It’s my first semester teaching Evolution & Ecology at Nicholls State University; with plenty of challenging and complex topics to tackle, I’ve also been given the latitude to integrate more science communication (scicomm) into this upper-level biology course. We’ve included Twitter and popular science articles alongside analyses of natural selection, genetic drift, and traditional scientific journals, emphasizing that effectively communicating science is almost as important as doing good science. That brings us to the latest component of our synthesis of science and scicomm: science blogs.
During the #SocialFish symposium at the 2016 meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Jeremy Fox of Dynamic Ecology (well worth checking out their blog) suggested that blogs could be considered “living fossils,” holdovers of a bygone era. Many of us (including Jeremy), however, believe long-form science communication is still valuable amidst the relentless volley of fast-paced tweets and snaps. With that value in mind, I’ve had my students research different science blogs as they prepare to write their own posts on selected evolutionary ecology topics. As we all have a role to play in this scicomm ecosystem, I thought I’d share some related (but different) species of science blogs. From the deep sea to the air (yes, even some birds in these blogs), here are five science blogs to check out:
Southern Fried Science (SFS)
“Southern Fried Science is a place to discuss marine science and conservation as we explore the oceans.” SFS was founded by deep-sea ecologist/population geneticist Dr. Andrew Thaler, and recently celebrated its 9th anniversary, which is like 63 in blog years. Seriously, it’s an impressive accomplishment and testament to their team of great science communicators and coverage of diverse marine science topics. What’s the latest in marine science? Be sure to catch Monday Morning Salvage and Thursday Afternoon Dredging!
Living Alongside Wildlife
“Living Alongside Wildlife is a reference to a land ethic suggesting human and wildlife populations can coexist if we respect our natural resources. Our goals should include living alongside wildlife in perpetuity, rather than unsustainable exploitation, wanton killing and irreversible destruction of their habitats.” Dr. David Steen is a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist studying how humans affect wildlife populations and habitats. His blog is a key component of his successful outreach efforts to increase awareness and foster appreciation for wildlife, particularly those underappreciated, limbless, oft-maligned organisms…he talks a lot about snakes.
Deep Sea News (DSN)
“Demystifying and humanizing science in an open conversation that instills passion, awe, and responsibility for the oceans.” Dr. Craig McClain, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), leads DSN with a team of scientists, communicators, and an ambitious set of outreach goals; rumor has it a big scicomm event is coming to LUMCON in 2018 in the form of “OCEANDOTCOMM”. Also, there are giant deep-sea isopods and crazy experiments sinking trees into the abyss to see what eats them.
Cool Green Science (CGS)
“Whether it’s tracking chimps, netting eels, or measuring human well-being in a remote village, our writers will take you into the field to the latest, cutting-edge science. We’re here to help you get smarter by nature.” From climate change to Wolverines to sustainable fisheries, the science blog of the Nature Conservancy takes you around the world with stories of conservation science from writers Cara Byington, Justine Hausheer (check out her latest on giant Ocean Sunfishes!), Lisa Feldkamp, fellow “Gar Trekker” Matt Miller, and many more!
Virginia Tech Ichthyology Class
“A blog for teaching and learning about Ichthyology at Virginia Tech. For students enrolled in Ichthyology (FIW 4424) and other interested fish enthusiasts.” Dr. Don Orth is a proponent of incorporating social media into the classroom, and has created a blog for his Ichthyology class at Virginia Tech. Luckily, you don’t need to be enrolled in the class to keep up-to-date on what the next generation of ichthyologists are learning these days. The occasional musical numbers featuring various fish species are also not to be missed!
This list is by no means comprehensive! Feel free to share conservation/science blogs that you follow below in the comments; as always, thanks to our readers!