Year in Review: 2014


This year has flown by. I can’t believe it will be 2015 before the week is over. Overall, 2014 was a good year. I published 2 papers, have 2 in press, and 2 more in review. The two published papers have already received 3 citations each with only 1 of the 6 being a self citation. That bodes well for the future, hopefully.

Milanovich, J.R., D.J. Hocking, W.E. Peterman, and J.A. Crawford. In Press. Effective use of trails for assessing terrestrial salamander abundance and detection:  A case study at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Natural Areas Journal.

Anderson, T. L., D. J. Hocking, C. A. Conner, J. E. Earl, E. B. Harper, M. S. Osbourn, W. E. Peterman, T. A. G. Rittenhouse, and R. D. Semlitsch. In Press. Abundance and phenology patterns of two pond-breeding salamanders determine species interactions in natural populations. Oecologia. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-014-3151-z

Hocking, D. J. and K. J. Babbitt. 2014. Amphibian Contributions to Ecosystem Services. Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 9(1): 1-17. (Open Access)

Hocking, D. J. and K. J. Babbitt. 2014. The role of red-backed salamanders on ecosystem functions. PLoS ONE 9(1): e86854. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0086854 (Open Access).

I also received a USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellowship. This has been great on many levels. I enjoy the projects I’m working on and really like all the people I work with. In general, 2014 has been a year of building and networking. I have met well over 100 new people related to my work (state, federal, environmental NGO, and academic). I’m collaborating with 4 new PIs and more than a dozen people I hadn’t met before this year. I spent over 4 weeks traveling to meet with collaborators and attend meetings and participated in more webinars than in the rest of my life combined. The travel was generally quite nice though. A week in Fort Collins at the USGS Powell Center working on integrated (joint) population models to combine occupancy, count, and capture-recapture data. Then a week in Glacier National Park discussing stream temperature modeling and fish abundance and distributions. I even had time to take an epic bike ride up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

istock_000005622581mediumI also got to hang out with bright young climate scientists at the Northeast Climate Science Center retreat in the Missouri Ozarks. It was very cool to hear about all the different projects. The neatest one, or at least the one I had never thought about before, was relating climate warming to airport takeoffs. Warmer air is less dense so a plane needs to be lighter or have a longer runway to take off. This could be incredibly important for many airports, especially in developed areas like the northeast US where runways can’t easily be extended (pesky sky scrapers and oceans get in the way).

To round out my travel, I presented at the American Fisheries Society conference in Quebec City (great city) and at the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Society meeting in Portland, ME. I gave two talks at the AFS meeting, one on the effect of repeated sampling (1 vs 3 pass) on brook trout abundance and detection estimates and the other on combining information from occupancy, abundance, and capture-recapture (CJS) analyses for understanding climate and land-use effects on brook trout.

In addition to networking, it was a learning and building year in other ways too. I developed a daily stream temperature model for the northeastern US that used nested random effects and spatially-explicit autoregressive residual effects. Working with millions of temperature records across thousands of sites and predicting to 1.8 billion points required learning a lot about handling big data. I also had to learn how to do this in a way that would work within a web-based decision support tool that our research group is developing. It certainly slowed the progress of manuscripts but I am very excited about the potential utility for state and federal agencies and anyone else interested in headwater stream management. The tool will allow managers and scientists to not only visualize all the data from the region, but also the model predictions for sites and years without data. There will be slider bars that allow managers to do on-the-fly and formal scenario testing (e.g. change forest cover, impervious surface, etc. and see what happens to temperatures and fish populations). It will also be used in a Structured Decision Making process with managers that I’m involved with. The web tool is undergoing internal testing now but I will definitely share it on this blog when ready for use.

On a personal level things have been challenging at times but life is good. I spend the work week away from my family with is hard (but productive) and results in a huge amount of driving. I also retired from competitive running after 22 years. My body just couldn’t handle training at an elite level anymore. After 3 stress fractures, a collapsed arch, arthritic hip impingement, damaged achilles tendons, and 2 knee/hamstring surgeries, I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t give up competing in athletic events though, so I took up cycling which apart from falling is much easier on the body. I did 2 road races and moved from Cat5 to Cat4 and ~12 cyclocross races and moved from Cat5 to Cat3. Cycling has been a fun new challenge but I don’t feel the need to take it seriously as I did with running. It’s also a great way to see new areas!

Finally, although I haven’t blogged that much this year, it has been a good year for the blog. The wordpress auto-summary says,

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 28,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The busiest day of the year was December 3rd with 264 views. The most popular post that day was Lags and Moving Means in dplyr.

That’s almost twice as many views as last year. Hopefully some of them are actual people and not bots. My most popular posts were similar to those last year, which is nice to see that people are still finding them and finding them useful:

You can find the full blog report here.

Wishing Everyone the Best in 2015

Happy New Year!

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