        Li Dezhi,       Qin Aili

"Techniques for Restoration and Reconstruction of Mangrove Forests in China"
by Liao et al. 2011. [book review] (389-390)
        Li Dezhi,       Qin Aili

"!Priority! The Dating of Scientific Names in Ornithology: A Directory to
the Literature and its Reviewers" compiled and edited by Edward C. Dickinson
et al. 2011. [book review] (390-391)
        C. Stuart Houston

"A Zoologist on Baffin Island – 1953" by Adam Watson. 2011. [book review]
        Ian McLaren

New titles (392-394)
        Roy John

News and Comment
Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada Awards 2011; The Canadian
Herpetologist Fall 2011; Naming Rights to Two Newly Discovered Lichens
Auctioned Off as Fundraisers for Two B.C. Environmental Groups; Phillip
Merrill Youngman: 1927-2011 (395-396)

Index to Volume 125 (397-413)

 Club Reports
Instructions for authors (414-416)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Upcoming biological conferences (locations, websites, & twitter streams)

Conferences are awesome.  Whether you're looking for conferences to attend, follow on Twitter, or just curious of what's out there, here are some relevant to North American natural history happening in the remainder of 2012 (and Jan 2013), sorted chronologically.  If you have additional suggestions note them in the comments - I'll be updating the list as I learn of more conferences.

For tips on how to tweet from conferences, and ways to organize a conference to maximize tweeting, see these tips from @WhySharksMatter.
  1. World Congress of Herpetology
    Aug 8-14 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Twitter: #wch2012
  2. North American Ornithological Conference
    Aug 14-18 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Twitter: #NAOC2012
  3. Acadian Entomological Society
    Aug 15-17 2012
    Fredericton, NB
  4. American Fisheries Society
    Aug 19-23 2012
    Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
    Twitter: #AFS2012
  5. Terrestrial Invasive Plant Species Conference
    Aug 20-22 2012
    Sault Ste Marie, ON
  6. International Paleolimnology Symposium
    Aug 21-24 2012
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Twitter: #IPS12
  7. Canadian Paleontology Conference
    Sept 21-23 2012
    Toronto, ON
  8. Entomological Society of Ontario
    Sept 28-30 2012
    Ottawa, ON
    Twitter: #ESO2012
  9. EcoSummit
    Sept 30 - Oct 5 2012
    Columbus, OH
    Twitter: #EcoSummit2012
  10. North American Field Herping Association
    Oct 5-7 2012
    Grand Tower, IL
  11. Entomological Society of British Columbia
    Oct 11-12 2012
    Summerland, BC
  12. Entomological Society of Manitoba
    Oct 12-13 2012
    Winnipeg, MB
  13. Wildlife Society Annual Conference
    Oct 13-18 2012
    Portland, OR
    Twitter: #tws2012
  14. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
    Oct 17-20 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    Twitter: #2012SVP
  15. Entomological Societies of Canada and Alberta
    Nov 4-7 2012
    Edmonton, AB
    Twitter: #ESC2012
  16. American Cetacean Society
    Nov 9-11 2012
    San Diego, CA
    Twitter: #ACS2012
  17. Entomological Society of America
    Nov 11-14 2012
    Knoxville, TN
    Twitter: #entomology2012
  18. Pressing Questions in Paleoecology
    Dec 13-14 2012
    Oxford, UK
    Twitter: #paleo50
  19. Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research
    Jan 3-5 2013
    Windsor, ON

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Conference tweeting is like speed dating (but less awkward and more texty)

Why would anyone want to read tweets from an academic conference they're not attending?  This was my first impression of the lunacy of people tweeting from conferences.  Why would anyone compose those tweets*?  Who would read them?  And how can you get a 14 min talk into 140 characters (10 chars per minute of science)?

Then I tried it.  And I kinda liked it.  Reading the tweets from a conference you cannot attend is like reading its Coles Notes summary.  You find out some interesting research, and "meet" some tweeters you might want to follow.  And if you're a journal (hypothetically of course) you might even hear about some good research that could fit with your journal and warrant an e-mail to the author to find out more.

