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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Dutch Ecology Under Attack
3 May 2001 7:00 pm
In a cost-saving move, Leiden University in the Netherlands has proposed excising five sections--including two internationally prominent research groups--from its Institute of Evolutionary and Ecological Sciences. Rumors of the plan have already triggered howls of outrage from critics.
With its population of science students dwindling, the university has been forced to trim its math and science budget by 20%. Although math, chemistry, and physics have suffered the biggest enrollment drops, a strategic plan unveiled last week calls for evolution and ecology to bear the brunt of the cuts. Among the groups to be axed are animal ecology, led by Jacques van Alphen, and Hans Metz's theoretical evolutionary biology group. Both are well known for their research on speciation, host-parasite relationships, and evolutionary dynamics, says Stephen Stearns of Yale University, one of more than 100 scientists to fire off a letter of protest to the university. "Many of us have sent our best students" there, Stearns wrote. The decision is "shortsighted and gravely mistaken," adds evolutionary biologist Russell Lande of the University of California, San Diego.
The Leiden cuts mirror a national trend favoring molecular biology over other fields, Metz says. Ecology funding at Groningen University--the country's other top center for ecology--is dwindling as well, he points out. A university spokesperson responds that although some good research may be lost, the plan will help stimulate interdisciplinary research.