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A few useful tricks for using Endnote

I’m not sure how widespread this issue is, but I find the instant formatting function of Endnote x7 to become painfully slow after my MS Word manuscripts include 100 or so references. I’d hope that there is an elegant solution to this, but I haven’t found it yet. My current strategy for maintaining sanity while composing reference-rich manuscripts is to leave the field codes unformatted and disable instant formatting. After a bit of reverse engineering I now use the following field codes to achieve the desired reference formatting. I then periodically format the references to make sure everything looks as expected. Hope this helps anyone stuck in similar predicaments.

In these examples, the author = Forel, and the year = 1909.

{Forel, 1909 #10514} = (Forel, 1909)
{Forel, 1909 #10514@@author-year} = Forel (1909)
{Forel, 1909 #10514@@hidden} = only show in bibliography
{Forel, #10514} = show only author
{, 1999 #10514} = show only year

Scratchpads tutorial: dealing with nomenclatural changes (new combinations)

Scratchpads tutorial: dealing with nomenclatural changes (new combinations) from Eli Sarnat on Vimeo.

In this tutorial I show one way for updating terms in the biological classification to reflect nomenclatural changes. The situation I deal with here is for a species included in the site which has recently been transferred to a different genus. This nomenclatural act is known in taxonomic jargon as a ‘new combination’.

In this case, the species Monomorium destructor has been transferred to the genus Trichomyrmex. I change the Unit 1 name (genus) of the term Monomorium destructor to Trichomyrmex. Then I add a new taxon term ‘Monomorium destructor‘ as a child to Trichomyrmex destructor and classify it an invalid name associated with Monomorium destructor. This way all the content previously associated with Monomorium destructor will now be associated with Trichomyrmex destructor, and anytime someone searches for the now invalid name Monomorium destructor the user will be directed to the valid combination Trichomyrmex destructor.

Revisiting the ants of Melanesia and the taxon cycle: historical and human-mediated invasions of a tropical archipelago

Evan Economo and I have a new paper out on the Taxon Cycle. The taxon cycle is a hypothesis advanced by E.O. Wilson that predicts a process in which successive waves of widespread disturbance-tolerant species from continental systems colonize marginal habitat on islands, expand into less disturbed forest interiors, radiate into isolated high-elevation endemics, and then either colonize a new island island or go extinct. Evan Economo and I found strong support for the hypothesis by analyzing the distributions of 183 Fijian ant species belonging to four endemism classes across disturbance and elevation gradients. Evan, Lacey Knowles and I recently received an NSF grant to build upon this work and the Pheidole research I published with Corrie Moreau.

Economo & Sarnat, 2012

Economo, E.P. & Sarnat, E.M. (2012) Revisiting the ants of Melanesia and the taxon cycle: historical and human-mediated invasions of a tropical archipelago. American Naturalist, 180, E1-E16. [pdf]

Following the ants

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area’s coast range where I spent my earliest years on hand and knee amongst oak woodlands, peering under stones and logs for creatures more fantastical than any children’s book could illustrate. When it came time to choose a project for my high school thesis, I argued that the many hallmarks of human civilization – notably the domestication of crops and animals, division of labor, slavery, warfare and altruism – were achieved by ant civilization while our own ancestors were eking out an obscure existence in the African treetops.

This fascination with ants, which remains the focus of current research, was fostered by a predisposition for staring at the ground, a family vacation to the jungles of Central America, and an early reading of E.O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler’s “The Ants” and “Journey to the Ants.” My interest in these small creatures led to a job at the Essig Museum of Entomology as an undergraduate at University of California Berkeley, and to an impressionable semester abroad in Costa Rica with the Organization for Tropical Studies. After a year working on an organic farm in Mendocino, and a summer stint in the Smithsonian’s insect collection, I joined Phil Ward’s ant systematics lab to pursue a doctoral degree in entomology from UC Davis.

Although my dissertation research would eventually settle on the systematics, biogeography, and conservation of the Fijian ant fauna, my initial plan was to use phylogenetic comparative methods to determine what life-history traits allow an inordinate number of Tetramorium ants to break free of their native ranges and spread across the globe as successful tramp species. My first pursuit of these globe-trotting invasives and their endemic sister-species took me to the Pacific islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and New Guinea. The challenges of conducting research in New Guinea colluded with the persuasive arguments of Dr. David Olson – a fellow ant enthusiast who was directing a conservation organization in Fiji, to pivot my thesis work towards the more achievable goal of revising the ant fauna of the Fijian archipelago – a feat last attempted nearly a century ago. Invasive ants found a way back into my research program when, during my fieldwork in Fiji, I became involved with an international coalition seeking to protect Pacific Island nations against the environmental, agricultural, and human health impacts being wrought by invasive ant incursions. In this capacity, and with funding assistance from the USDA and Biosecurity New Zealand, I developed the web-based resource PIAkey: an identification guide to invasive ants of the Pacific Islands.

In addition to continuing my work on the systematics, biogeography, and conservation of Pacific ants, I am now working as a postdoc with Dr. Andrew Suarez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) on expanding the geographic and taxonomic scope of PIAkey to include the introduced ants of North America. Both of these projects will be significantly enhanced by the opportunities afforded by EOL.