Associate Editor Natalie Cooper introduces our exciting new cross-journal Special Feature ‘Leveraging Natural History Collections to Understand the Impacts of Global Change‘. Below you can find out all about the scope of the Special Feature and how to submit your manuscript proposal.

Natural history museums are great. And I’m not just saying that because I work at one! They’re the place most of us get our first experiences of the diversity of the wider world, giving us a close up look at nature in our local areas and beyond, and inspiring many of us to become scientists. But the true value of museums, and other places like herbaria, seed banks and tissue banks, are their natural history collections. At the Natural History Museum London where I work, we have over 80 million specimens, only a tiny fraction of which are on display. These collections form a snapshot of Life on Earth, providing us with all kinds of information about organisms and ecosystems, both past and present.

Our new Special Feature on “leveraging natural history collections to understand the impacts of global change” aims to showcase research using natural history collections to highlight how species distributions, interactions, and phenotypes respond to global change across time scales. This Special Feature will comprise articles in Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Ecology, as well as Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

At MEE we are interested in all kinds of methods papers that fit within the scope of the Special Feature. We will consider Research, Review, Applications and Practical tools article types.

We would love to see papers that propose new methods and/or tools for using natural history collections data, databases, samples, and specimens to ask questions about global change, and papers that highlight novel ways to voucher ecological data in collections that generate opportunities for future research. There is a treasure trove of data in collections, and finding innovative new ways of using it is of great interest to the ecological community.

Another area of interest is in how we might deal with the methodological challenges inherent in using collections data to study global change. Collections are often biased towards certain parts of the world, they tend to over-represent some species and under-represent others, and are also biased towards individuals with certain phenotypes. All these issues limit the utility of these data, so new methods or tools for identifying problems and dealing with them, or expansions of existing methods for doing so, would be of interest.

We look forward to seeing your contributions!

Contributing to the Special Feature

Manuscript proposals can be submitted via this online form, deadline 1 June. If your proposal is accepted, your manuscript must be submitted by 1 November 2021.

Manuscripts will then be subject to the same rigorous peer review process as any other submission and must meet our requirements of novelty and broad relevance for an audience of ecologists and/or evolutionary biologists. If not considered appropriate for the Special Feature, manuscripts can still be considered as normal submissions.

Post provided by Natalie Cooper. Photos by India Stephenson.