17 June 2009

Evolution 2009: Day four

Evolution 2009
ResearchBlogging.org
Today was the final day of symposia and paper presentations for Evolution 2009, and everyone was ready for it. At least, I knew I was when I came suddenly awake in the middle of a talk I'd really wanted to see, about the use of Bayesian clustering methods to detect interspecific hybrids in natural populations. This was in the middle of the third talk session for the day; I took it as a sign from above (or wherever) and bailed for a bike ride.

Before I got to that point, though, there were some great last-day talks. Opening a symposium of retrospectives on The Origin of Species, Doug Schemske discussed the book The Origin, before Alfred Russell Wallace's independent discovery of natural selection forced Darwin to publish "an abstract" to defend his priority. The writings Darwin intended for the much larger Natural Selection weren't assembled for publication until 1975, but Schemske explained that they clarify a number of points commonly said to be missing or underrepresented in The Origin, such as role of geographic isolation in speciation.

In the "Systematics and Adaptive Radiation" session, Joel Cracraft argued that we don't really know what mechanisms shape rates of speciation and extinction over macroevolutionary time. Incredibly, he was not mobbed afterward by irate students of adaptive radiation theory, which posits some very specific mechanisms for exactly those phenomena.

In the spirit of my posts from last year's meetings, I'll conclude by testing the hypothesis that I gave equal attention the talks I attended all week long. Following previously-described methods, I counted up the lines of text in my notes for each talk (talks attended = 16 on day 1, 10 on day 2, 15 on day 3, and 9 on day 4), which was easier this year because I took notes in text files on my laptop.

The means and variation in note length for each day are summarized in the boxplot below. A one-factor ANOVA finds a strongly significant effect of the day of the proceedings on the volume of notes I took (p = 0.00016), but this is mostly due to the shorter notes taken on the first day: there is no significant effect of the day of the proceedings on volume of notes taken if this day is excluded (p = 0.22768). I'm not sure why I took fewer notes on that first day -- maybe I was trying for more bloggable detail after writing my first post on the meeting proceedings.

If I have some time tomorrow, I'm going to follow up on the use of Twitter and FriendFeed by meeting attendees. But I'm done for tonight.

2 comments:

  1. Random curiosity: How do the note-taking results compare if you measure 'notes taken per talk' by number of characters instead of number of lines?

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  2. That's a good question; there's certainly variation in how long each line of my notes is, and characters would be a better index of content. I'll have to see if I can make time to pull those counts together; it's kinda crazy since the meetings wrapped.

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