by Ignacio Morales-Castilla
By the end of May 2015 I was invited to attend a working group entitled “Does biodiversity explain underfilling of species’ thermal ranges?” held at UBC. I attended the meeting thanks to the QCBS excellence award. Aside from the fantastic opportunity to visit Vancouver for the first time, I had the chance to spend 3 intense days of thoroughly organized discussion by the working group organizers (Drs. Jennifer Sunday and Anna Hargreaves) with leading international researchers in macroecology, macrophysiology and macroevolution (i.e., Lauren Buckley, Nicholas Dulvy, Christian Hof, Arne Mooers).
Discussion moved around Darwin’s idea that biotic interactions are overall more important towards the tropics and thus they may constrain more species distributions equatorwards. Thus we reviewed the possibility to test this hypothesis with data on physiologically determined niches, species distributions, and evolutionary data. Since part of the data to be used was being generated by a “sister” working group that I co-lead together with Dr. Miguel Á. Olalla-Tárraga at iDiv (Leipzig, Germany), I had a special interest in this one to be successful. So far I can state it was. Thanks to Anna’s and Jennifer’s well-structured questions and working plan, by the end of the working group we had accurately delineated two prospective papers including the set of predictions, methods to be used and a very accurate distribution of tasks to curate data, analyse data, and write results.
Besides the stimulating ideas discussed during the working group, it was an awesome personal experience. Getting to know and hang out with Anna, Jenn, Christian, Lauren or Arne was fun. Gaining knowledge on the research they are developing or have developed apart from the working group was very inspiring, and a source of new ideas that we may explore in the future. Attending the working group was instructional on how to organize one if you want it to be productive. Although working groups can be exhausting due to intensive hours of thinking and discussing aloud, the organizers took good care of showing us some not-to-miss spots of Vancouver. I have to admit it, after an intense day of work, walking around Kitsilano Beach, spotting seals swimming on the bay and dining out in one of the wackiest sushi place ever, made the experience even worthier.
Sunset from Kitsilano Beach after a hard day’s work