This is perspective

Citizen science power and challenges

Today (January 8 2018), a powerful image was shared with me via Facebook. Ken Kaufman posted screenshots of the distribution of Killdeer records on the island of Bermuda for January 2017 and January 2018, highlighting the huge difference in maximum numbers. 12 in 2017 versus 500 in 2018.

In his post, he describes and discusses the weather effects that may have resulted in the presence of so many Killdeer this year as opposed to past years. An amazing visual and it really shows how responsive eBird can be when we have significant impacts on an island scale.

But there is something he does not mention.

For a bird observation to be presented in eBird, you need three things. The bird must be there, the observer qualified to identify the bird must be there, and that observer has to be able and willing to enter that observation into eBird. These requirements are the same for any Citizen Science Database.

When we look into the data, there are about 7 observers that were responsible for this data in 2017 and the group did not change much in 2018. what did change was their effort. They went to more places in the first week of January 2018 than in all of January 2018 and they conducted more surveys. And although the group did not change much, there were several new observers in the data set in 2018 and those observers went to locations that the rest of the group did not visit.

This means that:

  1. maybe those Killdeer were not there
  2. maybe those Killdeer were there, but no observers were there to identify them. (nobody went or observers went and did not see any, or observers saw 5 bazillion Killdeer but did not know what they were*)
  3. OR the observers went, saw killdeer, and maybe even recorded the observation, but did not enter their observations in eBird.

Part of what I see when I look a this data is a need to work on our engagement within the local community. bird watching is still stigmatized as an activity for "OWLS" (Old White birders with Leisure time and of course Scientists)

If we could engage local bird watchers at the primary, high school or university level across the Caribbean, the data will be more consistent, and of a much higher quality, Churches should have a bird watching group, every boy and girl scout group should have their birding badge for the entire group, The General Certificate in Secondary Education for Science should have identification of 20-30 birds, BJC and BGCSE exams and practical research can include bird observations from your island.

God forbid, but should something happen to Peter Adhemar, Andrew Dobson, or Paul Watson, who contributed most of the birdwatching effort that Bermuda saw in 2017, what would happen to their bird diversity records?

This is a new year, next time you go to one of our islands, take an extra pair of binoculars and share them with a student, your taxi driver, and share your enthusiasm. show them how to start an ebird account. If you live on the island and are retired, go ask a science teacher if you can get into their classroom, just once and engage with their students.

I hope to see lots more observers on all of our islands this year.

*I am not sure bazillion is a number and I do not think the accepted global population of Killdeer nears this number.


Quick and easy heat map

Bird Species Heat Maps

Here is a heat map of Common Ground Dove Observations exported from a Google Fusion Table. Keep in mind, this shows where they were seen before May 2016, not necessarily where it can be seen. You should be able to toggle street map and satellite image and scroll around the island or zoom in and out. This data is based on eBird Data which is freely available online and you can see the eBird heat map at COGD on eBird. So, if the data and maps are freely available online, why make a map of my own? Mostly to see if and how it could be done and how much it would cost. Time, money, knowledge. The knowledge to create the map was also freely available online, but I had not been introduced to google fusion tables until about a year ago. THe process costs nothing! No website hosting, just a google email account and no special subscription. Also, the map loads fast and it is one click shareable. You ask me for locations with Ground doves and I say ok. Boop beep boop, here you go to the link and that is all you have. No distractions. The web map I created was also immediately available to colleagues in several countries and most importantly, remote Bahamian islands with cellular data access on their phones shared via social media and email. Colleagues that were not near a computer. These are some of the real world challenges we see with accessing data about our country and natural resources online in the Bahamas, Caribbean and Developing world. Freely avalable does not necessarily mean accessible because of other issues like internet or computer access.

There are however several downsides to this avenue.

Fast means less content. No map labels, citations etc. and a visitor cannot further explore the data. Scientists really want this when they are sitting at a desk. There is a more robust map creator through the Google Earth Engine API, but you have to learn to write code.

In the end, anyone can bust out a map like this in about 10-15 minutes if they have their data ready. Think about a map with incidences of invasive species (MTIASIC crew), Bahamian snake sightings (Looking at you Scott Johnson) or Bahama Parrots of Nassau (Lynn, Shelley). The beauty of this is ownership. We can start telling our own stories quickly, with data. And if someone wants to see the data, we can share that too.

I hope you enjoyed this map. Contact me for details on the process by commenting on my blog or the social media account you saw this on.

Common Ground Dove observations heat map

My digital house

How do you describe social media to your students?

I use the house analogy.

My digital world is a house I build with social media. Each platform is a room within that house. Though they each have doors and windows that open to the outside world, I choose what people can see through those windows and doorways, whether or not I allow them inside and once inside, how far I allow them to go. Even if I let them in, I may still have my most precious possessions locked away like certain family photos. Or only allow certain people further in.

Each room has its purpose.
My art rooms include video on my Youtube channel, or my Youpic feed.

My workshops include my LinkedIn, Academia, and ResearchGate profiles.

Some of my rooms are connected so guests can move between those spaces as my facebook, twitter, and instagram profiles may post to one another and people can follow links from one to the others.

Most importantly, I remind students, if they want to be found for graduate study, internship or career opportunities, they need to have an address, where they can be found. Skype, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Groupme, and others also provide a kind of home phone for your digital home so colleagues, friends and family can reach you.

But just as importantly, if there is something you do not want your boss, teacher, or parents to see, don’t put it in these public rooms.

follow the links to connect with me let’s collaborate.



Sustainability and perspective

my friend Quentin asks in response to "Sustainability and Perspective"

How do you balance "trying to make a difference" with awareness of others and sensitivity to the full impact of one’s actions?

Quentin,There are a few ways I seek this balance.

Firstly, I use my doer’s code.

I am a human scientist and photographer. I live by my doers code. 1: Do something. 2: Do what you enjoy. 3: Do what you are good at or get good at it. 4: Do what makes a difference. 5: Do what is right.

secondly, I ask myself how much I know about the people I am speaking with, how much I have seen them (% of the day/year/semester) this represents how little of their life experience I have shared. usually infinitesimally small in comparison.

Thirdly, I judge my response by the ethics of the child substitute. (a measure I have developed and made my own.) how would my treatment of any other thing, animal, person, community be received if I substitute small children for the object of my actions?

for example: immigration: these children are seeking to escape persecution, death, torture, looking to be educated and be successful. should we close the doors on these children? knowingly leave them to face death, dismemberment, and every violation of freedom? or should we welcome these children with open arms, treat them as our own, provide them with every measure of freedom and success as is necessary to allow them to grow without fear, injustice, and pain.

Scientific Research: mist netting birds: we know these children pass through this area regularly. let’s set up nets to trap them. We can hold them in cloth bags for a while until we can take their blood and weigh them. yes they will scream and struggle for a bit, but when in the bags they will calm down. and when we are done we will let them go to continue their lives. it’s good. wiht this knowledge we can protect many thousands of these children. it’s for science.

Of course this is very simplistic and subjective, emotional and extreme.
For those that disagree, would you prefer, extremes in the pursuit of kindness or to continue to treat all others as if they are not equally worthy of respect as we are?


Sustainability and perspective

Today I saw a really interesting video. You should watch it before you continue.

From the perspective of the person in the video and CNBC, Lionfish are bad for the environment, because they negatively impact native fish populations. This in turn impacts the coral reefs. Norman’s is helping by removing Lionfish from that ecosystem, commodifying it and encouraging people to consume it.

As you watched the video were you able to appreciate the noble sensibility of such a sustainable venture? Turn an invasive species into a resource. You save the ecosystem and turn a profit (even if the goal is not to make the most money possible.
Here are some issues I have with the video.

1: THe Exumas are a part of the Bahamas, which is not a US territory and The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is the oldest Marine and Terrestrial protected area in the world.
2: A Bahamian fishing license and an international seafood export license to take the Lionfish out of the country, do not seem practical in this case and from my research it does not seem as if he had either.
3: the transportation of 40 lbs of Lionfish out of the Bahamas into the USA and to the restaurant, is not sustainable on a small scale and because of the way Lionfish are caught and processed, not sustainable without a boutique style food experience, which not very one can provide.
4: he makes no mention of any Bahamian collaboration.

The sum impact in my opinion is negative. From a social perspective, impacting the sovereignty of the Bahamas, with no mention of the local and (Caribbean) regional efforts to eradicate the Lionfish, this is unsustainable. You are more likely to get pushback from local fishers who see a resource being stolen from a small Black Country, to enrich yet another foreigner. (Don’t kill the messenger, this is the sentiment in the Bahamas when a video like this does the rounds on the internet.)
From an economic perspective, paying the divers $5 a fish is definitely nice in the Florida panhandle, kudos. Again, the cost to risk for local Bahamians may be different. $100,000 in a year is also 8-10 times what most Bahamians make in a year. How can we scale this appropriately? How can we diversify this industry so it is not reliant on a single species fad?
Finally, environmentally, it’s awesome to teach people to eat invasive species as destructive as the Lionfish, but, right now climate change is as big an issue or bigger. Shipping Lionfish from a poor(er) country (or region within the USA) to the richer locations where the market is available, perpetuates a system of exploitation. And when the industry or species is unregulated or underregulated it also exposes other resources to excessive exploitation. The Bahamas cannot afford this socially, Economically or Environmentally the way it was presented.

Ancilleno Davis, M.Sc


Connections: Re: Actual Weekly Riff

​So a friend has a weekly email I subscribe to and he quote another of his friends as saying "Learning is all about connections".
Did you say "duh."?

It seems to make sense to me. this is the only way I seem to learn. My memory sucks, but I do pretty well in school because my brain connects things well I believe.

Right now, I am working heavily with maps in ArcGIS and every time I look at the interface, I imagine a drawing on multiple layers of wax paper. On the base layer you paint the background, then you add layers drawing things that are closer and closer to the fore. For me, this connection is essential to how I create my maps.

as I teach my students in Biology 115 labs I often incorporate shared experiences of going to the doctor, taking antibiotics etc. so the students can make those connections for themselves as well.

