Sunday, December 8, 2013

Local-scale, continental-scale, what's in between? The regional scale of course!

In my new paper published in Ecological Applications (, my co-authors and I explored the important role of the regional spatial scale for understanding and managing lakes.

We found that the region that a lake is in really matters to its chemistry and nutrient levels. In other words, lakes that are closer together have more similar levels than lakes that are farther away. We actually quantified this pattern of different lake chemistry and nutrient levels depending on the region a lake is in, and showed how this approach could be used for studying other ecosystems.  We also studied the factors that make regions different from each other, such as the amount of forest land, agricultural land, and groundwater contribution, as well as the type of geology present.

Lots of research is conducted at the local-scale, such as within a lake, lake network, or ecological region (also called an ecoregion). On the other end of the spectrum, there is research being conducted at the continental and global scales. However, less research has been done on the intermediate, regional scale. One way that both terrestrial and aquatic scientists and managers have included the regional scale in their work is by grouping ecosystems within a 'regionalization framework' that is created by dividing a continent into contiguous, often hierarchical, discrete spatial units of similar landscape features that are sometimes called ecoregions or regions. However, there are many different regionalization frameworks to choose from, and none of these frameworks were created specifically to capture among-lake variation, which was the focus of our study. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dr. Reimer is in the news!

My sponsor here at QUB, Dr. Paula Reimer, is in this news this week. You can read about her new carbon dating breakthrough reported by the BBC news on Dec 3, 2013 here: Neat stuff!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Speaking at Trinity College, Dublin (ROI)

I was invited to give a talk as part of the Department of Zoology Seminar Series at Trinity College Dubin ( at the end of November. I took an ~2 hour commuter train ride from Belfast to Dublin, then went just 2 stops on the DART train (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) and found myself at the edge of the Trinity campus. I met with lots of brilliant students (undergraduate and graduate) and faculty (postdocs and professors) in the Department, and found them to be a very friendly group.  My lunch with graduate students in the Dept was especially nice - they seemed to be a very cohesive, fun, and productive group.

My talk was in a lecture hall in the Botany Building. In fact, it was in the lecture hall that was featured in the 1980's film "Educating Rita" ( Here I am impersonating Michael Caine in that film!

My talk, titled "Understanding multi-scaled relationships between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems," was well-attended and well-received by a mixture of students and staff. I had a lot of interesting questions after the talk. Then, we went back to the Zoology Dept for an informal social that was attended by undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and professors. Discussions during this social were really great. I was especially impressed with the quality of the TCD Zoology undergrads.  

Here are two of the scholars I had conversations with and who could be future collaborators: Drs. Ian Donohue and Andrew Jackson ( I will likely return to Trinity this winter to meet with them again.  

Special thanks to Drs. Katherine Webster and Natalie Cooper for hosting me and helping with my 
travel arrangements.

UPDATE: Here's the Trinity EcoEvo blog post about my talk.