Issue 9.2 is now online!

The February issue of Methods is now online!

This double-size issue contains six Applications articles (one of which is Open Access) and two Open Access research articles. These eight papers are freely available to everyone, no subscription required.

 Temperature Manipulation: Welshofer et al. present a modified International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) chamber design for year-round outdoor use in warming taller-stature plant communities up to 1.5 m tall.This design is a valuable tool for examining the effects of in situ warming on understudied taller-stature plant communities

 ZoonThe disjointed nature of the current species distribution modelling (SDM) research environment hinders evaluation of new methods, synthesis of current knowledge and the dissemination of new methods to SDM users. The zoon R package aims to overcome these problems by providing a modular framework for constructing reproducible SDM workflows.

 BEIN R Package: The Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN) database comprises an unprecedented wealth of cleaned and standardised botanical data. The bien r package allows users to access the multiple types of data in the BIEN database. This represents a significant achievement in biological data integration, cleaning and standardisation.

 patternize: patternize is an R package that quantifies variation in colour patterns obtained from image data. Van Belleghem et al. demonstrate that patternize can be used for quantification of the colour patterns in a variety of organisms by analysing image data for butterflies, guppies, spiders and salamanders.

 micropop: microPop simulates the dynamics and interactions of microbial populations by solving a system of ordinary differential equations that are constructed automatically based on a description of the system

 assignPopThis R package can evaluate the reliability of large genomic datasets for population discrimination and assignment, as well as allow their integration with non-genetic markers for the same purpose. It can benefit any researcher who seeks to use genetic or non-genetic data to infer population structure and membership of individuals.

The first Open Access article in this issue is Estimation of above-ground biomass of large tropical trees with terrestrial LiDAR by Gonzalez de Tanago et al. The authors present a terrestrial laser scanning quantitative structure model (TLS-QSM) method that accounts for individual tree biophysical structure more effectively than allometric models, providing more accurate and less biased above-ground biomass estimates for large tropical trees, independently of their morphology. It is non-destructive used for testing and calibrating new allometric models.

In the second Open Access article – A method for analysing small samples of floral pollen for free and protein-bound amino acids – Stabler et al. describe a method of microwave-assisted acid hydrolysis using low amounts of pollen that allows exploration of amino acid composition. It will allow researchers to explore the composition of amino acids in pollen and will aid research assessing the available nutrition to pollinating animals.

Our February issue also features articles on Ecosystems, Trophic Analysis, Community Ecology, Statistical Ecology, Degraded DNA, Disease Ecology and more.

This issue’s cover photo illustrates a common predator-prey interaction in northern temperature lakes; a female damselfly (Lestes sponsa) feeding on a hoverfly (Dasysyrphus sp) near Ry, Denmark. Damselflies are widespread predators in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Their aquatic larvae feed on other aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles, and even small fish, while adult life-stages feed on a range of species from both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Similar to the depicted damselfly, many predators have a broad diet, making it challenging to accurately describe their feeding ecology. Yet, determination of animal diets is critical to understanding species interactions, food web structure, and even ecosystem functioning.

The associated article – Diet tracing in ecology: Method comparison and selection – provides a guide for best practices of the most common dietary tracing methods. Nielsen et al. outline the most important conceptual considerations, discuss the advantages of method integration, and highlight future avenues for advancing diet tracing in ecology.

Photo: © Jens M. Nielsen

To keep up to date with Methods newest content, have a look at our Accepted Articles and Early View articles, which will be included in forthcoming issues.