Front Cover start to 2019

A very Happy New Year to all visitors from everyone in the Insect Behavioural Ecology Lab.

While one cannot deny that 2019 may prove to be a challenging year in all sorts of ways, we will try to keep on studying insects and the evolution of their wonderful behaviours as best we can.

As a fantastic start to the year, here is the lovely front-cover to the latest virtual issue of Ecology and Evolution, starring Vicki’s picture of our pale mutant Lygaeus simulans. Perhaps by the end of the year, we will know a little more about this phenotype and its underlying genetics – have we found a supergene or not?! We’ll keep you posted.

More good paper news

Congratulations to Becky who has just got her latest (and sadly, probably last) empirical paper out of her PhD accepted for publication in Behavioral Ecology. Becky’s paper – which includes Ginny and Nicki as co-authors – explores how sex allocation influences the benefits of polyandry in female Nasonia wasps. All told, Becky’s collection of papers on the evolution of polyandry in this mostly-monandrous wasps is a tour de force! Nice one.

Will keep you posted on news of the paper out in print.

Can scientists speak freely? Well, apparently not

Here is a recent blog-post from St A colleague and Chief Science Advisor for DEFRA Professor Ian Boyd (DEFRA is the UK’s environment and agriculture governmental department).

Can government scientists speak freely?

The post is the text of a speech given to the Science Media Centre at the end of last month. I’m afraid I find it rather chilling. In particular, I am aghast at the “we must not be naughty schoolboys” tone of the last paragraph, reproduced below.

“Overall, government institutions find a good balance between supporting scientists’ freedom to speak, if they want to, and holding them to account if they break the rules of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. I am impressed by the way in which government scientists in the UK listen to advice, intelligently assess the risks and the moral arguments and come to their own decisions about how to behave.”

[Shakes head…] Freedom to speak, if we want to…?

Oh dear.

Never happier

A happy Dave, watching flies (Philornis). In George Heimpel’s lab back in August – thanks for the picture George!

If you like watching flies, or other insects, drop me a line about research opportunities.

Aubrey Manning

It is with great sadness that I share the news that our friend and inspiration Aubrey Manning passed away last week. Aubrey was a wonderful, infectiously enthusiastic biologist, who made important contributions to the study of animal behaviour, and to the growth of the animal behaviour community more generally. But he was also so much more than that. It was a great pleasure to spend time with him whilst in Edinburgh (and I also loved Earth Story!). He will be much missed, but I can only remember him with a smile.

There are a number of obituaries and loving posts about him, but I will just steal this picture from Jamie Grant and his article about Aubrey for the Scottish Wildlife Trust a few years back – Aubrey laughing – of course!