We love committees in academia – there’s a committee for everything and the plant and animal matrix databases COMPADRE & COMADRE are no exception. Ecology is increasingly collaborative and the resources we require are pulled together from numerous sources and make use of diverse knowledge and skill sets for their compilation and use so committee meetings are the best way to have short, intense and productive work sessions. I have been to two COMPADRE/COMADRE core committee meetings, exactly one year apart. The first one was in a way the most exciting, as we planned the release of the COMPADRE database with a coincident paper in Journal of Ecology. The most recent meeting was no less important as we planned the release of COMADRE (animal matrix database) later this year and two more papers, but given our experience with COMPADRE, there is less adrenaline involved than last year!
Our discussions this year revolved around the future and sustainability of COMPADRE and COMADRE. We are transitioning from several years of support from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research to a more distributed funding system and will be seeking new funding opportunities over the next couple of years. The MPIDR has been instrumental in getting the databases up and running and in the public domain. Our challenge now is to ensure the quality and ease of use of the current data and to continue to add new matrices as they are produced.
Finally – what do you do when you’re at a committee meeting and have three hours of unprepared lectures on herbivory to write for delivery the following week? You crowd-source your task and get everyone at dinner to give you their favourite herbivore story! We heard about bison saliva, the homing abilities of snails, plants with adaptations to extinct herbivores, an unexpected role of hairiness in grasses, digestibility of C4 vs. C3 plants and the aphid mustard bomb.