Conferences are where researchers present early research findings, seldom fully analyzed never mind published.  This is the raw stuff of science.  Conference talks are kind of like NHL prospects; they're exciting because they're raw and full of potential (with published papers being veteran NHLers in this perhaps-far-reaching simile that makes perfect sense to me as I write it at 11:30pm).  In person is by far the best way to attend a conference (you can't share a beer with a colleague via Twitter), but via Twitter is at least kinda sorta being at the conference.

Want to try it?  Good timing.  Right now there are two biological conferences relevant to North American natural history, both with Twitter streams you can check on to follow conference updates.

1. Ecological Society of America.  Aug 5-10 in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Twitter stream: #ESA2012

2. World Congress of Herpetology.  Aug 8-14 in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Twitter stream: #wch2012

Unlike speed dating, if you don't like a tweeter you can just skip to the next one without hurting their feelings or wasting a precious six minutes of your time.  And you can do it wearing your comfy grubby clothes, pit-stains and all.

*I'm referring to tweets composed after a talk as opposed to during the talk itself, which must take the tweeter's attention away from the very talk they like so much that they're tweeting it (as Jeremy Fox has noted in his blog).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Inside Nature's Giants = awesome doc series

I recently watched the best biology documentary series I've seen that does not involve David Attenborough.  Inside Nature's Giants is a British series in which a different large animal is dissected each episode with experts on hand to provide analysis and interpretation.  I have watched episodes of the elephant, whale, and giraffe, and learned things every episode.  The constraints and adaptations associated with elephants' legs, for example, blew me away.  I'm an insect-lover myself, so vertebrate physiology and anatomy is pretty foreign to me (what do you mean there's no exoskeleton?!), but the series struck the right balance of giving viewers broad context as an introduction before going deeper into details.

It's nice to see a great biology series that doesn't dumb down or over-sensationalize material.  Nature is cool enough without sound effects and techno-junk.  Encouraging to see such a good series from someone other than the BBC too (Channel 4 produces the show).  Maybe a Canadian channel could attempt to produce something ambitious like this (I'm delusional, I know).

Show website: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/inside-natures-giants/
YouTube video of elephant episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5ZbfpmnVMg

Saturday, June 30, 2012

New conference event: natural history walk July 6

We are sponsoring the upcoming Evolution Ottawa conference of ecologists and evolutionary biologists.  There are a few events happening for attendees and their families & friends just before and just after the conference (see list at http://www.confersense.ca/Evolution2012/tours.htm).  We just added another: a family-friendly natural history walk Fri July 6 9-11:00 AM at the Brittania Conservation Area.  Details are pasted below, including the Google Maps link that provides a map and detailed information (I'm proud of having figured out how to create a custom map so please click on it as a courtesy to me).  Dan Brunton is leading the walk, and if you know Dan then you know he'll do a great job - he knows natural history very well, he is involved in local conservation issues, and he's an effective, enthusiastic communicator.  No need to sign up - just show up!

Natural history walk: Brittania Conservation Area, Ottawa
Date: Friday July 6
Time: 9:00-11:00 AM
Explore the natural history of an impressive urban natural area, right by the shore of a globally significant waterway (Ottawa River), just 15 km west of the conference centre. See wildlife (lots of herps and birds), species at risk, relict vegetation communities, wildlife corridors, rare habitats, native vs invasive vegetation conflicts, and recreation and ecological protection issues. The trail from the northwest corner of Mud Lake to southwest is about one km - from there you can continue around the lake or return the way you came. The trail is flat, easy to walk, with lots of photo-friendly areas. For visitors who are wondering, you don’t need any bear spray. Walk led by Daniel Brunton, a local naturalist, ecological consultant (Brunton Consulting), and Chair of the Publications Committee of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club (www.ofnc.ca) publishing The Canadian Field-Naturalist (www.canadianfieldnaturalist.ca), sponsor of the 1st Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology. To join the walk, show up at 9:00 AM (sharp!) at the northwest corner of the Mud Lake trail. Map and description of this walk is at: http://goo.gl/maps/YnLn.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

We have a conference booth! With free stuff!


