What we're reading: Genomics for conservation, SNPs versus microsats, and imbalance in the peer-review ecosystem

In the journals
Harrisson K.A., A. Pavlova, M. Telonis-Scott and P. Sunnucks. 2014. Using genomics to characterize evolutionary potential for conservation of wild populations. Evolutionary Applications. doi: 10.1111/eva.12149.

… screening genome-wide variation should be a sensible approach that may provide a generalized measure of evolutionary potential that accounts for the contributions of small-effect loci and cryptic variation and is robust to uncertainty about future change and required adaptive response(s).

Lozier J.D. 2014. Revisiting comparisons of genetic diversity in stable and declining species: assessing genome-wide polymorphism in North American bumble bees using RAD sequencing. Molecular Ecology. 23:788–801. doi: 10.1111/mec.12636.

Previous microsatellite-based analyses have shown that gene diversity is lower in the declining [Bombus] pensylvanicus than in B. impatiens. RADseq nucleotide diversities appear much more similar in the two species.

Petchey O.L., J.W. Fox, L. Haddon. 2014. Imbalance in individual researcher’s peer review activities quantified for four British Ecological Society journals, 2003-2010. PLoS ONE 9: e92896. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092896. (See also discussion by author Jeremy Fox at Dynamic Ecology)

The majority of researchers (64%) did not have balanced contributions and withdrawals. Depending on assumptions, 12% to 44% contributed more than twice as much as required; 20% to 52% contributed less than half as much as required.

In the news
“In the face of climate change, scientists like [Ruth] Shaw have begun to measure how effective evolution might be as a survival strategy.”
“Observers lauded [David] Wright’s appointment in December 2011 … But on 25 February, he fired off a fiery resignation letter to his boss (see below), HHS Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) Howard Koh.”
“But after a few years … you are given the chance to reflect and summarize, even rewrite your own narrative. You’ve identified collaborators and programs that make your collective program greater than the sum of its parts.”
“But just as the spherical cow is logically rigorous but of limited empirical insight, so the relentless tautologies of adaptationism leave us in the dark as to how human cultural and social diversity came about.”
“The problem is that most people don’t know what ‘the flu’ is, and relying on Google searches by people who may be utterly ignorant about the flu does not produce useful information.”
“So upon their predictable failure (in the free national labor market!) to turn up a qualified candidate, they wound up with a man whose views on issues relevant to the course are not only outside the scientific mainstream, but are demonstrably, factually incorrect and who likely has in the past abused such a position to advance his agenda.”

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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