My recent weeks were pretty tough with a lot to do and take care of. Now I finally find some time again to write some lines as a kind of update.
One of the bigger events that can be pinpointed as such was the general assembly of our smallFOREST project. This year it took place in Toulouse and I have to admit that I was quite prejudiced towards the city. This was mainly due to me driving through this industrial belt of Toulouse when travelling through the region and you can’t speak of it as a beautiful area. But the city centre is quite impressive, comparable to other cities of that size, not particularly dirty or chaotic but with a certain charm, not too perfect but nice to look at :). The people there are not much different than elsewhere in france, maybe a little more pragmatic.
The meeting was quite productive. It is a really good feeling to see plans unfolding, gears spinning and things happening. I would say the project is on a good path and we will be producing some real interesting outcome in the next year. As always, there was a little excursion to the field. I have been there two times already and felt even a little at home. After the site-managers I am the person who has been there most often within the project! :) Unfortunately it was raining so heavy that we had to force ourselfs to get out of the bus. But real ecologists don’t care for that and still philosophize in the heaviest rain about a certain type of landscape and how this landscape shapes the behaviour and attitudes of the people living in that landscape…
This is also a nice transition to my next topic :). My first article will be about how small mammals and any other animal related to ticks will depend on the size of fragmented forests. I finally find the time to seriously work on, have developed a sleek concept and am going through the literature to find so-called effect sizes. Those effect sizes are a variable to give studies or parts of studies a certain value that can be compared with other studies or parts of other studies. The methods have been developed in such a way that all kind of different measures in the literature can be used to calculate an effect size, to actually be able to “compare oranges and apples”. Out of this comparison we want to achieve new knowledge, after all oranges and apples are both round, to a certain extend. Also we can find out that fruits are seldom blue but green or red(ish). This might give us the idea to try to find out why this is, why blue seems to be almost absent in the colour of fruits.
So maybe I will find out that animals of a certain group (say mice living in the edge of forests) always are plentiful in numbers in small forests since there are more edges in landscapes with small but many of those small forests. The group does not have to be the same species, of which all participants would probably have a very similar behaviour, but could also be two or three different species. They maybe even live in different parts of those edges with different behaviours but, who knows, maybe they all react to ticks and the disease they carry in the same way. I could even imagine that this pattern really exists, after all there might be some coevolution between ticks and the life in forest edges, which developed several times analogously in different species. But this is of course only some preliminary idea that first needs to be proven. I am at least really looking forward to explore the literature and hopefully find something significant :).