Revisions revisions revisions

10 04 2019


Our flurry of paper submissions in Fall and Winter has triggered a logjam of revisions requests and referees’ reports. And because peer review is a lottery, they’ve spanned the whole gamut from humblingly helpful to unbelievably frustrating.

Waiting longest in the queue is Maria’s mink brain paper with Behavioural Brain Research (and I can’t even remember now what they wanted changing!). But then a flurry arrived in the last 2-3 weeks: Lindsey’s Behavioural Processes paper and Misha’s Scientific Reports paper, both back with thought provoking but very useful comments; a paper on her main MSc results that Emma lead-authored for Applied Animal Behaviour Science, blissfully requiring only minor revisions; and our cat faces paper, back again from Animal Welfare, and the only one we’ve managed to resubmit so far (please, pleeeease *sob*, just drop it Referee 2).

AW resubm

Another amazing ability for a solitary Carnivore

24 03 2019

New research from Jens Malmkvist shows that mink mothers can recognise their own babies’ calls! This is surprising because the young are altricial, and females are solitary; which means that if a female has a small baby in her nest, it really is hers – no nest parasitism or allosuckling here.

Mink babies

“Cat faces” resubmitted

18 02 2019

We got comments back from Animal Welfare on just before the Christmas break, and finally got our revisions back to the journal today.  One referee’s comments were niggly and hard to deal with (I think we did it though), while the other referee just loved the paper but only said this in one line (how about being a bit more fulsome Referee 2?!). But cautiously, I think we’re going to be OK at last! The survey was such a hit, and the results so cool, it would be so lovely to see this finally out!

Screenshot 2019-02-18 14.20.17




Congratulations to Lindsey!

27 12 2018

Lindsey submitted her first ever first-authored paper last week! This is always an achievement, but in this case it was also a major relief: the MS was starting to drive us both insane, as we tried again and again to retrofit a sensible, research-based rationale onto a rather intuitive undergraduate project. This rationale morphed from a (baroque) method to assess individual recognition (an idea ditched a while ago), to, more reasonably, a novel test of Social Learning Strategy theory.  Highlights of this challenging and circuitous journey included Lindsey presenting to the GTA Animal Cognition Reading Group in November, and her teaching herself stats amazingly competently; but lowlights included realising that at least two aspects of the experiment were (potential referees please stop reading now) totally stupid. Lindsey showed outstanding resilience and perseverance throughout this process, even when she had a “heart full of hate” (quote of the week that week). So, double congratulations to her: I hope she’s spending the Christmas break doing nothing but nice things.

Screenshot 2018-12-27 18.20.25

Mike Mendl’s visit

9 11 2018

Last week Mike came to stay for a few days, on the way back from Baltimore where he’d given the Charles River lecture at AALAS (and here he is, below, about to get his Red Car back to the airport). Mike

While in Guelph, he gave the talk again for Central Animal Facility staff, we worked on a piece we’re writing on how to validate indicators of animal affect, and we had a good time catching up.

We also made a major decision: to finally give up on the book, and turn the three things we’ve written for it into papers. It’s taken us 12 years to get this far; and if I look unflinchingly at my future sabbaticals, and realistically assess how much serious writing time I have between them (none), we wouldn’t be finished for another … 18 years! My refusal to admit this ’til now has honestly been a bit like someone determinedly trying to get a duvet to fit into a match box (it WILL fit, it WILL, it WILL). But now our work should at least see the light of day in 2019.



Our Zoo Biology paper is “Editor’s Choice”!

4 11 2018

After a long and rather painful gestation, me and Big Emma‘s paper on phylogenetic comparative methods was picked as the Zoo Biology Editor’s Choice (thank-you Jason!)! We’re both thrilled, and it also means it’s freely available to non-subscribers for 3 months:


Papers papers papers

25 10 2018

At last, the “cursed” play paper is properly out, after a YEAR in press! Here is free access for 50 days:

Screenshot 2018-10-24 21.17.32

(And if you don’t have time to read it, the answer’s “no”).

This week Maria also heroically submitted our mink brain paper, pulling a near all-nighter (something of an annual habit this time of year), to make sure collaborator Craig could get a submission no. for his CCV before his NSERC DG deadline.

Screenshot 2018-10-24 21.26.45