Dr Philipp Boersch‑Supan

Quantitative Ecologist

Mapping one's academic career path

Yesterday I came across Gordon Pennycook’s tweet about moving in academia:

So given that there’s a transatlantic move coming up for me to take up my first permanent research position at the British Trust for Ornithology, I thought, why not figure this out quickly using R.

library(ggmap)# for geocoding and plotting 
library(geosphere)# for distance calculations
library(knitr)# for making a nice table

I used ggmap::geocode to look up the coordinates of each station on my academic career path:

academic_places <- geocode(c(home = "Neustadt an der Weinstrasse",
                             undergrad = "Marburg an der Lahn",
                             masters_phd = "St Andrews, Fife",
                             phd = "Oxford, Oxfordshire",
                             postdoc1 = "Cambridge, UK",
                             postdoc2a = "Tampa, FL",
                             postdoc2b = "Gainesville, FL",
                             job = "Thetford"),
                           source = "dsk")

A quick plot to sanity check the locations

#make a map
qmplot(lon, lat, data = academic_places, maptype = "watercolor", color = I("red")) + geom_path(color = "red")

I then used the geosphere package to calculate sequential distance between stations

#calculate distances
distances_m <- distGeo(as.matrix(academic_places[,2:3]))

#transform units
distances_km <- distances_m/1000
distances_mi <- distances_m/1609

And lastly, I made a table to sum up everything.

#make a table
kable(data.frame(stage = c(academic_places[-1,1], "Total"),
                 distance_km = round(c(distances_km, sum(distances_km))),
                 distance_mi = round(c(distances_mi, sum(distances_mi)))))
stage distance_km distance_mi
undergrad 172 107
masters_phd 992 617
phd 516 321
postdoc1 107 67
postdoc2a 7121 4426
postdoc2b 185 115
job 7005 4354
Total 16099 10006

New job - I am joining the British Trust for Ornithology

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be moving back to the United Kingdom this Spring to join the British Trust for Ornithology as an Ecological Statistician.

🐦📈🦆🖥🐣📊🦉💻🦅📉🐧


New paper - Albatross egg temperatures

graphical summary

New paper published on egg temperature ontogenies in subantarctic albatrosses:

Knowledge of thermal traits is essential for understanding and modelling physiological responses to environmental change. Egg temperatures are poorly studied in most tubenose species. Our new study Surface temperatures of albatross eggs and nests fills a part of this data gap.

We used a contactless infrared thermometer to measure egg and nest surface temperatures throughout the incubation period for four albatross species at Bird Island, South Georgia. Observed egg temperatures were lower than the egg temperatures reported for most Procellariiformes. Temperature gradients across viable eggs declined by up to 9°C during incubation, reflecting increased embryonic circulation and metabolic heat production. This suggests that bioenergetic models should not assume constant egg temperatures during embryo development. Non-viable (addled) eggs could be identified by large temperature gradients in late incubation, indicating that infrared thermometry can be used to determine whether the embryo has died or the egg is infertile in monitoring and managed breeding (e.g. translocation) programmes. Egg temperatures were correlated with ground temperatures, indicating that incubated eggs are vulnerable to environmental variability.

This study was conducted in collaboration with Leah Johnson, Richard Phillips, and Sadie Ryan.


New paper - Bite rates in Anopheline and Culex mosquitoes

A new paper with the QDEC Lab and Ecuadorian collaborators on human biting rates of three mosquito taxa has just been published in Malarie Journal: Quantifying Seasonal and Diel Variation in Anopheline and Culex Human Biting Rates in Southern Ecuador.

Our paper uses hurdle models to determine if biting activity was fundamentally different for different taxa, and to identify temporal and spatial factors influencing bite rate. Biting trends varied significantly among species and time. All taxa exhibited exophagic feeding behavior, and outdoor locations increased both the odds and incidence of bites across taxa.


New paper - Sampling scale and movement model identifiability

New paper published on model and parameter identifiability in random walk models:

Our new paper Changing measurements or changing movements? Sampling scale and movement model identifiability across generations of biologging technology asks the question whether it is possible to compare flight-length data obtained decades apart by different generations of biologging technology. We found that care must be taken when comparing data collected at differing timescales, even when using inference procedures that incorporate the observational process, as model selection and parameter estimation may be biased. As a result comparisons may only be valid when degrading all data to match the lowest resolution in a set.

This study was led by Leah Johnson and conducted in collaboration with Sadie Ryan, Richard Phillips, and myself. graphical summary