What We’re Reading- Dec 17, 2015

Twitter on Blast
Two opinions came out this week lamenting the over use of Twitter at scientific meetings. Specifically, Conservation Bytes and Small Pond Science note they feel the quality of scientific meetings has decreased with increasing electronic use, including tweeting. There’s really a lot to think about in these two posts. For sure, the torrent of tweets during well attended meetings is overwhelming, but then again Twitter has always been a river of information where some tweets will be missed; how are conference tweets different? But it is the divergent proposals from the bloggers that need the most scrutiny. Conservation Bytes suggests limiting the number of people who tweet at a meeting. This greatly ignores the disparities, particularly in career stage, that Twitter has helped to even by giving many a voice. While Small Pond Science does advocate fewer tweets, he recognizes that collation or story-ing tweets into cohesive narratives would benefit the community.

One other point worth discussion: who are these conference tweets for? Many scientists would say other scientists either at the meeting or not. But what about the general public? To what extent are talk titles, links to papers, and a few inside jokes helpful for communicating science. This really raises the question: are we tweeting to the choir?

Relationships Between Land Ownership and Elephant Poaching
The Laikipia-Samburu region of Kenya is unique in that it contains some of the largest populations of wildlife (including elephants) in Kenya, yet is composed almost entirely of non-protected areas. This means that conservation must depend on community involvement and human-wildlife coexistence. This paper explores elephant poaching in this region over a decade. Surprisingly, private ranches have large populations of elephants and lower poaching than other land use types, even national reserves. Although, elephants found poached in national reserves may seek refuge there when injured. As poaching for elephants is at its all time worst, understanding where and when poaching is happening is critical, especially in these public and private landscapes where traditional monitoring methods, like rangers, cannot be used.

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