Author: Julie Walker
*Just warning you this blog post is basically just an advertisement for you to read my recently published paper. Now, I am very convincing and if you read this blog you will end up reading my paper, so if you would prefer to save some time and skip right to the good stuff you can go ahead and start reading here (that's right its open access baby). If you want to read some more of my rambling, before reading some of my scientific rambling, then by all means enjoy the next few paragraphs! *
Phew. Writing can be hard when you aren't just making a bunch of corny puns and dad jokes ( if you haven't noticed yet I enjoy very high brow humor). But after several months of writing, editing, graphing, analyzing, I finally have a genuine published scientific article! It has definitely been quite the learning process getting to this point. You would think after read all of these academic journals writing one would be a breeze, which maybe it is for some people, but because my list of god given natural talents is very limited to mostly useless skills like being pretty decent a flip cup (which was a much bigger asset to me in undergrad than it has been in graduate school) it was a bit of a challenge.
Without giving away too much of the punchline from my paper, one of the challenges was forming a story around insignificant results. No one warned me that when your perfectly valid hypothesis derived from scouring the literature for hours is rejected, you have to factor in quite a bit of "what f**k does this mean" time into writing. Nor was I warned that insignificant results aren't quite "sexy" enough for mainstream journals. However, after undertaking the challenge of getting a paper published that had very little in the way of statistical significance- I think I my work still has a lot of scientific significance.
So as a newly published author here are my words of wisdom.
I have heard many people referring to insignificant findings as a "failed experiment", this my friend is a toxic way of thinking. Just because the relationship, or mechanism, or whatever you hypothesized was happening isn't happening, does mean mean you failed. You have still added to the body knowledge. Sometimes insignificance is just as significant when looking at an ecological system. Sure writing a paper about how species A does give a hoot about whatever the heck Species B is doing is a little harder to write a compelling story around... but isn't it still important to know? If I was in charge of managing species A, I sure would want to know. By publishing your results you have narrowed the field of possibilities, allowing yourself and others to focus precious time and resources on other avenues. So kick the norm, publish your "failed experiments", and the significance of your contribution will be way < 0.05, I promise.
Anyhow... long story short.... read my paper and forward it to 10 friends or something really bad will happen...
I mean, I'm not saying your head will fall off.... but is it really worth the risk? Told you I was convincing.
Read it here!
Abstract teaser (if your head falling off isn't convincing enough)
Decreasing frequency of freeze events due to climate change is enabling the poleward range expansion of mangroves. As these tropical trees expand poleward, they are replacing herbaceous saltmarsh vegetation. Mangroves and saltmarsh vegetation are ecosystem engineers that are typically viewed as having similar ecosystem functions. However, few studies have investigated whether predation regimes, community structure, and ecosystem functions are shifting at the saltmarsh-mangrove ecotone. In this study, we manipulated predator access to marsh and mangrove creekside habitats to test their role in mediating vegetation and invertebrate structure and stability in a two-year experiment. We also conducted a survey to evaluate how shifting vegetation is modifying structural complexity, invertebrate communities, and ecosystem functioning at the ecotone. Excluding larger (> 2 cm diameter) predators did not affect vegetation or invertebrate structure or stability in either saltmarsh or mangrove habitats. The survey revealed that the two habitat types consistently differ in structural metrics, including vegetation height, inter-stem distance, and density, yet they support similar invertebrate and algal communities, soil properties, and predation rates. We conclude that although mangrove range expansion immediately modifies habitat structural properties, it is not altering larger predator consumptive effects, community stability, community composition, or some other ecosystem functions and properties at the ecotone.
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