The final issue of the year is now available online!
One of this month’s articles, ‘Calculating the ecological impacts of animal-borne instruments on aquatic organisms’ by Todd Jones et al., was picked up by the press after the University of British Columbia published the press release ‘Tagging aquatic animals can disrupt natural behaviour‘. Todd also summarises his study in an accompanying video which can be viewed on the Methods YouTube channel.
There are 2 freely available application articles included in this issue: ‘Animal social network inference and permutations for ecologists in R using asnipe’ and ‘SIDIER: substitution and indel distances to infer evolutionary relationships’, in addition to 2 open access articles: ‘SOAPBarcode: revealing arthropod biodiversity through assembly of Illumina shotgun sequences of PCR amplicons’ and ‘Oligotyping: differentiating between closely related microbial taxa using 16S rRNA gene data’.
About the cover: The cover image shows a green turtle (Chelonia mydas), hovering over a reef, off the Kona coast of Hawaii, USA. Evolutionary adaptations have allowed large, air-breathing, macro-vertebrates to invade the marine environment where they have successfully navigated the oceans for 50-100 million years. These adaptations led to streamlined bodies and efficient thrust producing flippers which have permitted marine animals, such as turtles, to make transoceanic migrations between breeding and foraging grounds or as developing juveniles in oceanic gyres. It is therefore not surprising that the hydrodynamics of their body forms are sensitive to animal-borne attachments (e.g., satellite transmitters). The energetic cost of carrying transmitters and the effects to the animal’s behavior, ecology, and physiology, however, are rarely considered, let alone quantified. In ‘Calculating the ecological impacts of animal-borne instruments on aquatic organisms’ the authors used marine turtles as model aquatic organisms and conducted wind tunnel experiments to measure the fluid drag of various marine turtle body types with and without commercially available electronic tags. Then, using concepts of fluid dynamics, they derived a universal equation estimating drag impacts from instruments across marine taxa.
Photo © Michael Carey.