WE'VE GOT FREE promotional literature STUFF!
WE'VE GOT T-SHIRTS on our bodies AND FOOD for Carolyn and me AND LOTS OF BEER in our fridges at home.

Sigh (I didn't actually sigh, but I typed it).  I see the big-shot journals published by the mega-publishers are going to be giving away enticing stuff at their conference booths.  I'm pretty proud of the promotional literature I designed, but it can't compete with free t-shirts.  I suppose someone could tape a bunch of our CFN postcards together and wear them like a t-shirt, but I doubt that would be comfortable.

What is this conference, and what are we doing there?
It's a joint conference between several ecological and evolutionary societies, meeting here in Ottawa July 6-10.  The societies are:
Our journal has not done much promotional work in the past.  That is going to change.  We need to recruit more authors, readers, and subscribers for CFN.  In particular, we need to make biologists aware of the big changes that are going on with CFN.  Having a journal website, faster manuscript turnaround times, and increased media exposure of CFN articles should all appeal to academic biologists.  Also, our constructive editorial process is unlike those employed by many other journals who simply send accept/reject letters with reviewers' comments attached; our editors work with authors to get their manuscripts in publishable shape if the research is solid.  This constructive approach is especially helpful for students and other novice authors as they learn and gain confidence in the publication process.  Most biologists have heard of CFN, but we want them to make the connections between their work and publication opportunities in our journal.  I just hope biologists care about publication opportunities more than free t-shirts.

How can we compete with the mega-publishers?  They burn money like firewood (even pennies - don't they know pennies are valuable now?).  We, on the other hand, are non-profit, and keep our subscription fees low so even small conservation and wildlife groups can afford to subscribe.  But we do have passion and powerful* friends.
* may or may not be powerful

My good friend Dan Conroy is a graphic designer and designed an awesome banner for us.  He also edited our owl logo so it is more crisp, with a transparent background.  You will not notice a difference, but you would have noticed it in a bad way if he had not done his graphic Jedi work (these are not the pixels you're looking for...).

I designed some promotional postcard-sized materials telling biologists why they should consider publishing with CFN.  Crude jpg images of the postcards are below (they look better on paper).  All of our materials are published on FSC-certified (i.e., enviro-friendly) paper, with eco-solvent ink for our banner.  And I made a banner for the conference's mobile phone app.  And I figured out how to add those weird barcode thingies (QR codes) so people with magic phones can scan them on our literature and go to our website.  This owl is tech-savvy.

Our new Editor-in-Chief Dr. Carolyn Callaghan and I will be at the booth for the conference.  I'll also be giving a talk at Monday July 9 at 9:00am on the consistency (and lack thereof sometimes) of butterfly trait information across field guides and atlases.  Carolyn is fantastic (come meet her!) and we're both looking forward to meeting fellow biologists and learning about some exciting new research.  Just bring your own t-shirt.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What have I learned after one month of Twitter?

#notmuch (#justkidding) (#incaseyourewonderingthesearetwitterinsidejokesandmyspacebarisnotbroken)

I started up a Twitter account (@CanFieldNat) about a month ago with the goal of increasing readership and awareness of our journal.  I'm doing this by:
1. Announcing newly published articles
2. Creating and retweeting other information related to natural history with the goal of gaining followers and providing them with information they appreciate

I was skeptical of Twitter's usefulness.  So what do I think after one month?
I think that Twitter is useful ... to a point.  Twitter is actually useful for alerting new readers to CFN articles.  There are a number of hits to CFN's website through Twitter domains, indicating our tweets are indeed driving visitors to our articles.  That's good.  But Twitter can suck your time if you're not careful.  I'm skimming other people's tweets, but not diligently reading them all.

