Primer time: a rollercoaster ride through metabarcoding PCR primer design

Now more than ever, PCR has become a household name akin to Harry Potter or Gandalf the Grey, and in most cases no less mysterious nor magical. Whilst the distillation of molecular magic that is PCR has been invaluable (despite controversy) for screening your swabs, spit and other bodily fluids for COVID-19, it is also undeniably applicable to ecology. But how do we design this tool for ecological studies?

PhDing in a pandemic

Since finishing my PhD in the thick of the UK’s latest COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve been asked a torrent of questions by fellow PhDers, higher-ups and curious bystanders. “What was the viva like?” “How did you find the write-up in lockdown?” “Do you have any advice on finding a postdoc in a pandemic?” Now, full disclosure: … Continue reading PhDing in a pandemic

Pilling in the name of

It's about time I told you about pill bugs. You would be forgiven for thinking I refer to some sort of oblong Hemipteran (i.e. true bugs, which the title "bug" should truly accord with). The reality is that I could be referring to one of two quite taxonomically distinct animals. One would be forgiven for … Continue reading Pilling in the name of

Rolling in money spiders

Arachnophobes often recoil at the arrival of a leggy speck of black on their clothes during a peaceful stroll. Fear not, it is but a money spider!

Is it wrong to have our heads in the clouds?

Have you ever seen a gull drumming its feet up and down on the grass, a hive of honeybees perform their peculiar ‘waggle dance’ or two squirrels flicking their tails at one another as if in conversation, and wondered why?

Ecological Philosophy: Biophilia

One of the most important philosophies underpinning ecology and conservation is ‘biophilia’, which broadly describes the innate connection humans have with other organisms. It’s an idea that’s been touched upon many times independently to varying degrees by different philosophers and groups, but really found its most distilled and defensible form with E. O. Wilson’s book … Continue reading Ecological Philosophy: Biophilia

Dangers on the Web: the Internet of Biological Things

New internet technologies permeate biological sciences, expanding the boundaries of possibility, but is this safe?

Why care about ants?

They march along the dense tangle of vines and branches of tropical jungle, across the undergrowth of the world’s boreal forests, over the scorching crests of sand dunes, and even on the hot tarmac of our city streets. Ants are to be found almost everywhere we care to look.

Welcome to Biocoenosis

Welcome to Biocoenosis, a new blog aiming to cover a broad spectrum of ecology and allied subjects. A biocoenosis is an assemblage of closely associated organisms living in a community, much akin to the contributors and, hopefully, the audience of this blog. Though the blog will focus on ecology and evolution, other subjects, such as … Continue reading Welcome to Biocoenosis