Teaching ourselves creativity

Photo by Tim K. Hamilton [flickr] under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Photo by Tim K. Hamilton [flickr] under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Are some people born creative, and others born to be dull? Do we need creativity to solve the grand challenges facing the world today, whether in science or society more broadly? In a paper that just became available online in Conservation Biology (Online Early), we argue emphatically No to the first question, and Yes to the second if we are to provide clean air, clean water, and abundant wildlife for generations to come. Creativity provides the raw material we need to solve some of the toughest conservation challenges, and yet we rarely think about how we can increase our individual and collective creativity. There’s a surprising amount we can do, in fact, from intentionally surrounding ourselves with unfamiliar concepts, to making time for reflection, and embracing risk responsibly. Once you’ve read the article… get outside and take a walk to let it sink in!

Postdoctoral position in quantitative climate ecology

We are seeking an outstanding postdoc to study the responses of marine communities to climate change and climate velocity using long-term ecological and environmental datasets. The research will aim to quantify community change across North American continental shelves, determine the impacts of climate change and variability on these patterns, and understand how these factors alter the emergent properties of communities and food webs. Topics will include the processes of community assembly and disassembly, the appearance of non-analog communities, and changes in potential species interactions and food web dynamics. The research will build from an existing, four decade-long ecological dataset for the continental shelves of North America (e.g., Pinsky et al. 2013 Science) and will integrate statistical analysis with ecological modeling. There will also be opportunities to apply the research to conservation and applied fisheries questions through existing partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The ideal candidate will have a Ph.D. in ecology or related field, a strong background in statistics using R, excellent written and oral communication abilities, a promising record of publication, and evidence of creativity and enthusiasm.

**Application process**
Interested candidates should send an email describing their research interests and qualifications along with a CV and two representative publications to malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu. Strongly qualified applications will be encouraged to apply for the IMCS Postdoctoral Fellowship, due December 15, 2013 (http://marine.rutgers.edu/main/).

Overfished species have lower genetic diversity

Photo by Winky (Flickr)
Photo by Winky (Flickr)

Genetic diversity is the raw material for evolution, and it allows species to adapt to changing environmental conditions. But can fisheries cause species to lose genetic diversity? In our meta-analysis just out this week in Molecular Ecology (OnlineEarly), we find strong evidence that the answer is yes. Previously, studies on individual populations have had somewhat ambiguous results: some studies found an effect, others did not. Our finding provides more evidence that the evolutionary impacts of overharvest are important for fisheries management, and may explain why some heavily overfished populations (e.g., Newfoundland cod) have had such a hard time recovering.

New paper in Science shows that marine species follow climate velocity

Cod photo by Joachim S. Müller.
Photo by Joachim S. Müller.

As ocean temperatures change, fish that provide food for people around the world are moving into new territories. While it’s been common to talk about broad expectations like species shifting towards the poles as the climate warms, the problem has been that many species are not shifting towards the poles, and even of those species that are, some are shifting quickly and others slowly. In a paper out today in Science, we show that  the trick to more precise forecasts is to follow local temperature changes, expressed as climate velocities.

Photo by Cliff on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/people/nostri-imago/)
Photo by Cliff on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/people/nostri-imago/)

Climate velocities are the rate and direction that temperatures move across the seascape. The findings suggest that climate velocity will be a powerful tool for forecasting future range shifts and have implications for marine conservation and fisheries management. Transient populations are especially vulnerable to overexploitation.

Press coverage includes BBC Radio, LA Times, CBC, ScienceNow, ClimateWire, the Southern Fried Science blog, and EuropaPress. Princeton also has a blog post.




As one example, lobster in the northeastern United States (above) moved north at a pace of 43 miles per decade. (Video by Leah Lewis and D. Richardson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

We’re looking for a lab tech!

Laboratory Researcher IV, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

The Pinsky Lab in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural
Resources is searching for an organized, enthusiastic, and skilled
individual to work as a population genomics technician in our new
research lab. We use population genetics and genomics to study the
ecology, evolution, and conservation of marine species around the

The technician will assist the PI in managing the lab and conducting
research. Specific duties will include ordering and maintaining
equipment and supplies, processing genetic samples, preparing DNA and
RNA libraries for genotyping and next-generation sequencing,
performing basic data analysis, training students, and maintaining an
organized, safe, and productive laboratory environment. We offer an
exciting and interdisciplinary work environment, opportunities to be
involved in a wide range of ecological and evolutionary projects, and
the potential for co-authorship on scientific manuscripts.

Minimum Qualifications
– A bachelor’s degree in a related scientific field or an equivalent
combination of education and relevant experience in population
genetics, molecular biology, or molecular ecology
– Experience preparing reagents/buffers, gel electrophoresis, and PCR
– Exceptional organizational skills and strong ability to accomplish
tasks independently
– Ability to master detailed laboratory procedures
– Excellent communication and computer skills
– The ability to lift at least thirty pounds

Preferred Qualifications
– Previous experience working in a lab performing next-generation
sequencing, particularly on the Illumina platform
– Familiarity with scientific computing languages such as R, MATLAB,
Python, or Perl
– Knowledge of marine biology or ecology
– Master’s degree in a related scientific field will be
viewed positively

To apply, please visit the Rutgers University Jobs website
http://uhrapps.rutgers.edu/jobs/ and search for Posting #13-002239.
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and names and contact
information for three (3) references. Please  highlight your previous
experience in the laboratory. Applications are due by September 18.
Interviews will occur in late September, and the position will ideally
begin in October.

This is a full-time position, initially appointed for a period of 12
months at a yearly salary of $39,229 – $44,000 (depending on
qualifications), plus benefits. The position can be extended for at
least one year depending on performance.

More information about the Pinsky lab can be found at
http://pinsky.marine.rutgers.edu. Please contact Malin Pinsky
(malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu) if you have any questions.

Notes from the field 2013: Leyte, Philippines

Punta Lauis, Bay Bay, Leyte
Punta Lauis, Bay Bay, Leyte
15 days on the ground, 35 dives, and a very productive field season to understand metapopulation dynamics in clownfish (specifically Amphiprion clarkii). This is a multi-year project using genetic parentage methods to identify parents and offspring on the reef. See here for a few photos! Thanks to the the Marine Lab at Visayas State University for hosting us.

The human face of climate change

Nature Climate Change ran a feature story on Mike Fogarty and Malin’s earlier paper in Climatic Change Letters. To quote the story: “Adaptation to climate change in fisheries is occurring very rapidly. Research now shows that it is a complex process whose outcomes can both mitigate and exacerbate impacts on fish populations.” How people respond and the coping responses they use are an important part of the story.

Study highlights how fisheries are likely to respond to climate change

Mean latitude of four fisheries in the Northeast U.S.
Mean latitude of four fisheries in the Northeast U.S.
It is increasingly clear that marine fish are shifting and will continue to shift poleward as climates warm. However, what these shifts mean for fisheries has long been less clear. In a new paper in Climatic Change, Mike Fogarty and Malin show how fisheries and the value of their landed catch are also moving poleward (see graph on right for four species in the northeast U.S.). These shifts push some species out of reach for coastal communities, but also provide new opportunities. This kind of information can inform decisions about how to adapt to climate change, but such adaptations take time and have costs. Local knowledge and equipment, for example, are geared to the species that have long been present in the area.