Blogs

PATH EXTINCTION & REINFORCEMENT

The development and change over time (evolution) of geomorphic, soil, hydrological, and ecosystems (Earth surface systems; ESS) is often, perhaps mostly, characterized by multiple potential developmental trajectories. That is, rather than an inevitable monotonic progression toward a single stable state or climax or mature form, often there exist multiple stable states or potentially unstable outcomes, and multiple possible developmental pathways. Until late in the 20th century, basic tenets of geosciences, ecology, and pedology emphasized single-path, single-outcome conceptual models such as classical vegetation succession; development of mature, climax, or zonal soils; or attainment of steady-state or some other form of stable equilibrium. As evidence accumulated of ESS evolution with, e.g., nonequilibrium dynamics, alternative stable states, divergent evolution, and path dependency, the "headline" was the existence of > 2 potential pathways, contesting and contrasting with the single-path frameworks. Now it is appropriate to address the question of why the number of actually observed pathways is relatively small.The purpose of this post is to explore why some developmental sequences are rare vs. common; why some are non-recurring (path extinction), and some are reinforced.

Brad's Blurb

This month I will start out with a couple of really lame jokes.

*What did one snowman say to another?  Is it just me or do you smell carrots!

**What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?  Frostbite.

***Where do snowmen keep their money?  In a snow bank. 

Do you remember the time before computers?  Me neither.  If you are young enough, computers have been around your whole life.  If you are old enough, your memory is not as good as it used to be.  I fall in the latter category.  The Internet/Web for me is like my car; I use it all the time and expect it to work all the time, but I don’t really have any idea how it actually works.  Which leads me to some questions?  

-How did the Internet get started?  See 1

-Who’s in charge of it?   See 2

-What is the difference between the Web and the Internet? See 3

-Who is the keeper of all URLs (website addresses)? See 2

-How many websites exist?  See 4

-What are the top 10 websites based on traffic? See 5

1. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a system called the World Wide Web.  He then wrote the first web browser, server, and Web page.  He also wrote the first specifications for URLs, HTTP, and HTML. 

THE GEOMORPHOLOGICAL NICHE OF TREES

In a 2009 article I introduced the concept of a geomorphological niche, defined as the resources available to drive or support a particular geomorphic process (the concept has not caught on). The niche is defined in terms of a landscape evolution space (LES), given by

where H is height above a base level, rho is the density of the geological parent material, g is the gravity constant, and A is surface area. The k’s are factors representing the inputs of solar energy and precipitation, and Pgrepresents the geomorphically significant proportion of biological productivity (see this for the  background and justification).

BREAKAGE VS. UPROOTING & HILLSLOPE GEOMORPHOLOGY

Just published in Geomorphology:

Samonil, P., Danek, P., Adam, D., Phillips, J.D. 2017. Breakage or uprooting: how tree death affects hillslope processes in old-growth temperate forestsGeomorphology 299: 276-284. 

The abstract is below:

Posted 14 November 2017

 

Brad's Blurb

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Thanksgiving

I am going to use this edition to write about a family tradition that I am looking forward to during the Thanksgiving break-watching the film classic from director John Hughes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1988).  The movie stars John Candy and Steve Martin.  Although, not necessarily “one for the kids” based on some very colorful language (one particular scene between Steve Martin and a car rental agent), the movie has a memorable ending that might just leave you feeling a little contemplative about Thanksgiving.  Some other notables you might recognize with bit parts in the movie include: Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker, Ben Stein, Edie McClurg, Michael McKean, and Ruth De Sosa. 

Brad's Blurb

We have all been there at some time in our lives: We have started a new job that brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions.  At first you feel like you have zero idea of what you are doing, or even what you should be doing.  You are lost trying to figure where to find information you need, or exactly what the protocol is for using the breakroom microwave and coffee machine.  But soon, you get your feet underneath you and your confidence improves with each new day.   As a result, you start to receive praise from your colleagues on what great job you are doing.  From that point on (weeks or months) maybe the accolades come less often and you begin to wonder when the last time was that you were called a “lifesaver” and was commended for a “job well done.”  Cue the panic and dip in the rollercoaster.  We all experience something similar to this.  Getting comfortable in your job usually results in fewer compliments from your supervisors – which, unfortunately, can make you feel like you’re not as great as you once thought you were, or even worse, actually stagnating in your position.  But, rest assured, that’s likely not the case.  So here are, for what it’s worth – a few signs that you are an excellent employee, even if you don’t hear it on a routine basis. 

HOW COMPLEX CAN IT BE?

Back in 2006, novelist and country music singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman ran (unsuccessfully) for governor of Texas. His campaign slogan, a rather pointed reference to the fact that recent occupants of the office George W. Bush and Rick Perry were not the sharpest tools in the shed, was "how hard could it be?" I can't answer that, but I can answer, after a fashion, the question of how complex or simple an Earth surface system can be.

Brad's Blurb

LOCK YOUR DOORS AND SECURE YOUR VALUABLES WHEN AWAY FROM THE OFFICE!  Yesterday, one of our A&S advisors had a wallet stolen while they were away from the office. 

A friend in the College, Dr. Chana Akins (Department of Psychology), is conducting a survey on staff recognition for a UK leadership project and she would appreciate your help.  The survey should take less than five minutes of your time and it is anonymous.  She will present the results at a leadership conference later this year as well as to the A&S Faculty-Staff Collegiality Committee.  Chana welcomes your input in the survey before October 30.  The survey link is at Staff Appreciation Measures Survey

The annual UK United Way fundraising campaign is during the month of October.  Be on the lookout for more specific information about this and how you can choose to support in the days ahead.

Brad's Blurb

The Hidden Vault at Mount Rushmore

Just a light read here as the end of summer nears.  In September, I will re-focus on some professional development and staff topics.  If anybody has ideas or anything in particular that you would like me to touch on in future newsletters just let me know. 

One of America’s great national landmarks is Mount Rushmore National Monument.  There is nothing quite like “the faces” located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  If you have not had the opportunity to visit it, I hope that you can make your way there some day as it is well worth the trip.  This is not meant as an advertisement for South Dakota tourism, instead it is merely my way of highlighting an aspect of the park that is not widely known and has a remote connection to this year’s A&S Year of Civics & Citizenship in the 21st Century (Keys to our Common Future).  In the words of Mount Rushmore’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.”  Now for the rest of the story about that hidden vault.   

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