Earlier today I reflected on my start as a Blogger™ over on Twitter, which is basically where I blog now (hashtag blogging is dead or something). Stephen Heard (who has his own blog) suggested I post it here too, and I figured for old time sake (and so I don’t forget my login information) that that sounded like a great idea.
Today marks the 7th anniversary of the greatest career decision I've made: I hit "Publish" for the first time on my blog.
As you may have noticed, it’s been fairly quiet ’round these parts the last few months. I’m not sure there’s one particular reason why I’ve let my blogging fall off, but rather a compilation of factors, like doing a PhD (and a number of side-projects…), the ease of sharing brief thoughts on Twitter, and the “P” word: Procrastination.
That’s not to say that I’ve disappeared from the online ecosystem, it’s just that there’s been a shift in the content I’m creating and where I share it. Breaking Bio (the podcast I co-host with a great group of other biologists) is going strong and we’re coming up on our 100th episode, and like I mentioned, I’m finding Twitter an easier way of sharing ideas, opinions, jokes & research news than writing several hundred words here. Of course I’m also playing around with Tumblr and Instagram, and have a bunch of ideas for additional projects if I can make/find the time for them. I was even invited to give a plenary address last month regarding the stuff I do online, which was awesome & humbling, but which also served to illustrate how much I’ve let my blog slide of late.
So while I can’t promise that my posting schedule will pick up anytime soon here, I still consider this blog as my home base online, and the place I go to when I really want to delve into a topic. I’ve always found a warm & receptive audience from you, my readers, and have always appreciated having my ideas challenged or bounced around by everyone who takes the time to read what I write. The support I’ve received online has been incredibly important to me, and I want to thank each and every person who has read, commented or shared something I’ve written here.
But now I have an opportunity to learn a little more about you, and it’s even going to count as SCIENCE! Dr. Paige Brown Jarreau is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Louisiana State University who is interested in the science blogging community. She has previously studied and surveyed the motives of the people who write science blogs, but now she’s interested in finding out who is reading science blogs, which means she wants to hear from you!
So I’ve teamed up with Paige to create a survey of you, the readers of Biodiversity in Focus (and associated products). By participating, you’ll be helping me improve my blog and contributing to SCIENCE on blog readership. You will also get FREE science art from Paige’s Photography for participating, as well as a chance to win a t-shirt and other perks! It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/mysciblogreaders. Paige also successfully raised some money with a crowd-funding campaign in order to provide perks for those that take the time to fill out her survey, so if you help her (and me) by filling out the survey at http://bit.ly/mysciblogreaders by October 30, you’ll be entered to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card (100 available to be won across all surveyed blogs)! It’s a Win-Win-Win: Paige gets data to help her research, I get to learn a little more about who you are & why you read this blog (and presumably others), and you have a chance at winning some money (plus the guaranteed feeling of personal satisfaction for making those first two Wins possible)!
I love me a good nomenclatural etymology dissection, and this one by Heather Proctor at her new blog The Inquisitive Anystid about the story behind Odocoileus (the genus that includes white-tailed and mule deer) is a great one.
Some how it’s already December 31st, which besides being terrifying that another year has come and gone, also makes it time for a look back at the year that was — because honestly I feel like I blinked and missed it all!
2012 was a crazy year for me. Between finishing up the field guide, developing & teaching my first college-level course, starting my PhD and travelling to several meetings and workshops across North America, I saw and did a lot of new stuff that I’m grateful to have been able to do, and feel like the year was a pretty productive one overall (although I failed to get a few papers out that I had hoped to and which continue to hang over my head…).
Here at the blog I found myself battling periods of writing cramps and unwanted mental vacations, but still managed to come up with 79 posts (including this one). As for readers and visitors, 2012 was a banner year for my blog, with more then 25,000 people from 160 countries & territories stopping by to read articles or look at photos. In case you’re interested, my most read posts this year were:
I tried out some new ideas this year, stirred a few pots, and feel like I’ve made some pretty decent advances with my writing overall. No complaints there!
The one area that I feel like I failed at in 2012 is taking the time to pick up my camera! I only kept 1350 photos this year, and a large proportion of those don’t meet my standards for sharing here, or are of family. The number of bug photos I took would have been much lower had I not been at BugShot, which gave me a big kick in the pants to get out there and enjoy some free time. While I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked, I did come away with some that I’m quite happy with. Some of these I’ve previously blogged, but most of these have been locked away in my hard drive until now, so enjoy!
