What We’re Reading: Jan 22, 2016

“Jade of the Sea”
Oh come on! Just as the world begins to apply pressure to elephant poachers and ivory consumers in an attempt to decrease the killing, trinket carvers are turning to another threatened species for raw materials, the giant clam (Tridacna gigas). The linked article has a lot of great information, everything to top price of shells to how harvest could exacerbate geopolitical conflict. But I want to add a conservation challenge to this discussion; it took years for conservationists to get politicians and the public to pay attention to elephant poaching and now we have to talk about an invertebrate! This is a major up hill battle! As beautiful as this clam is, many people have a bias towards valuing vertebrates more than other taxa. Conservationists will have to address such biases in efforts to conserve this species.

Genomics and Transcriptomics to Inform Translocations
In populations with low genetic diversity, managers may want to translocate individuals from another population to increase genetic diversity and hopefully counter the effects of inbreeding depression. This paper (sub) proposes a workflow for using genomic and transcriptomic data to decide which individuals to translocate based on patterns of gene expression in the existing population. The workflow proposes to assess functional loci relevant to local adaptation, which may not always be known for a species. This is an interesting proposal to think about despite some challenges, including if management agencies would be willing to pay for and wait for the results of a transciptomics study.

STEM Diversity
There has been some important discussion on Twitter and in the blogosphere recently about making science welcoming to all. We’ve selected a few posts that should be of interest to anyone who cares about diversity in STEM:

Let’s start with ten easy ways you can support diversity in academia in 2016 – some great ideas for individuals who want to contribute to making their working environments more inclusive.

Last week, scientists in the UK participated in an unusual conference, the first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) STEMinar: read this post about why the #LGBTSTEMinar succeeded & was needed or follow #LGBTSTEMinar on Twitter.

On Being a Queer Primatologist is a very personal blog post that discusses some of the issues faced by gay men in biology. In particular I would mark this as essential reading for people who participate in or organise fieldwork – it certainly made me think!

And finally, Work in Progress: Changing Academic Culture is a thought-provoking follow-up from Katie Hinde on the Survey of Academic Field Experiences and sexual harrassment in science.

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