My friend Alex MacDonald (@NatureCanadaPAs) alerted me to a report, summarized here, describing effective methods of tweeting for organizations.  Interesting stuff.  For example, there is an optimal number of hashtags to include; too few and people don't find your tweets, too many and your tweets look messy and people dismiss them.  So I'll try a few of the report's suggestions in the future.  Except its suggestion of tweeting more on the weekends.  That's my time to go kayaking with my son.  I'd be a pretty bad naturalist (and father) if I gave that up for tweeting!  #FatherhoodFail


Thursday, May 31, 2012

This owl now tweets!

We now have a Twitter account.  Follow us @CanFieldNat to get article announcements and updates related to North American natural history.  I've added a Twitter widget (what an odd term) to the right side of this blog that shows our latest tweets.  It's Twitter - it's not supposed to be formal - so opinions expressed by the tweeter (I'm going to have to stop giggling every time I type these Twitter terms) Jay Fitzsimmons do not necessarily reflect those of The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club.  As far as I know, we are the first natural history journal to join the world of Twitter!  #rookiemistakesgalore

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Null results are useful results: frog declines and publication bias

An article in the latest issue of CFN investigated Chorus Frog populations over time near Ottawa, Canada.  The authors conclude that the Chorus Frog may have declined a bit in this area, but just how much it declined is difficult to determine due to insufficient historical data:

"The lack of historical data makes it difficult to assess the current status of the Western Chorus Frog in western Ottawa. The species may have declined, remained approximately the same (by shifting to different breeding sites), or even increased its distribution (by colonizing additional sites)." (from the article Abstract)

This is an example of a null result in an ecological study.  I argue that: 1) null results are important, and 2) null results are seldom published by bigshot journals.

1) Null results are important.  Seburn & Gunson's study (2011) did not simply provide a shrug of the shoulders as to whether Chorus Frogs are declining near Ottawa.  Despite not finding Chorus Frogs at several historically-occupied locations, they did find Chorus Frogs at many newly-documented areas around Ottawa, which suggests there has not been a major population collapse here as there have been in other areas.  This is important because the data provided in this paper allows further research into Chorus Frog declines in meta-analyses (i.e., big review studies that use data from lots of other studies).  Individual investigations published in journals provide data for meta-analyses of large-scale trends (Stewart, 2010).  Are frogs declining more in some climates than others?  Is there a relationship between habitat fragmentation and frog declines?  What role does soil pH play (Seburn & Gunson note that declines seem to have been more common in areas with acidic soil)?  These types of questions can only be answered by meta-analyses that make use of multiple studies such as the one by Seburn & Gunson.

2) Null results are seldom published by bigshot journals.  Bigshot journals tend to publish grand splashy conclusions that challenge our way of thinking.  Null results tend not to fall into this category.  Thus high-impact journals tend to publish "groundbreaking" studies with large effect sizes, while other journals publish continued research on the topic with smaller effect sizes and null results (Barto & Rillig, 2012).  Research reporting null or weak effect sizes are often of better scientific quality (e.g., larger sample sizes) than studies reporting grand effects (Barto & Rillig, 2012), suggesting the types of results published by high-impact journals are more prone to bias than those published by other journals.

This brings us to the "file drawer problem".  When researchers do their analyses and find a null result, often they toss this result into their file drawer (or computer folder nowadays) and never get around to writing it up for publication (Rosenthal, 1979).  The reasons are understandable.  Publishing an article takes a lot of work, and depending on a researcher's career status it may not be worth their while to spend their time publishing a null result knowing that: a) it will likely not be published in a high-impact journal, and b) job prospects often depend on publishing in high-impact journals.  So individuals' incentives lead to a publication bias whereby research is less likely to be published if it produces a null result, regardless of the quality of the science.  This bias leads to the body of scientific research not accurately representing reality, since an entire segment of results is less frequently published.

While I don't have data on CFN's recent performance at publishing null results, a study of ecological journals during 1989-1995 found that we published more null results than average (Csada et al., 1996).  I'm glad we routinely publish null results.  They aren't sexy, but they contribute to our understanding of nature.  Isn't that supposed to be our goal?

