Friday findings – volume 6

Trust me. I’m aware that it’s a Saturday. But I don’t care. Yesterday I wanted to write about my son’s special day. Today I want to share highlights of my week in ecology. It’s my blog – stop whining!

1) Accepted – An important paper got accepted this week. This paper is the first paper of two required published papers for the first PhD researcher I have (co-)supervised these past years in Freising. The paper will soon be available in Plant, Cell and Environment. Their second submitted manuscript also came back with very reasonable and doable revision work last week. This means that the project is really almost coming to a close. I’m super proud. To be honest I’m still on a high buzz from this news a couple of days later. The first paper of the first PhD is special. Yes!!

2) Plans – On Tuesday, I spent all day talking to students about their landscape planning projects. The idea is that using some ecological principles, they will critically improve their landscape plans for a focal species. It’s a fun project, with ideas ranging from somewhat bizarre to highly realistic. However, talking for about seven hours is a pretty exhausting thing, regardless of the topic.

3) Talk – I was invited for a talk in Würzburg this week. I wasn’t super happy about the talk. I gave similar talks before, and had a better feeling about it then. The work I presented – my artificial light work – is really a bit of a side project of mine, where I sometimes wish I would have more time to dive deeper. Unfortunately, I don’t, and so I don’t have all the answers. It was also the first present talk in three years. Weird. However, I also spoke to a number of group members all afternoon, and many of them had very aligning visions, which may lead to future collaborations. I don’t like talks (monologue), but love talking (dialogue). That was fun!

4) Label – On Thursday, we prepped our final prep for an experiment that will kick off on Monday. We have prepared this bastard for about three months, from tiny cuttings to the beefed-up plants they are now. Three weeks to go, and this experiment will come to an end. I can’t wait to celebrate the finish line for this one!

On a vaguely related note: our Freising tansy field experiment is about to flower. Time to schedule some pollinator observation assays! (Picture from this morning)

5) Roots – Last year, we ran a pretty huge greenhouse study, investigating the effects of certain pesticides on plant-insect performance, and the microbial community on the plant. While waiting for the characterization of the microbial community, the team worked tirelessly on separation of all plant material, to record seed numbers and biomass for all plants. This week, we received the first results of our bacterial communities and completed the plant data set. The data looked great. We discussed specific figures and statistical models. While waiting for the fungal results, we will finish the bacterial analysis. By the end of the year, we should have a complete picture. Exciting!

6) ALAN – While discussing the fungal microbiomes mentioned above, I arranged characterization of the microbiomes of my artificial light at night study. They’re scheduled for analysis in the fall, which is great news. These samples will help answer several important questions in how light pollution affects plant interactions with microbes. I’m having a very good feeling about this one.

That’s about it. I probably also drank some coffee here and there, but who cares.

Have a good weekend!

Published by Robin Heinen

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

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