R plotmath functions combined with variable values

Getting certain special symbols into R plots, combined with values that are currently stored in variables, has been an ongoing headache of mine. In particular, plotmath symbols such as the plus-minus sign (±), for which the plotmath command is %+-%, had always caused problems due to my inability to parse the R help documentation. For an example, I was trying to get the following simple value (a mean ± 1 SE for a temperature difference) inserted into a plot (a minimalist example):

It turns out that the plotmath operators that are surrounded … Continue Reading

Conference live tweets revisited

Having just returned from the 100th Anniversary meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists meeting in Monterey, it seems like a fine time to generate some new summary data of trends in live-tweeting meetings. I originally addressed this some time last year in this original post: http://lukemiller.org/index.php/2016/01/is-live-tweeting-meetings-losing-steam-scicomm/. Since that time, there’s been new iterations of the WSN meeting and the Ecological Society of America meeting. I’ve scraped the Twitter archives for the relevant meeting hashtags (#wsn100 and #esa2016), and removed all retweets, so that only ‘original’ tweets are tallied here.
WSN 2016
Shown first below are the meeting totals for the … Continue Reading

Student poster presentation at WSN 2016

It was the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Western Society of Naturalists this year. While WSN was originally a society with fairly broad interests in the terrestrial and marine realms, in the last few decades it has very much become focused on marine habitats, with the occasional estuarine or terrestrial presentations popping up. I try to make a point of going every year, since it’s a great way to catch up on marine science along the west coast of North America (and elsewhere on the globe), and it’s a very student-focused meeting, with at least half of the … Continue Reading

“Robomussels” in the New York Times

Robomussel in mussel bed at Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA.

Robomussel in a mussel bed at Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA.

For several years, starting first at UC Santa Barbara around 1999/2000, and then in the mid 2000’s and early teens at Hopkins Marine Station, I would spend one or two low tides per year going out to the seashore and gluing fake plastic mussels into the middle of real mussel beds (as shown above). These ‘robomussels’ were originally created by Brian Helmuth (now of Northeastern University), … Continue Reading

rtide: a R package for predicting tide heights (US locations only currently)

Joe Thorley at Poisson Consulting has released a new R package, rtide, (on which I am listed as a co-author) that provides the ability to predict future (and past) tide heights for 637 different tide stations in the United States and associated territories. The underlying data, consisting of tide harmonic constituents, are collected and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The author of the definitive open source tide prediction software, XTide, collates those harmonic data into a usable format, and we have harvested the data to create the … Continue Reading

My work as a snail whisperer and professional killjoy

Littorina littorea from Quoddy Head, Maine. Photo by me.

Littorina littorea periwinkle snails from Quoddy Head, Maine. Photo by me.

The New York Times online Science section published a short piece earlier this month by Joanna Klein about humming to periwinkles.

Joanna contacted me for some background on this story, which has a simple premise:
People who grew up in coastal New England know this trick: To coax a periwinkle snail out of its shell, hum to it.
This was news to me, but also sounded crazy enough that there might … Continue Reading

Tidal datums and shifting baselines

I recently dredged up an old poster on tide heights and tidal datums that several of us put together back in graduate school and presented at the Western Society of Naturalists meeting in either 2003 or 2004. This was a hot topic (for 5 or so people) at the time, since the national tidal datums for the United States had all just been updated.

Click for the pdf copy of the poster

Click for the pdf copy of the poster

This poster discusses how the tidal datum, i.e. the location … Continue Reading

Open Wave Height Logger revision C

The Open Wave Height Logger (OWHL) project has reached another minor milestone with the release of a new hardware revision, RevC.

This is a redesign of the three printed circuit boards, breaking physical compatibility with the older revisions, but it maintains software compatibility with the existing OWHL code (hardware designs and code available at the GitHub repository: https://github.com/millerlp/OWHL). The goal was to make the hardware a bit easier to assemble, and make certain parts (the micro SD card) easier to reach. All of the tiny surface mount components, save a few, are now on a single side of each … Continue Reading

Our new paper on limpets grazing microscopic algae

Lottia limpets sitting on an experimental plate in the intertidal zone.

Lottia limpets sitting on an experimental plate in the intertidal zone.

We recently had a new paper come out in Marine Ecology Progress Series, titled Quantifying the top-down effects of grazers on a rocky shore: selective grazing and the potential for competition (open access link at MEPS)  (permanent doi link).

This project involved putting a series of round aluminum plates out in the high intertidal zone at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA, and allowing natural microalgae … Continue Reading

Things you see with a camera trap

I had the time lapse camera described in this post set out in the rocky intertidal zone in Monterey. Late one afternoon it caught these images of a ground squirrel venturing down into the mussel zone and picking small mussels (Mytilus californianus) off the rocks and eating them. If you replay the video a few times you’ll see a couple of the mussels on the edge of the bed disappear as the squirrel pulls them off and opens them to eat the insides.

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