REFERENCES (some links require a subscription to that journal to see the article):
Barto, E.K., & Rillig, M.C. 2012. Dissemination biases in ecology: effect sizes matter more than quality. Oikos 121:228-235.
Csada, R.D., P.C. James, and Espie, R.H.M. 1996. The "file drawer problem" of non-significant results: does it apply to biological research? Oikos 76:591-593.
Rosenthal, R. 1979. The "file drawer problem" and tolerance for null results. Psychological Bulletin 86:638-641.
Seburn, D., & Gunson, K. 2011.Has the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) Declined in Western Ottawa, Ontario? The Canadian Field-Naturalist 125:220-226.
Stewart, G. 2010. Meta-analysis in applied ecology. Biology Letters 6:78-81.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Natural history workshops in Maine

Want to learn about nature while lodging at a field station in Maine, USA?  The Eagle Hill Institute has opened its registration for this year's courses and workshops.  Most courses last several days and focus on a specific topic (e.g., crustose lichens, salt marshes, ferns, etc.).  Different courses are targeted to different levels of expertise, and the fees seem reasonable.  The Canadian Field-Naturalist is not affiliated with the institute, but our readers enjoy natural history so I thought some of you might consider these courses the perfect vacation this summer.
Click here to go to Eagle Hill's course listing.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New issue published: 125(3)

We just published another issue of The Canadian Field-Naturalist.  The web version is online, and the print version was mailed on Friday.  There are some interesting articles and passionate book reviews.  Read them for free on CFN's journal website.  The previous issue was just published just a few weeks ago; CFN's editor-in-chief Dr. Carolyn Callaghan is doing a great job catching up our publication dates.

I recommend you read some of the book reviews, including Roy John's assessment of the latest field guide to birds of North America.

I'll write another post soon highlighting a research article or two in this new issue.  There are plenty of good ones to browse through, from a review of conservation threats to mammals in Canada, to the use of remote camera traps to photograph animals in Ontario, and of course the note associated with our front cover's enticing photo: white-nose syndrome in bats (and how raccoons eating dead bats can lead to underestimates of bat mortality).

Presence of Mammals in Ontario, Canada, Verified by Trail Camera Photographs
Between 2008 and 2010 (193-199)
Rick Rosatte

Effects of Feral Horses on Vegetation of Sable Island, Nova Scotia (200-212)
Bill Freedman, Paul M. Catling, Zoe Lucas

Major Threats Facing Terrestrial Mammals in Canada (213-219)
István Imre, Darren Derbowka

Has the Western Chorus Frog ( Pseudacris triseriata ) Declined in Western
Ottawa, Ontario? (220-226)
David C. Seburn, Kari Gunson

Alpine Plant Range Extensions for Northern British Columbia, Including Two
Species New to the Province (227-234)
Kendrick L. Marr, Richard J. Hebda, William H. MacKenzie

Slender False Brome ( Brachypodium sylvaticum , Poaceae), an Invasive Grass
New to Ontario, Canada (235-240)
Brian M. Miller, Robert J. Aitken, Michael J. Oldham, Anton A. Reznicek

Additions to the Vascular Flora of Ontario, Canada, from the Sutton Ridges,
Hudson Bay Lowland Ecoregion (241-247)
Michael J. Oldham, Samuel R. Brinker

Hairy St. John’s-wort ( Hypericum hirsutum  L.) in the Toronto Area, New
to North America (248-251)
Paul A. Heydon, Gavin C. Miller, Michael J. Oldham

Long-term Survival and Reproduction in a North American River Otter ( Lontra
canadensis ) with an Intraperitoneal Radio-Transmitter (252-254)
Jennifer A. Bohrman, Sadie S. Stevens, Thomas L. Serfass

American Pygmy Shrew,  Sorex hoyi , Consumed by an Arctic Grayling,
Thymallus arcticus  (255-256)
Thomas S. Jung, Angela Milani, Oliver E. Barker, Nathan P. Millar

