Cows need scratching brushes

11 08 2018

Not just a luxury it seems: cows want brushes as much as they want food according to new research by Nina and team, adding to a whole corpus of work on the importance of grooming. (Nice write-up in the NYT here too). Now if only someone would make such a thing for cats

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Emma’s nearly done!

11 08 2018

From Emma yesterday, sending me Chapter 1 quickly to turn around before I take some holiday (in an email I soooo nearly deleted as spam!):

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And we are now good to go! Defence date: Sept 6th!

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Mason Lab dinner in Charlottetown

8 08 2018

The second night of the ISAE I took old and new lab members out to dinner, along with any partners who were around (including Michelle’s boyfriend Aaron, who by total coincidence was doing some research at UPEI and appeared just as we were heading off!).

Front L to Front R in the top image are: Aimee, Jamie, Mike, Gwen (Misha’s partner), Aaron (Michelle‘s partner), Misha, Robert (Aimee’s partner),  Miranda, Emma, Andrea, Maria, me and Becky.


Sleeping cat with fallen cherry blossom

2 08 2018

One of the slides from Hajime Tanida‘s lovely ISAE conference talk today, on providing drinking water to the feral cats of Onomichi: 


The audience forgot they were serious applied ethologists, and cooed and ooed at each and every lovely photo.

Squandering fish

28 07 2018

16850_350x276_72_DPI_0Last year, work from UBC published in Fish and Fisheries showed that around 10% of caught fish are just thrown back in the sea, dead.  Now, about 12 months later, there’s more grim news on wasted fish: it seems that actually around one third of caught fish is wasted, according to a report from the FAO (written up by The Guardian here, and by a fisheries information website here). 

On top of the 20% of meat and dairy that goes to waste, this means a staggering amount of animal suffering has absolutely no point. If animal harvesting and farming were humane, respectful and efficient, with everyone applying the 3Rs at every stage of the process, I might be OK with it. But the way we humans operate really is pretty indefensible.

Congratulations to Emmas!

28 07 2018

‘Little Emma’ (Emma Nip) had her paper on chickadee body masses accepted at last – something she submitted at about the time she joined the lab, only to discover that The Canadian Field Naturalist is the world’s slowest journal. Congratulations to her on her first paper, and her persistence and patience!

Meanwhile me and ‘Big Emma’ (Emma Mellor) also finally had our Zoo Biology paper accepted, again after more than a year. Obviously this is great news, but the message below had us in something of a panic…

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… because the fine details of phylogenetic comparative methods are not especially easy, and in all honesty this paper was never actually refereed by an expert.  So, we were now rushing to get input and a critical eye cast on the most technical sections.  Hafiz Maharali (who was on Miranda’s committee) and Innes Cuthill (who’s on Emma’s) were both great – speedy, helpful and to the point. We also spotted a possible error in “A Primer on Phylogenetic Least Squares“, which we’d cited handsomely, and scurried to edit the manuscript around that too so that we didn’t parrot it and then make one of our own figures look wrong.  In the end we had to ask the Zoo Biology production folks to pull our proofs and let us submit as fairly overhauled new Word doc.  I’ve never done anything remotely like this before, but they were very good about it. So, a big thank-you to Vinoth in New Delhi, and a big sigh of relief from us.

One-handed typing skills

25 07 2018

… are rapidly being acquired by Emma as she edits the manuscript we’re writing with Miranda, Eve firmly in the one place where she really likes a good nap: