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Does journal peer review miss best and brightest?

31 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

By David Shultz, 22 December 2014, in Science

Sometimes greatness is hard to spot. Before going on to lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, Michael Jordan was famously cut from his high school basketball team. Scientists often face rejection of their own—in their case, the gatekeepers aren’t high school coaches, but journal editors and peers they select to review submitted papers. A study published today indicates that this system does a reasonable job of predicting the eventual interest in most papers, but it may shoot an air ball when it comes to identifying really game-changing research.

Studying peer review is difficult due to the confidential nature of the process, but sociologist Kyle Siler of the University of Toronto in Canada and colleagues were able to examine the peer-review history of 1008 articles that were submitted to three elite medical journals:Annals of Internal Medicine, The BMJ, and The Lancet. In total, just 62 of the manuscripts were accepted (6.2%), confirming just how difficult it is to be published in a top-tier journal. Editors “desk rejected” 722 of the manuscripts, meaning they never made it to the journal’s peer-review stage. However, 757 of the initially rejected articles eventually went on to be published elsewhere. This allowed Siler and his team to analyze if, like Jordan, the vetoed papers would go on to achieve greatness.

The researchers found that, by and large, the gatekeeping system was predictive of a paper’s eventual number of citations. Papers that were accepted outright by one of the three elite journals tended to garner more citations than papers that were rejected and then published elsewhere, they report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Additionally, papers that were desk rejected went on to receive fewer citations than papers that were approved by an editor, but then rejected during the subsequent peer-review process. “It’s a sign that these editors making snap decisions really quickly still have a nose for what quality is and isn’t,” Siler says.

There is a serious chink in the armor, though: All 14 of the most highly cited papers in the study were rejected by the three elite journals, and 12 of those were bounced before they could reach peer review. The finding suggests that unconventional research that falls outside the established lines of thought may be more prone to rejection from top journals, Siler says.

Read more here

Arrival of the Fukushima radioactivity plume in North American continental waters

30 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

Devastated reactor buildings after the tsunami hit. Photo: AP
Devastated reactor buildings after the tsunami hit. Photo: AP

A publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (published ahead of print December 29, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1412814112)

Authors: John N. Smith (a), Robin M. Brown (b), William J. Williams (b), Marie Robert (b), Richard Nelson (a), and S. Bradley Moran (c)

(a) Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Dartmouth, NS, Canada B2Y 4A2;
(b) Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 4B2; and
(c) Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882-1197

Edited by David M. Karl, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, and approved December 2, 2014 (received for review July 28, 2014)

To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: john.smith@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.


The radionuclide results in this report represent the first systematic study, to our knowledge, of the arrival of the Fukushima radioactivity signal in continental waters off North America. The present time series results are critical to an understanding of the circulation of Fukushima tracers in the eastern North Pacific and to the tuning and validation of ocean circulation models that are being used to predict the future evolution of this signal. They are also important for informing the public of the magnitude of the Fukushima radioactivity signal in North American continental waters and enabling a science-based assessment of the significance of its potential effects on human health and the environment.


The large discharge of radioactivity into the northwest Pacific Ocean from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor accident has generated considerable concern about the spread of this material across the ocean to North America. We report here the first systematic study to our knowledge of the transport of the Fukushima marine radioactivity signal to the eastern North Pacific. Time series measurements of 134Cs and137Cs in seawater revealed the initial arrival of the Fukushima signal by ocean current transport at a location 1,500 km west of British Columbia, Canada, in June 2012, about 1.3 y after the accident. By June 2013, the Fukushima signal had spread onto the Canadian continental shelf, and by February 2014, it had increased to a value of 2 Bq/m3 throughout the upper 150 m of the water column, resulting in an overall doubling of the fallout background from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. Ocean circulation model estimates that are in reasonable agreement with our measured values indicate that future total levels of 137Cs (Fukushima-derived plus fallout 137Cs) off the North American coast will likely attain maximum values in the 3–5 Bq/m3 range by 2015–2016 before declining to levels closer to the fallout background of about 1 Bq/m3 by 2021. The increase in 137Cs levels in the eastern North Pacific from Fukushima inputs will probably return eastern North Pacific concentrations to the fallout levels that prevailed during the 1980s but does not represent a threat to human health or the environment.

Freely available online through the PNAS open access option here

An integrated view of gamma radiation effects on marine fauna: from molecules to ecosystems

28 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

Abstract: Accidental release of nuclides into the ocean is causing health risks to marine organisms and humans. All life forms are susceptible to gamma radiation with a high variation, depending on various physical factors such as dose, mode, and time of exposure and various biological factors such as species, vitality, age, and gender. Differences in sensitivity of gamma radiation are also associated with different efficiencies of mechanisms related to protection and repair systems. Gamma radiation may also affect various other integration levels: from gene, protein, cells and organs, population, and communities, disturbing the energy flow of food webs that will ultimately affect the structure and functioning of ecosystems. Depending on exposure levels, gamma radiation induces damages on growth and reproduction in various organisms such as zooplankton, benthos, and fish in aquatic ecosystems. In this paper, harmful effects of gamma-irradiated aquatic organisms are described and the potential of marine copepods in assessing the risk of gamma radiation is discussed with respect to physiological adverse effects that even affect the ecosystem level.

More information here

L’Ontario veut se débarasser de pesticides funestes

28 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

Un article de Pauline Gravel pour le journal Le Devoir, 27 novembre 2014 :

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario propose un règlement visant à restreindre l’emploi de semences de maïs et de soja ayant été enrobées d’un pesticide néonicotinoïde afin de protéger les abeilles et autres insectes pollinisateurs, dont les populations sont décimées par intoxication à ces pesticides. Nombreux sont ceux qui espèrent que la démarche ontarienne, qui est une première en Amérique du Nord, amènera les autres provinces canadiennes et le gouvernement fédéral à bannir ces pesticides.

Lire la suite ici

Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année - Bioécologie sends you Greetings of the Season

27 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

Toute l'équipe de Bioécologie vous souhaite de très bonnes fêtes de fin d'année.

All our best wishes for the festive season.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a significant solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the right – on Dec. 19, 2014. The image shows a subset of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the extremely hot material in flares. Image Credit: NASA/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a significant solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the right – on Dec. 19, 2014. The image shows a subset of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the extremely hot material in flares. Image Credit: NASA/SDO

Cette vidéo diffusée par la Nasa montre une éruption solaire "significative" filmée par un de ses satellites le 19 décembre 2014.

Sur les images du satellite Solar Dynamics Observatory, on constate une activité à la surface du soleil et des projections de matière, qui mesurent la plupart du temps des centaines de milliers de kilomètres.


The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:24 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

Laliberté E, Adair EC, Hobbie SE (2012) Estimating Litter Decomposition Rate in Single-Pool Models Using Nonlinear Beta Regression. PLoS ONE 7(9): e45140.

23 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

Scheibe A, Gleixner G (2014) Influence of Litter Diversity on Dissolved Organic Matter Release and Soil Carbon Formation in a Mixed Beech Forest. PLoS ONE 9(12): e114040.

23 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

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23 Décembre 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie