Latest issue and other articles

A dragonfly

Cover image for issue 3.4 © Dennis Paulson.

Issue 3.4

Our latest issue covers an impressive array of subjects: from metabarcoding (with associated presentation), to population genetics and population monitoring (with video explaining a microphone array system). Modelling and monitoring dispersal also features heavily with four articles, one of which is accompanied by a video for a novel telemetry system to track wild animals. Articles also include topics such as transient dynamics, a review on hormone assay, phylogenetic comparative analysis, stable isotopes (featuring our cover article), plant physiology and finally, statistical methods.

About the cover

Stable-isotope ratios measured in migrating animals have proven to be of great value in understanding migration. For example, when a dragonfly emerges from the water, the isotope signature in that water body is fixed in its wing tissues, which thus provide information about its geographic origin. In A dragonfly (δ2H) isoscape for North America: a new tool for determining natal origins of migratory aquatic emergent insects,  Keith Hobson, David Soto, Dennis Paulson, Leonard Wassenaar and John Matthews compared the isotope value from dragonfly wings of known origin with spatially explicit isoscapes based on water isotopes in precipitation. The relationship was strong, confirming the value of the method to study dragonfly migration.

One of the species used in the analysis was Pachydiplax longipennis. This individual was photographed at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, Oklahoma. Photo © Dennis Paulson.

Early View articles

Also, these recently accepted articles have appeared on Early View:

Rapid determination of comparative drought tolerance traits: using an osmometer to predict turgor loss point by Megan K. Bartlett, Christine Scoffoni, Rico Ardy, Ya Zhang, Shanwen Sun, Kunfang Cao and Lawren Sack

Free application: taxonstand: An r package for species names standardisation in vegetation databases by Luis Cayuela, Íñigo Granzow-de la Cerda, Fabio S. Albuquerque and Duncan J. Golicher

Projecting species’ range expansion dynamics: sources of systematic biases when scaling up patterns and processes by Greta Bocedi, Guy Pe’er, Risto K. Heikkinen, Yiannis Matsinos and Justin M. J. Travis

Review: Temporal dynamics and network analysis by Benjamin Blonder, Tina W. Wey, Anna Dornhaus, Richard James and Andrew Sih

Related

New MEE article featured in Faculty of 1000

Some bands across a map

Map of the United States, showing the study area

Another of our recent articles, Assessing transferability of ecological models: an underappreciated aspect of statistical validation, by Seth Wenger and Julian Olden, has recently been highlighted on Faculty of 1000. F1000 is a platform providing post-publication peer-review and selecting only the most important articles in biology and medicine. Just 2% of published articles are highlighted on Faculty of 1000 each month.

Ben Bolker and Michael McCoy, Faculty of 1000 reviewers, note of Wenger and Olden’s article:

The authors show that allowing for spatial variability can provide a better assessment of transferability (a form of out-of-sample accuracy).
This lesson, delivered with a good deal of common sense, reminds us more generally that model selection and assessment tools can never be magic bullets, but must be tempered with an awareness of the scope and limitations of the data.

Read more about this article in a previous post by Bob O’Hara.

Related:

Methods in the press

Two articles have been recently highlighted in the press.

Iain Stott, Dave Hodgson and Stuart Townley, University of Exeter, have developed Popdemo, a new software tool for helping prioritise efforts in species conservation. As well as determining which species need our help, it will also be useful in pest control and sustainable harvesting. The University press release was picked up by a variety of websites, including Phys.org and eScienceNews.

 

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Source: Johnson/Speare, Public Domain

Science Daily, yesterday reported that preserved frogs hold clue to deadly pathogen. Katy Richards-Hrdlicka, University of Yale, and author of an article just appeared in Methods in Ecology and Evolution said:

“I have long proposed that the millions of amphibians maintained in natural-history collections around the world are just waiting to be sampled”

Katy developed a new method for charting the history of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, an infectious pathogen driving many species to extinction.

Related

popdemo: an R package for population demography using projection matrix analysis
by Iain Stott, Dave Hodgson and Stuart Townley

Extracting the amphibian chytrid fungus from formalin-fixed specimens
by Katy Richards-Hrdlicka

Issue 3.3

Rosefinch with geolocator tag

Cover image for issue 3.3
© Germán Garcia – CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

About the issue

Issue 3.3 contains an amazing number of extra features: three videos, one podcast and one Powerpoint presentation. The topics in the issue range from DNA barcoding, surveys, measuring diversity, population and movement modelling and includes five free applications.

About the cover

Recently developed light-weighed tracking devices for positioning through light intensity pattern (‘geolocation’) have begun to greatly improve our knowledge of animal migration. However, the analysis of geolocator data is impeded by many factors potentially affecting light levels and thus, ultimately the determination of positions. Herein, weather and vegetation are major factors altering the light regime experienced by the animals. The picture shows a Common Rosefinch (Carpodactus erythrinus) featured with a 0.5 gram geolocator device.

In Geolocation by light: accuracy and precision affected by environmental factors Simeon Lisovski and colleagues demonstrated the effect of weather, topography and vegetation on the measurement of day/night length, time of solar midnight/noon and the resulting position estimates using light measurements from stationary geolocators at known places and from geolocators mounted on birds.

Related

Recent content and new video

Lots of exciting content has recently gone online.

Firstly, two interesting new applications (as always free): simapse, simulation maps for ecological niche modelling in Python and nadiv, an R package for estimating non-additive genetic variances in animal models.

Also, two research articles. In the first, Julien Beguin and colleagues introduce an alternative procedure for fitting Bayesian hierarchical spatial models (BHSM) with quite general spatial covariance structures. This procedure uses integrated nested Laplace approximations (INLA) as an alternative to MCMC. In the second, Martin Lavoie, Jen Owens and Dave Risk present a new method for real-time monitoring of soil CO2 efflux.This is attractive because of its low cost and low power consumption compared to traditional methods.

Lastly, Dan Mennill and co-authors show us an affordable, portable, wireless microphone array for spatial monitoring of animal ecology and behaviour. They accompany their article with a nice short video:

MEE article featured in Faculty of 1000

Great recognition for one of our recent articles: Distance-based multivariate analyses confound location and dispersion effects by David Warton, Stephen Wright and Yi Wang, on multivariate analysis in ecology.

Warton and colleagues’ article has recently been highlighted on Faculty of 1000, a platform providing post-publication peer-review and selecting only the most important articles in biology and medicine. Just 2% of published articles are highlighted on Faculty of 1000 each month.

Ferdinando Boero and Stanislao Bevilacqua, Faculty of 1000 reviewers, said of Warton and colleagues’ article:

We strongly recommend reading this article because, beyond technical issues, it stimulates reflections on our consciousness of limits of statistical tools, which is often overwhelmed by our addiction to their routine application.

The article is also accompanied by a free application and a really great video:

Related:

New associate editors

Busy month at Methods, we are very pleased to announce that five new associated editors have just joined our journal: Olivier Gimenez, CNRS, France, Luca Giuggoli, University of Bristol, UK, Darren Kriticos, CSIRO, Australia, Jessica Metcalf, University of Oxford, UK,  and Helene Muller-Landau, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.

Olivier is a population biologist with a background in biostatistics studying animal demography in wild populations.

Luca is a physicist with an interest in animal foraging processes and the formation of territorial and home range patterns, as well as many other processes where individual agents move and interact collectively.

Darren is an ecological modeller with interests centred on theoretical and applied invasion ecology, especially invasive pests.

Jessica is an evolutionary ecologist at the Department of Zoology with an interest in disease, human demography and parasite evolution.

Finally, Helene is a plant ecologist with an interest in plant community and ecosystem ecology, especially of tropical forests.

Welcome on board Olivier, Luca, Jessica, Darren and Helene, we look forward to working with you!

Issue 3.2

Aerial photograph of a forest

Cover image for issue 3.2
© Getzin & Wiegand – Biodiversity Exploratories

About the issue

With topics ranging from phylogenetic analysis to statistics and distribution modelling, conservation, citizen science, surveys, genetic and demographic models to avian biology, our issue 3.2 should be of interest to most ecologists and evolutionary biologists. The issue also contains 5 free applications.

About the cover

This very high-resolution image of a beech-dominated forest in central Germany was taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at 250 meter above ground. In this photograph one can clearly recognize individual tree crowns and even smallest gaps. UAVs are increasingly used for ecological surveys because they provide extremely fine resolutions and thus allow the identification of previously undetected object details. Furthermore, UAVs can be considered as very cost-effective tools for the acquisition of data that can be used also very flexibly.

In Assessing biodiversity in forests using very high-resolution images and unmanned aerial vehicles Getzin, Wiegand and Schöning tested the hypothesis that gap-structural information on aerial images can be principally used for the ecological assessment of understorey plant diversity in forests. The authors demonstrate that spatially implicit information on gap shape metrics is indeed sufficient to reveal strong dependency between gap patterns as a filter for incoming light and plant biodiversity. The study highlights that understorey biodiversity can be actively controlled by the spatial quality, and not just quantity, of tree removal. Thus, even under the same quota of tree harvesting, the promotion of complex and irregularly shaped gaps may be beneficial to foster biodiversity in forests.

Related

BaSTA

Our latest video is a must-see for all researchers interested in aging:

Fernando Colchero, Owen Jones and Maren Rebke, Max Plank Institute for Demographic Research, present BaSTA – Bayesian Survival Trajectory Analysis. The authors have put together this beautiful video exploring research on ageing and and how to deal with incomplete data.

Starring Tim Coulson, Imperial College, Fernando Colchero, Owen Jones, Maren Rebke and James Vaupel, Max Plank Institute for Demographic Research, Annette Baudisch, MPIRG for Modeling the evolution of aging, Saskia Hin, Laboratory of historical demography, MPIDR.

It also shows special cuts at the end!

BaSTA is a free application.

Related

New podcast and video

In case you haven’t seen them, this month we have published a new podcast and video so far.

In our latest video, David Warton, The University of New South Wales, Australia, presents his ‘mvabund’ package on multivariate analysis. What makes this software different from other ones on multivariate analysis, is that it’s all about models that you can fit to your data. David explains how to look at the properties of your data and the common pitfalls in modelling multivariate data. He also goes through how to fit generalised linear models to your data. Do check David’s dancing!

Mvabund is a free application.

Movement ecology and habitat selection in human resource users

In their podcast with slideshow, Sarah Papworth and Nils Bunnefeld, Imperial College London, applied ecological methods and principles to GPS data on human movement to investigate the differences in movement ecology and habitat selection in human hunters and non hunters who return to a central place. Please note this is an mp4 file, to listen or download the mp3 file of the podcast click here.

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