When I speak to others about the difficulties of international students, I try to connect social justice first to their experiences along the lines of minority groups they are a part of, then I point out the similarities between their historical oppression and the contemporary treatment of international students and scholars. this seems to work exceptionally well.

A fact no matter how well researched is difficult for most people to accept without some connection to their previously held beliefs.

But also,

I learn daily from you, my friends, my followers, your emails and comments, our conversations and arguments. So I guess everything I do is about the connections. what new connection have you made recently? what connection continues to feed your learning and affect your experience?


(Clean) Air supposed to be free

During our geography class recently we got to web chat live with @amrit_sharma, the guy behind #AskSmokey on twitter.
You can tweet “#AskSmokey what’s it like in #Delhi” or hundreds of other cities around the world. And you will get this nice little air quality report. And guess what? It is emoji based. 🙂
So now instead of just walking outside and getting a lungful, you can check on your computer first to know if walking to work is really as healthy as you thought. allows you to browse the map and see what the air quality is like it even marks some streets during high pollution times like rush hour.

The two major downsides for me are, 1: disaster voyeurism. Really, air pollution is a horrible problem. *cough,cough* though the website and interactive twitter bot are great for raising awareness, and the link on to earn more via email is really well written, but there is little you can do via the website or twitter feed to actually impact the problem.
And 2: coverage. Everytime I see something cool like this I search for the Bahamas. Don’t waste your time yet. We are not on the map. This is important because the dump on New Providence is still smoldering. But also, this means that some countries may be overly represented with negative or positive air quality reports.

The root of the data is the open air quality data from They get data from 62 countries according to their website and less than 2000 locations. The data is open access and represents different pollutants and indices. Amrit makes it accessible by peeling the indices back to emoji style “heart eyes and happy breathing” or “skull and crossbones die from the black lung” visuals.

If you know of a place collecting air quality data, recommend them on Maybe sponsor one for your school. Until then, I hope you can breathe easy where ever you are.


Ancilleno Davis, PhD. Candidate
Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology- Miami University, Oxford Ohio


Hero and heroin

This happened on October 8th, 2017. The following account is true and accurate to the best of my memory, but may cause emotional distress to those with similar experiences related to drug overdose or first responders. I am writing for catharsis. 

Tonight I am still shaken up. It is 10:30 pm. He started breathing again sometime around noon I think.

I think I should feel like a hero, but this was nothing like the movies. 

I cried afterward in front of the cops and the paramedics that looked like undergrad volunteers. I zoned out while I was doing cpr and I seemed to only come back into focus to tell my body to switch from rescue breaths to chest compressions. Was I crying the whole time? 

I can’t really remember.

I also cannot forget. He has a friendly face and he is so helpful and kind. Loves his mom. His friendly face was starting to turn blue. As I pushed down on his chest I remembered our conversations and working with him and his mom. 

I remember the sounds. 

The girl screaming “He’s doing CPR”. 

The dispatcher telling her to stay, to take the cell phone off speakerphone because she (the dispatcher) could not hear. 

My voice was counting. If I counted out loud, I could not hear them and maybe that would be good enough for the dispatcher. 

The girls says ” he’s doing CPR”. I don’t know her name. She did not even know the name of the street. She does not know my name. “He is doing CPR”. Who is “he”? 

Oh. It’s me. I am doing cpr. 21, 22,23… I am trying to hold it together. 

This is crazy. It’s Sunday. We are cleaning and cooking. We have guests coming over. I was going to have some Cruzan coconut rum and Ginger Ale later on. But right now, I just want him to breathe. “Please God, help me help him.” No pulse. Not breathing. Keep going. “Please God, help me help him.” I realize, I have never prayed so hard. Maybe I have never prayed so earnestly.

The dispatcher is saying “they are on the scene. Can you let them in?”

The girl says she can’t stay. She has to go. She “can’t be here”.



I am alone with him. The dispatcher is saying something. “Is he breathing?”

I can hear his stomach sloshing with the compressions. That last breath was too much I heard some air enter his stomach. I think that is why the sloshing is so much louder. He’s definitely less blue. 27, 28, 29, 30. 

Stop. Look. His face is flushed red. I can see his pulse in his neck. His chest and stomach are rising and falling slowly. It is so quiet. Was I screaming? He’s alive.

Dispatcher “They are on scene. Can you let them in?”

Me: “His heart is beating! He’s Breathing!” I am shouting now.

I let the officers in and direct them to him, before going next door to tell Alma what happened.

I come back over a few times to give my statement to the officers, but I avoid going back toward the bathroom. A few minutes later he is sitting up on a gurney, being put in the ambulance. I feel scared, terrified. I definitely don’t feel like a hero.

I later find out it was a drug overdose. Heroine.

I just happened to be there. I am no hero. Heroin.


Jokey jokes 9/18/2017

Stephen King made a new horror movie about a clown… but it’s just another ITeration.

If you like jokes like these (some are better) check my blog.


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