Consumption of Bats ( Myotis  spp.) by Raccoons ( Procyon lotor ) During an
Outbreak of White-Nose Syndrome in New Brunswick, Canada: Implications for
Estimates of Bat Mortality (257-260)
Donald F. McAlpine, Karen J. Vanderwolf, Graham J. Forbes, David Malloch

Book Reviews
"Birds of North America and Greenland" by Norman Arlott. 2011. [book review]
Roy John

"Field Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago" by Martyn Kenefick, Robin
Restall, and Floyd Hayes. 2011. [book review] (261-262)
Roy John

"Managed Annihilation: An Unnatural History of the Newfoundland Cod
Collapse" by D. Bavington. 2010. [book review] (262-263)
Falk Huettmann

"Ecosystem-Based Management for Marine Fisheries: An Evolving Perspective"
edited by A. Belgrano and C. W. Fowler. 2011. [book review] (263-265)
Falk Huettmann

"Decline and Recovery of the Island Fox: A Case Study for Population
Recovery" by Timothy J. Coonan, Catherin A. Schwemm, and David K. Garcelon.
2010. [book review] (265-266)
Renate Sander-Regier

"Greater Sage-Grouse, Ecology and Conservation of a Landscape Species and
Its Habitats" edited by Steven T. Knick and John W. Connelly. 2011. [book
review] (266-268)
Jim Bendell

"Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals" edited by
Don E. Wilson and Russell A. Mittermeier. 2011. [book review] (268-269)
Roy John

"A Field Guide to Sea Stars of the Pacific Northwest" by N. McDaniel. 2011.
[book review] (269)
Andre Gerard

"Outbreak, Harm and Control of Algal Blooms in Lakes of China" by Yang Y.
Liuyan and Xiao Lin. 2011. [book review] (270-271)
Li Dezhi, Qin Aili

"Atlas of Biodiversity and Conservation in the Yangtze River Basin" by
Ouyang Zhiyun and Zhu Chunquan. 2011. [book review] (271-272)
Li Dezhi, Qin Aili

"Climate Change and Arctic Sustainable Development: Scientific, Social,
Cultural and Educational Challenges" by UNESCO. 2009. [book review]
Falk Huettmann

"Life of Earth - Portrait of a Beautiful, Middle-Aged, Stressed-Out World"
by Stanley A. Rice. 2011. [book review] (274-275)
Li Dezhi, Qin Aili

"5 Easy Pieces - The Impact of Fisheries on Marine Ecosystems" by D. Pauly.
2010. [book review] (275-277)
Falk Huettmann

"Wetlands of the Ontario Hudson Bay Lowland: A Regional Overview" by John L.
Riley. 2011. [book review] (277-279)
Paul M. Catling

"Wetlands of the Hudson Bay Lowlands - An Ontario Review" by John Riley.
2011. [book review] (279)
Roy John

New titles (280-281)
Roy John

News and Comment
Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles Annual
Symposium 2012; Dr. Kenneth William Stewart 1936-2011 (282)
Carolyn Callaghan

Club Reports
Minutes of the 132 nd  Annual Business Meeting of The Ottawa
Field-Naturalists’ Club January 18, 2011 (283-293)
Ann MacKenzie

Instructions for Authors (294-296)
Carolyn Callaghan

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another week, another CFN story in the news: orchids near trails

It's great to see Canadian Field-Naturalist articles in the news.  Two weeks ago we published volume 125 issue 2, and right away Tom Spears of the Ottawa Citizen published a news item on one of our articles: evidence that cougars live in Ontario.  The front-page story was picked up by news outlets across Canada.  It has even inspired readers to bring forward their own videos of suspected cougars.  Rick Rosatte, the author of the cougar study, deserves the attention his study has received.

