The Williams Lab

Palaeo50: The Pressing Questions in Palaeoecology
A Quick Background of How These Questions Were Generated and Ranked

Most of the questions here were generated and then ranked by members of the Williams Lab (Jessica Blois, Jacquelyn Gill, Simon Goring, Kelly Kohrs, Sam Munoz, Alejo Ordonez, Yue Wang, Jack Williams) at UW-Madison, first during a lab retreat at the Trout Lake Research Station and then during two follow-up lab meetings. After developing an initial set of questions, we grouped them into the five preliminary themes identified by the Palaeo50 conveners, and created our own subgroupings. We followed the Palaeo50 guidelines for questions but at times somewhat loosely; there was an on-going discussion about whether to create specific/tractable questions vs. others that framed a broader agenda for the field.

A subset of questions focusing on refugia and biodiversity came from a workshop convened by Drs. Dan Gavin, Feng-Sheng Hu, and others and held in August 2012. Jessica Blois and Jack Williams participated in this workshop; Dan Gavin gave permission for us to add these questions into the Palaeo50 mix.

To rank these questions, each of us independently gave the question a score of 0 (low) to 3 (high), with no restrictions on how many 0’s, 3’s, etc. that we could award. The numbers in parentheses preceding each question indicate the mean and standard deviation of our scores, and the bolded questions are among our top 10.

All questions have been submitted to the Oxford group; we’re posting them here for on-line discussion. Keep an eye too on the Palaeo50 website or follow the group on Twitter (@Palaeo50); they will soon be posting all of the submitted questions. Thanks to Dr. Alistair Seddon, et al., for launching this event: it’s been a fun exercise, and we’re looking forward to seeing what emerges from the other groups and from the December synthesis!

Check out our questions!

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