Conversation Ecology

topical conversation on tropical conservation (and other stuff)

Evidence of agarwood poaching discovered on lab hike

Pile of agarwood (Aquilaria sinensis) discovered on Lamma Island.

Every year my lab gets together for an evening of reflection and rejoicing. Students and staff of the Global Change and Tropical Conservation group come to my home on Lamma Island for food and drink. As part of this annual tradition we also take a short hike and take the lab photo (here’s this year’s […]

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What determines urban butterfly community structure in Kowloon? 甚麼因素決定九龍不同公園的蝴蝶群聚結構?

Papilio memnon observed in a Hong Kong urban park.

One of my very first impressions of Hong Kong was the huge and gorgeous Papilio butterflies flying through Chater Garden as I found myself trying to find the train to get back to my hotel in Sheung Wan. How impressive that such large insects might be able to persist in such a small urban green […]

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Anxious in Academia

An anxious academic does some last minute preparation for his PhD defense.

Over at Dynamic Ecology Meghan Duffy just posed about “Life as an anxious scientist”: No sense trying to redo this excellent treatment on a very important subject. But it reminded me of one particular story which I felt was worthy of relaying as a means of echoing the point that “if you are struggling with […]

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Personal Reflection: Ilkka Hanski and Metapopulation Ecology

Melitaea cinxia (photo by Gilles San Martin)

We learned this week of Ilkka Hanski’s untimely passing. I did not know him well personally having only met him once (see below). But his work was a major influence in my career (and for MANY ecologists) and I’ve been reflecting a great deal on my own past since hearing the news. In my final […]

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Hong Kong’s BSAP


Below is a letter which I’ve submitted to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department regarding Hong Kong’s strategy for conserving biodiversity as a comment on the BSAP Public Consultation Document. Biodiversity Conservation Division Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department 6th Floor, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong Dear All, Hong […]

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Songs (and Papers) in the Key of Life


During our departmental holiday party last week I got into a discussion with my colleagues Benoit Guénard and David Dudgeon about our top three albums of all time. We spent some time discussing the criteria for determining our top three albums (e.g. the “desert island” criteria) but didn’t really come to a consensus. In any case […]

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Monkey Bridges in Borneo


As the boat turned down a small tributary of the Kinabatangan River (Sabah, Borneo) our guide pointed out a Wrinkled Hornbill just within binocular identifiable distance. This was the fifth hornbill species in two days! But of course, Borneo is not known around the world for its hornbill diversity. It’s the orangutan who gets all […]

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Cherishing and Protecting Academic Freedom


One of the most common questions I get from folks back in my homeland (US) when I tell them I live in Hong Kong is “so you can’t access Facebook?!” Yes, I can access Facebook. Because I live in Hong Kong. In mainland China, indeed, you cannot access Facebook but fortunately (?) I can here […]

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Hunting Black Rhinos for Conservation


A recent Radiolab story has highlighted the complexities surrounding the use of trophy hunting for conservation purposes. Indeed, this is a complex issue with strong opinions around both the conservation and animal welfare debates that lie at the center of the trophy hunting discussion. After finishing the podcast I felt a deep sense of frustration. Not because […]

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Climate Change and Extinction Risk


A new paper out in Science this month (Accelerating extinction risk from climate change) reports that climate change could threaten “up to one in six species” globally. This one in six species phrase was picked up swiftly by the media: One in six of world’s species faces extinction due to climate change or Climate change risk […]

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