A new blog is born. What the!? Its slimy!

Welcome to my blog MetaEvoPhyloEcoOmics, or MEPHEO for short. I debated long and circularly about whether I would make my first post an introduction – like this one – or just dive right in with a regular post. I decided to do this to introduce some of the features I'd like to have on this blog, and therefore light a proverbial fire (using proverbial hypertext matches of course) under myself to get some posts actually written. The main purpose of this blog will be to talk about issues in the science of ecology, and science more generally, and to form part of an open lab notebook for my research (along with GitHub, Figshare, etc.).

I am an ecologist, currently working for CSIRO as a post-doc, in Perth, Western Australia. All the opinions I express here are of course my own (yay! now this blog is in compliance with my company's social media policy!). There is more info about me available on the [main website](http://mepheoscience.com), should you be interested.

I have two regular features planned for this blog that will be interspersed with ecology and science posts, and one experiment I'd like to try.

Regular Features

  • Wednesday links, with commentary! This is a common thing to be found on blogs, and this one is no exception. Friday is often the day these link dumps occur, but I am going to do mine on Wednesdays (yes that means tomorrow is the first one!). It is hump day and so this is the day I most need to take a break from work and prepare my mind for the next half of the week. What am I going to call it? Well, "Wednesday Hyperlinks Of My Preference", a not-at-all awkward phrase whose acronym happens to be WHOMP! So from now on hump day is whomp day here at Mepheo.
  • A weekly or bi-weekly feature called "Photography with a Relatively Inexpensive Camera". One of my hobbies is capturing images of natural history and other interesting science things, but I have not yet succumbed to the siren call of an expensive DSLR (or is that the hum of the auto-focus?). I do have a water-proof and shock-proof point and shoot camera, with which I do the best I can. It has a macro mode, which is good enough for me. To make up for low image quality, I try and do some more interesting things with the photos, including post processing. By the way, in case you were wondering, though I myself don't care for them, the acronym for this feature is PHWARIC (which I assume is pronounced "fwaaaaaaaa!... rick"). Some of these photos may have been taken by my wife as well. Any image that appears on this website will either be produced by me, or have full attribution to the creator whenever possible. If you ever notice me slip in this regard, please do call me on it.

Experimental Feature

Much of what I do as an scientist is to analyze data, usually collected by other people. That's right, I am a data parasite (the first step is admitting you are a parasite). But haven't you always wanted to know how parasites make their living? To experience it from their perspective as they wriggle and squirm their way through oozing piles of other people's data? Well, now you can find out. The idea is that I am going to go through the process of taking several public datasets, analyzing them (with R and GitHub), and hopefully turning that into a (open access) paper down the line. I will post every step along the way here, and invite comments from the online community. I am looking for this to be a kind of crowd-sourced online collaboration (complete with coauthorship), with whoever wants to chime in. Hopefully I can get enough people interested! Even preliminary analysis will be public, so it is entirely possible the project will fizzle before it even gets started if the dataset is not up to the challenge. We will all see together.

I will advertise this again once I have decided on a dataset and a problem to work on. It will almost certainly involve phylogenies and probably GBIF data! I would of course welcome any suggestions for cool datasets and questions to ask on here. If anyone is reading this and likes the idea, or knows of someone who has already done something like this, please leave a comment, or tweet at me (@ecologician).

I will leave you with a natural history animated gif, of a nest of bees my wife and I discovered while hiking on an offshore island near Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. It may take a few minutes to load. Taken with my relatively inexpensive camera.

Acronyms used in this post:

  • MEPHEO - MetaEvoPhyloEcoOmics
  • CSIRO - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
  • WHOMP - Wednesday Hyperlinks Of My Preference
  • PHWARIC - Photography With A Relatively Inexpensive Camera
  • TBDLLB -The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog