The Robert May Prize is awarded annually for the best paper published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution by an Early Career Researcher. We’re delighted to announce that the 2017 winner is Jonathan Henshaw, for his article ‘A unified measure of linear and nonlinear selection on quantitative traits.

The standard approach to quantifying natural selection, developed by Lande and Arnold, does not allow for comparable metrics between linear (i.e. selection on the mean phenotype) and nonlinear (i.e. selection on all other aspects of the phenotypic distribution, including variance and the number of modes) selection gradients. Jonathan Henshaw’s winning submission provides the first integrated measure of the strength of selection that applies across qualitatively different selection regimes (e.g. directional, stabilizing or disruptive selection).

This new unified method provides three important advancements. First, one can compare the overall strength of selection across traits, taxa or environments that differ qualitatively in their selection regime. This makes the method ideal for comparative and meta-analyses. Second, one can compare the strength of linear and nonlinear selection on a single trait. Third, one can quantify the strength of selection when the fitness surface is complex in shape (e.g. selection for bimodal beak size in Darwin’s finches). None of these analyses is possible under the standard framework.

During his undergraduate studies in mathematics, Jonathan took a course in evolutionary biology and was hooked. After an Honours year on the evolution of fertilisation in marine invertebrates, he completed a PhD at the Australian National University with Professors Hanna Kokko and Michael Jennions. Jonathan is currently on parental leave in Graz, Austria. In August 2018, he will begin a postdoc with Professor Adam Jones at the University of Idaho (USA), where he will study sexual selection and the evolution of sex roles.

In addition to Jonathan, the following Early Career Researchers have been highly commended for their innovative articles:

– Hannah M. Specht from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, for her article ‘Occupancy surveys with conditional replicates: An alternative sampling design for rare species. The video ‘Conditional Occupancy Design Explained‘ has more information about this article.

Andrew Martin from the University of Oxford, for his article ‘The Global Pollen Project: a new tool for pollen identification and the dissemination of physical reference collections‘. The blog post ‘Tiny Grains, Big Data: The Global Pollen Project‘ has more information about this article.

The above 3 articles are included in a free virtual issue, along with all of the winning and highly commended articles from the other four British Ecological Society journals Early Career Researcher Awards.

And you can find out about some of the articles shortlisted for the prize here.