Last week another news story featured a CFN article.  Once again it was published in the Ottawa Citizen by Tom Spears (it's great to see scientific journalism that is both accurate and interesting - good work Tom). The featured article is on orchids, and how hiking trails might benefit them.  Authors Paul Catling (an associate editor of CFN - one of those naturalists who knows everything about everything: dragonflies, ferns, butterflies, etc.) and Brenda Kostiuk describe the numbers and diversity of orchids found right next to trails versus farther away from trails.  They did this research at several parks across Canada.  Orchid numbers and diversity tended to be higher right next to trails than farther away from the perils of passing people.  Keeping nature pristine actually isn't all that natural - things like trampling, browsing, fires, etc. are natural events and many plants benefit from such disturbances.  I remember a Czech butterfly researcher at a conference two years ago presenting research about how the decline of military sites in his country were reducing butterfly numbers - tanks and bombs are very effective methods of creating habitat disturbance!  Way to go Paul & Brenda (and excellent coverage Tom)!

Ottawa Citizen article: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/When+lady+slipper+meets+hiking+boot/6355824/story.html.
The orchid CFN article: http://www.canadianfieldnaturalist.ca/index.php/cfn/article/view/1193

Friday, March 16, 2012

CFN site temporarily down (UPDATE: it's back up!)

The Canadian Field-Naturalist website has been was down this week due to technical problems.  I am working with the server and software people to fix it.  I apologize for this inconvenience.  This is especially bad timing considering The Ottawa Citizen just carried a front-page news article covering an article in our latest issue documenting evidence of cougars living in Ontario.

And here is a link to the cougar CFN article: http://www.canadianfieldnaturalist.ca/index.php/cfn/article/view/1194

Here is a link to the Ottawa Citizen article: http://digital.ottawacitizen.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

I apologize for this inconvenience.  Trust me - I find it much more frustrating than you (unless you too are losing sleep over it).
UPDATE: Our site was back up the day after I posted this.  And we have now posted vol 125 issue 2 - I'll blog about it shortly.  Thank you for your patience while our site was down.

Monday, January 9, 2012

If 40% of our visitors use Internet Explorer, maybe I should test our site with Internet Explorer

You know that feeling when you hear about a problem that you know is likely big and messy and a lot of work to fix?  On occasions like these, great people rise to the challenge to solve the problem right away.  These people often look good too, reliably send birthday cards to friends and family, and soothe crying babies with a mere wink.  Mere mortals like me instead ignore major problems hoping they will go away.  But they never go away.  And I never learn.  Even as I type this, only the bare minimum number of my brain's neurons are aware of what I'm typing while the rest are doing the neural equivalent of covering their eyes and singing loudly to themselves so they remain blissfully ignorant that their strategy of ignoring major problems is itself a major problem.

Several months ago my friend Sandy told me the current journal issue would not appear on the CFN homepage on her computer.  I checked the website on a bunch of computers, and the site worked fine.  But I knew there must be a problem because Sandy is tech-savvy.  In fact Sandy is the Webmaster for the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club, and she knows far more about servers, php, and other webstuff than me.  The problem was likely difficult to find and fix.  So I ignored it.

Over the holidays I replicated the problem on my in-laws' computer.  Then on another computer at my parents' place.  Not only was the main CFN home page not displaying the current issue automatically, but information in the "About the Journal" link was missing.  Uh oh.  I couldn't ignore this problem any longer.  What was common to these other people's computers that I couldn't replicate on my own or my colleagues' computers?  Internet Explorer.  I had never tested the CFN site with Internet Explorer.  I had used Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and a couple of mobile devices' browsers, but I had somehow neglected to test the site with the most common browser among CFN visitors (40% of CFN visitors use Internet Explorer according to Google Analytics).  I had pasted some information into the CFN site from Microsoft Word.  I now know, thanks to some help from the good people who developed our site's software, that this pasted not only the desired text into our website but also a lot of Microsoft junk code that messes with Internet Explorer browsers.  It was an easy fix once I figured out the problem - just delete the junk code - but it's embarassing to realize so many visitors were viewing a sub-optimal CFN site for so long because I hadn't tested it rigourously.  Lesson learned: no matter how much I dislike Internet Explorer, I must use it to test the CFN site.  Some (e.g., my wife) would say I should also learn to not ignore major problems.  To this my neurons close their eyes and shout "LA-LA-LA-LAAAAA."