Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’re launching a new article type for Methods in Ecology and Evolution: Practical Tools. Like our Applications articles, Practical Tools will be short papers (up to 3000 words). They’ll focus on new field techniques, equipment or lab protocols. From this point forward, our Applications papers will solely focus on software and code.

Practical tools need to clearly demonstrate how tools designed for specific systems or problems can be adapted for more general use. Online supporting information can include specific instructions, especially for building equipment. You can find some examples of Applications that would now fit into this article type here and here.

To help launch our new article type, we asked four of our Associate Editors – Pierre Durand, Graziella Iossa, Nicolas Lecomte and Andrew Mahon – to put together a Virtual Issue of papers about Field Methods that have previously been published in the journal. All of the articles in ‘Practical Tools: A Field Methods Virtual Issue‘ will be free to everyone for the next month. You can find out a bit more about each of the four sections of the Virtual Issue below.

Practical Tools: A Field Methods Virtual Issue

Field methods in ecology and evolution are the central pillars of robust results and extrapolation across space and time scales. To tackle the variety of ecosystems and research questions, field methods are extremely diverse, from simple but effective methods (e.g. banding/marking) to elaborate and intensive (e.g. eDNA).

This methodological diversity is both a blessing and a challenge: a blessing to match the diversity of life yet a challenge to remain comparable, be subject to technological advances or to be able to merge various results in a comprehensive output. Our latest virtual issue flags up recent work published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution using field methods from applied and theoretical ecology. We chose four non-exclusive themes (Animal Tracking, DNA Methods, Monitoring, and Sampling) and illustrate them with both terrestrial and aquatic field studies.

Animal Tracking

The first theme focuses on advances in animal tracking, such as solar geolocators to study animal migration and stable isotopes for ecological forensics but also choice flumes for aquatic chemical ecology, vocal communication methods, and a review of the most appropriate statistical methods and sampling design to detect habitat selection at fine scale.

DNA Methods

The DNA methods theme begins with a user-friendly general field guide to a range of methodologies. The remaining publications provide examples of how they are used in different setting. These include the versatile HyRAD-X method for extracting genomic information from ancient DNA, a case study monitoring spawning activity in an endangered freshwater fish and mitochondrial metagenomics of arthopods. The last two publications describe how the processing of RAD-seq data impacts the inferences made and how natural population data can be obtained using minimally invasive swabs.


The third theme within this virtual issue includes studies that focus on monitoring and how applicable tools are both evaluated for use and applied in various systems. Studies presented here use cutting edge methods ranging from metabarcoding to RAD-Seq applications, and examine organisms from a number of different systems.


Finally, the fourth theme complements the virtual issue by addressing some critical questions of sampling in the field. Perhaps a central question is how many more samples should be collected for both robust results and logistical feasibility. Here again, we highlight papers that cover various angles of field ecology and evolution while using various spatial and temporal scales.


All of the articles in ‘Practical Tools: A Field Methods Virtual Issue‘ will be freely available for a limited time.

You can now submit Practical Tools articles to Methods in Ecology and Evolution for consideration.