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Island biogeography’s strange moment in the spotlight

May 5, 2011

Probability model of bin Laden;s current location based on distance-decay theory at a global spatial scale. MIT International Review

This blog so rarely crosses paths with major global political events. Imagine my confusion and bewilderment when I got an email from a colleague that said something like, “this made me think of you,” and then had a link to a Fox news article. Actually, I thought her email account had been hacked, but I clicked the link anyway. I’m such a gullible sucker! (Thanks/hi Julia S.!)

Anyway, the news was that UCLA geography undergrads had written a paper in 2009 attempting to predict where bin Laden was hiding. And they used the theory of island biogeography to do it. They ended up not being right. But they were close enough for people to remember the paper and start writing about it again this week. Different outlets did this with varying degrees of breathlessness and accuracy.

What I’m curious about is, has island biogeography been used that way before? Has it ever effectively been used that way?

And lo, there is a place to ask those questions. The World’s science forum is taking questions for one of the UCLA professors, Thomas Gillespie.

If you want to read more,

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