Post provided by Natalie Cooper

Defining macroecology should be easy; it’s just ecology at large spatial scales, right? In reality though, it’s a little more complex than that. No-one agrees on exactly how large the spatial scale should be, and many studies that could be macroecology may also be defined as biogeography, landscape ecology, community ecology etc. Working at large spatial scales can also mean working at large temporal scales, often in deep-time. So there’s a lot of overlap with studies of macroevolution both on living and extinct species too.

This breadth of definitions means the BES Macroecology Special Interest Group (or BES Macro as we usually call it) has members with interests across ecology, evolution and palaeontology. Probably the most common statement at any of our events is “I’m not a macroecologist but…”. So, if you’re interested in broad-scale ecology and evolution, in a living or palaeo context, the SIG is for you, even if you don’t identify as a macroecologist!

BES Macro at #BES2018

The breadth of our membership often means we don’t have as many members at the BES Annual Meeting as most other SIGs. We still have plenty of things to recommend though.

Join the Macro SIG for something mulled on Monday night. ©Marco Verch
Join the Macro SIG for a glass of something mulled on Monday night. ©Marco Verch

First, on Monday evening we have our BES Macro SIG social! We’ll be meeting by the ICC exit at 19:30 to go to the Christmas Market seating area. There we’ll chat about macro topics and have a drink or two of something mulled (wine, apple juice, cider – whatever you prefer). Please come and join us! We will also be around at the Welcome Mixer on Sunday evening. Do come by and say hello; we’re a friendly bunch!

In terms of talks and sessions, there are five Macroecology and Biogeography sessions (in your programme, they’re Monday: S8, S18, Tuesday: S36, Wednesday: S46 and S55), and plenty of macro content in other sessions too. I think this is the most macroecology talks I’ve ever seen at an Annual Meeting. In fact, you could sit in macroecology talks all meeting (except for Tuesday 11am – lunch).

In the thematic sessions there’s plenty to whet the macroecology appetite. Most talks in the Microbial influence on climate change feedbacks (in Hall 1 on Monday from 10:30-12:30) and All creatures fast and slow (also in Hall 1, from 11:30-12:00 on Wednesday) are macro in scale. The Infectious disease ecology at the human-wildlife interface session (Hall 1 again, 15:30-17:30 on Monday) features a talk by Herwig Leirs on “Small mammals and One Health: linking ecology to human society”, a topic of great interest to the many disease macroecologists out there. In Advancing our understanding of long-term ecology (Tuesday 11:00-13:00 in, you guessed it, Hall 1) there are lots of macro-scale talks too. One highlight in that session will be a talk by plenary speaker at BES Macro 2017 and current BES Macro committee member Maria Dornelas on “Temporal change in biodiversity change in the Anthropocene”.

In the plenaries we’re excited to see Danielle Lee‘s plenary on “Building Bridges: Connecting Your Science to Your Communities” on Tuesday at 8.45am. Not macro per se, but very important for all of us.

BES Macro in 2019

Joint the Macro SIG in Nottingham next May for a meeting on SDMs
Joint the Macro SIG in Nottingham next May for a meeting on SDMs

Next year we will be running two events. In early May (exact dates tbc, but around the 6th) we’ll be holding a workshop on species distribution models (SDMs) at the University of Nottingham. It’ll cover the fundamentals of SDMs and more advanced topics such as joint SDMs, both in theory and practice.

From 4-5th July we’ll be holding our annual meeting at the gorgeous University of Exeter campus in Falmouth, Cornwall. The meeting will feature the usual short talks, posters, discussions and plenaries (including a student plenary). We’re also having an Early Career Researcher day on 3rd July featuring workshops on using videos for outreach, careers outside academia, and various transferable skills.

Keep an eye out on social media for more details of both. Information about both events will appear on the BES Events page once everything has been organised as well.

Want to Know More About the SIG?

To get involved with the SIG’s activities you can follow us on Twitter (@BESMacroecol), on Facebook, or join our mailing list by sending an email to Your email should have a blank subject header and in the body, the following text, ‘Join BESMACROECOLOGY’ along with your full name.

If you’re interested in joining the committee or have an idea for a future event please let us know, we’d love to hear from you!