Friday, January 28, 2011

Whisky Rescue

A wintery Mont St Hilaire is the location for the second Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science (QCBS) workshop, this one on eco-evolutionary dynamics. A diverse group of ecologists and evolutionary biologists from south and north of the border met to argue and debate the new synthesis; when is it important, why is it important, how often? they cried. The ideas flowed almost as freely as the whisky, but by day 2 a new framework was emerging. Experiments for new data, analysis for new insights, and a synthesis to end all syntheses. One synthesis to rule them all!!!

An iconic example of eco-evolutionary dynamics is evolutionary rescue, the poorly understood means by which evolution can propel a population away from extinction. Few have considered the ecological consequences of evolutionary rescue, and fewer still, the community context in which these dynamics play out. The group will explore beyond genetic variation to also consider plasticity, niche construction, and evolutionary history. A new experimental model (marmite to the rescue) will be brought to bare (!) on the problem, and new theory to pierce the confusion.

By now the whisky fumes have penetrated the deeper parts of our muddled brains and we are staggering to the early hours of the late evening...Vellend aghast at East coast arrogance, Beisner aghast at the size of her glass, Yale obsessed with Bieber, Perry and Alewives...and a brand new H-index (how many degrees of separatation from Hutchinson)

Got to go, my whisky is getting lonely and my snowballs are getting cold. Andy Gonzalez signing off

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