Favourite Photo of the Year
Phymatid waiting for dinner – Archbold, Florida
Favourite Fly Photo of the Year
Laphria index (Asilidae) – Guelph, Ontario
Favourite Photo of a Newborn Fly
Triumphant Eurosta solidaginis fruit fly (Tephritidae) – Guelph, Ontario
Favourite Photo of a Fly Annoyed by my Presence
What are you lookin’ at? Euaresta festiva fruit fly (Tephritidae) – St. Catharines, Ontario
Favourite Bug Porn Photo
Euschistus servus stink bugs (Pentatomidae) having a good time – Norfolk County, Ontario
Favourite White Box Photo
Conura sp. (Chalcididae) – Guelph, Ontario
Favourite Photo Using Techniques Learned from another Bug Blogger
I ended up with SO MUCH SAND DOWN MY PANTS after using Ted MacRae’s patented Tiger Beetle Stalking Crawl… Cicindela scutellaris – Norfolk County, Ontario
Favourite Photo of a Bug Blogger Caught Posting to Twitter
Hahahaha 😀 – The Bug Geek – Knoxville, Tennessee
Favourite Photo of a Parasite Freshly Excavated from a Lab Mate’s Foot
Chigoe Flea (Tunga penetrans) female – Guelph, Ontario (originally “collected” in Guyana). Look for a full write up and photo essay about this creepy insect soon (I promise).
Favourite Landscape Photo
Fireflies under fiery skies in my parent’s back yard – Camlachie, Ontario
Favourite Photo of an Insect Sitting on Santa’s Lap
All I want for Christmas are my 2 front wings! Manduca sp. (labelled Tomato Hornworm at the pet shop) posing with Santa – Guelph, Ontario
Favourite Photo that Keeps Me Taking Photos Because I Just. Barely. MISSED IT!!
The one that got away — from me at least, I’m pretty sure that wasp is doomed. If only I had focused a few millimeters closer to me… Sigh
Favourite Photo of My Wife, Who Makes it All Worthwhile
My wife Renee and I enjoying a short vacation at the cottage. A good reminder that there’s more to life than work and to take some time to relax with the people you love.
Perhaps I should have named this The Biweekly Flypaper since it seems summer activities are conspiring against me, but hopefully I can get back on track soon.
(Inter)National Moth Week (NMW)
I don’t know if you noticed, but the Bug-osphere took (Inter)National Moth Week by storm and scaled new heights with their mothy contributions! Here’s but a sampling of the moth-related postings from my fellow bug bloggers.
This week should be pretty fun, and I’m going to try and get out at least one night to see if I can’t add to my abysmally poor list of moth photographs, and will try and tweet any encounters I have with moths throughout the week. I’ll also be contributing any new sightings to Project Noah and iNaturalist, so feel free to follow along with me there.
I’ve successfully ignored the Lepidoptera thus far in my entomological career, so I’m taking this opportunity to do a little learning and see if I can’t improve on my moth ID skills. I’m going to be posting photos of moths throughout the week, some from North America which I’ve been able to identify, and some from my tropical travels which I have no idea about. If you notice that I messed up an identification, please feel free to gloat and mock my error; perhaps it’ll teach me not to ignore an entire order of insects from now on…
Oh, and because I can’t completely turn my blog over to moths, I’m going to be featuring their dipteran parasites whenever possible, so expect plenty of tachinid talk this week too!
The spring edition of Fly Times, the biannual newsletter for the North American Dipterists Society, is out and absolutely full of interesting information. Everything from cheap ideas for high-quality specimen photography to research updates, and even a technique for reconstituting eye colour patterns in dead & dried flies! I look forward to this newsletter every spring and fall, and my only disappointment with this edition is I have to wait another 6 months until the next!
The entomologists I know, including me of course, aren’t exactly the most fashion-conscious people out there (seriously, it can be pretty bad). But even I think these insect-repellent high fashions are attractive, especially as a great way to raise awareness about malaria!
What’s upside down and fuzzy all over? This great photo of a bee fly by Ted MacRae! Also cool, the photo was identified by bee fly aficionado and recent University of Guelph PhD graduate Joel Kits. I <3 the internet for cool connections like this!
I come across a large number of interesting blog posts, news articles, scientific papers and various other types of media every week, which I try and share through Twitter on a regular basis. Since I know not everyone has been bitten by the Twitter bug yet1, I figured I’d start a weekly round up of links to some of the stories I find interesting, important or just plain entertaining.
True to form, most of these links will be insect related, but I have broad interests, so some other topics are sure to turn up from time to time2. The internet is full of talented people, and I hope you enjoy their work as much as I have.
In the past few months, the topic of scientists taking to the netwaves to broadcast their ideas, opinions and research has been a popular topic. Here’s a list of some of the different discussions that I’ve found regarding scientists participating in social media.
It’s not just science bloggers expounding the need for researchers to take to social media, with two short opinion/editorial pieces recently published in Nature highlighting social media’s role in scientific discourse.
At the recent Entomological Society of America meeting, University of Guelph graduate student Laura Burns spoke to several entomologists interested in social media, and the video of these talks was just shared on the Entomological Society of America YouTube channel.
I’m sure that this list isn’t nearly comprehensive, so if you have written science & social media, or know of someone else who has, please let me know and I’ll update the list!