Friday findings – volume 5

I had a jam-packed and almost overwhelming week in ecology this week. I sometimes feel like I’m doing too much and that I forget to breathe. Some of these things I can’t say no to as they are a non-negotiable part of the job description, and others I often don’t want to say no to. Here’s some highs and lows.

1) Reject and resubmit – this sounds more negative than it actually is. Reject and resubmit is almost like the new major revisions. In this case it’s a paper written under my supervision, and I was already very happy with it. It seems that the reviewers are reasonable and manageable. We should get this accepted I think.

2) Sea of butterflies – on Tuesday I took about fifty students to a nature conservation area called Freisinger buckl. It’s a small peatland, with some areas where the former Isar riverbed lays bare. Two very different vegetation types arose here, and it’s one of my favorite areas for butterflies. Not only does it support several rare species, it also supports thousands of common butterflies, and it’s just a fantastic sight. The most important goal on Tuesday was to inspire a love for nature and insects in particular in my landscape planner students. I hope it worked.

I assumed it was the silver washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia)
Some zygaenid caterpillar
Lots of peacocks (Inachis io) and a map butterfly (Araschnia levana)
A great place

3) Dummy – I analyzed the first round of dummy caterpillars I placed in my tansy chemodiversity field experiment here in Freising. My colleague Sarah did an exceptional job preparing all of it, and for this reason I’m extra happy that our first round has yielded excellent results that confirm my hypothesis. I’m now extra curious to collect the next three rounds.

4) Team struggles – Several members of the team fell sick this week. Unfortunately this happened in quite a crucial time point, in the middle of field season and my most busy teaching time. You can’t control these things, obviously, and we can only adapt. Because of this, we have a bit of a rough patch, but team spirit still feels high. I’ll jump in next week to help out with some greenhouse work for our upcoming above-belowground and predator-prey experiments. We hope to start our treatments there in the coming weeks.

5) TOEK talk – I was up for this week’s department talk. I presented a cool study I’m involved in – but didn’t lead – and that’s currently under review. It felt weird to present something that I didn’t lead myself. That never happened before. I suppose that will get more common in leadership positions, but I’m not used to it. The discussion was quite fun, so it seems that the study was a good pick for this audience.

6) Bacterial stuff – We finally got our bacterial sequencing information back from our fungicide side effect experiment. Our plant data look great, and the bacteria were the first step to determine quality of DNA extraction, as well as effects of treatments, and we will now continue soon with the fungal sequencing. That will be more interesting and I would expect stronger effects of the treatments. Nonetheless, it’s a major step towards assembly of the final data set for this experiment of last summer. Exciting.

That’ll be all for now. Time to celebrate the weekend!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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