Saturday, December 23, 2006


So, I have actually been working lately, just not writing in my blog about it much. Mostly I have been revising a paper about the subterranean ant probe, and spending a lot of time trying to understand statistics. So I have been reading a lot about species accumulation curves, analyses of similarity (ANOSIM -- provides a way to test statistically whether there is a significant difference between two or more groups of sampling units), similarity indices, estimated similarity indices, etc. etc. Here are a few tips I have learned: If you want to do ANOSIM, and have no money to buy the PRIMER software package, try the PAST software package, which is free, and easy to understand. If you want to do estimated similarity, and you have incidence (as opposed to abundance) data, the EstimateS software package is really confusing. Instead, I suggest using the SPADE software package, which can be found at Anne Chao's website. EstimateS is still the best way to produce accumulation curves.

Here are some sites I found helpful in figuring this stuff out:

An Annotated Bibliography of Similarity Indices in Ecology
Try this forum discussion for ideas about which analyses to use in which situations:
Software links:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Temple Grandin video on Google

Okay, this has nothing to do with ants but I read Temple Grandin's book Animals in Translation a few months ago and was blown away by it. Temple Grandin is an author and animal science expert who is also autistic and her book describes the relationship she sees between how animals think and react to the world as similar to how people with autism think and react to the world. Absolutely fascinating reading. Today I found out (via BoingBoing) that the full length BBC documentary about her is available free on Google video. Go watch it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Insect Lab artwork

Okay, no ants, but this is pretty sweet. Cybernetic insect art. Real insects, real little gears, real art. Link to Mike Libby's Insect Lab

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates project at Towson

If there are any undergraduates out there reading my blog, John LaPolla at Towson University has a Research Experience for Undergraduate program opportunity available. Looks like a great opportunity.

The REU program in Molecular Ecology brings 6 highly qualified undergraduate students to Towson University in alternate years to engage in state-of-the art research integrating the fields of ecology and molecular biology. Successful applicants will work in one of three lab groups, consisting of students with interest in ecology, molecular biology/genetics, or both, and a pair of faculty mentors. Each group will use molecular approaches to address ecological questions pertaining to the biology of plants and animals. Students will live in Towson University residence halls and receive financial support in the form of a stipend, funds for housing, a basic meal plan and travel. The program is 10 weeks long with the option for a second summer of support. Students will participate in a class designed to prepare them for the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). In addition, all participants are expected to publish the results of their studies. Students with limited opportunities at their home institution or from groups under-represented in science are especially encouraged to apply. More information is available by contacting Don C. Forester at

There are three projects available, one of them on ants:

(1) DNA Barcoding and the Future of Life on Earth: A Case Study of Pheidole Ants John S. LaPolla, Ph.D. and Colleen S. Sinclair, Ph.D.

(2) Dissection of a symbiosis: Understanding carbon flow through wood-eating
fishes Jay A. Nelson, Ph.D. and Joy E.M. Watts, Ph.D.

(3) Do Peccaries Structure the genetic Diversity of Frogs in the Amazon?
Harald Beck, Ph.D and Gail Gasparich, Ph.D.