Quantifying Animal Movement from Videos

Quantifying animal movement is central to research spanning a variety of topics. It’s an important area of study for behavioural ecologists, evolutionary biologists, ecotoxicologists and many more. There are a lot of ways to track animals, but they’re often difficult, especially for people who don’t have a strong background in programming.

Vivek Hari SridharDominique G. Roche and Simon Gingins have developed a new, simple software to help with this though: Tracktor. This package provides researchers with a free, efficient, markerless video-based tracking solution to analyse animal movement of single individuals and groups.

Vivek and Simon explain the features and strengths of Tracktor in this new video:

Read the full Methods in Ecology and Evolution article ‘Tracktor: Image‐based automated tracking of animal movement and behaviour
(No Subscription Required).

Download and start using Tracktor via GitHub.

BES Journal Blogs Round Up: January 2019

It’s already been a busy 2019 for the six BES journal blogs. We’ve covered topics from leaving the nest to sustainable food production, stress in academia to climate change. On Relational Thinking we learned that cats can’t trespass. And Animal Ecology in Focus taught us that some crabs steal food from plants.

Today we’re having a look back at some of last month’s highlights from across the blogs:

Relational Thinking – PEOPLE AND NATURE

Cats Can’t Trespass
This post was created by the author of one of our published papers. It’s a really creative and funny illustrated summary of their paper.

BES 2018: Field Notes from Birmingham
This post was written by our Associate Editor Andrea Belgrano and is his conference report on BES2018. It is an evocative and sensitive reflection on the meeting, where he compares the spiritual energy of the community to that of the Zen Buddhist Daruma Doll. Continue reading

New Associate Editor: Laura Graham

Today, we are pleased to announce the latest new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Laura Graham joins us from the University of Southampton, UK as an Applications Editor. You can find out a little more about her below.

Laura Graham

“I’m a quantitative ecologist interested in how anthropogenic changes such as climate change and habitat loss affect global ecosystems, and how this in turn affects human well-being. I develop computational methods for spatial ecology to facilitate the reproducible analysis of social-ecological systems and ecosystem services. I’m interested in using novel statistical methods and heterogeneous sources of data to answer applied and theoretical questions.” Continue reading

How to Assemble, Fill and Clean Metapopulation Microcosm Plates: Two Video Tutorials

Metapopulation Microcosm Plates (MMP) are devices which resemble 96-well microtiter plates in size and shape, but with corridors connecting the wells in any configuration desired. They can be used to culture microbial metapopulations or metacommunities with up to 96 habitat patches.

In these two video tutorials, Helen Kurkjian explains how you can assemble, fill and clean MMPs in your lab.

Continue reading

New Associate Editors

Two new Associate Editors are joining the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Board today: Sydne Record (Bryn Mawr College, USA) and Hao Ye (University of Florida, USA). They have both joined on a three-year term and you can find out more about them below.

Sydne Record

“My research incorporates knowledge of field-based natural history, ecological theory, statistics, remote sensing, and computer modeling to ask how abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic drivers structure biodiversity across a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. I am particularly interested in understanding how differences in scale (i.e., spatial, temporal, levels of biological organization) influence inferences about biological systems and contribute to uncertainty in models. I enjoy thinking about biota with different life histories.”

Sydne is currently working on understanding drivers of community assembly across several taxonomic groups including ants, trees, and small mammals. In many of these projects, she leverages spatially and/or temporally replicated data sets collected by networks of sites (e.g., the Long Term Ecological Research [LTER] and National Ecological Observatory Networks [NEON]).

Hao Ye

“I am a computational ecologist who dabbles in dynamical systems and software development. My research is centered around modeling change in ecosystems, using methods to infer the underlying processes that produce time series observations. Some specific areas that I work on include: population dynamics and forecasting, quantifying information flow and causality, and indicators of stability & resilience. I am also interested in reproducible research practices to both accelerate science and improve its accessibility.”

Hao Ye contributed to the BES Guide to Reproducible Code last year. He has recently been published in Regional Studies in Marine Science and Nature.

We’re delighted to welcome Hao Ye and Sydne to the Associate Editor Board and we look forward to working with them over the coming years.

New Associate Editor: Res Altwegg

Today, we are pleased to be welcoming a new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Res Altwegg joins us from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and you can find out a little more about him below.

Res Altwegg

“My interests lie at the intersection between ecology and statistics, particularly in demography, population ecology, species range dynamics and community ecology. My work addresses questions in conservation biology especially in relation to climate change. I’m particularly excited about the increasing availability of large data sets, such as those collected by citizen scientists, and the opportunities and challenges their analysis brings.”

Res is the founding director of the centre for Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation at the University of Cape Town. The centre brings together ecologists and statisticians with the aim to address some of the most important questions in ecology and conservation using cutting-edge statistical methods. He has reviewed for Methods in Ecology and Evolution a number of times over the past few years and has had one article – ‘A general framework for animal density estimation from acoustic detections across a fixed microphone array‘ – published in the journal. Another of Res’ articles has recently been accepted for publication and will appear in an upcoming Special Feature.

We are thrilled to welcome Res as a new Associate Editor and we look forward to working with him on the journal.

New Associate Editors

Today we are welcoming two new Associate Editors to Methods in Ecology and Evolution: Huijie Qiao (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China) and Veronica Zamora-Gutierrez (Unidad Durango, Mexico and University of Southampton, UK). They have both joined on a three-year term and you can find out more about them below.

Huijie Qiao

Huijie Qiao

Huijie Qiao

“My research is focused broadly on macroecology. I work to clarify the theory and methodology behind ecological niche modelling and species distribution modelling. In this realm, I have worked to improve our understanding of those modelling algorithms that perform best under different model configuration scenarios, and examined how spatial bias affects model outcomes. I have also developed a simulation framework designed to understand the causal mechanisms that structure biodiversity on both long and short timescales in a virtual world.”

Huijie had an article published in last December’s issue of Methods in Ecology and Evolution. In ‘Using data from related species to overcome spatial sampling bias and associated limitations in ecological niche modelling‘ the authors assess how useful it is to integrate occurrence data for closely related species with varying degrees of niche overlap into Ecological niche models of focal species. In recent years, Huijie has also had articles published in Global Ecology and Biogeography, American Naturalist and Ecography.

Veronica Zamora-Gutierrez

Veronica Zamora Gutierrez

Veronica Zamora Gutierrez

“I am an ecologist and my research interests range from mammal´s conservation, bioacoustics and species interactions to ecosystem services in both natural areas and human-dominated landscapes like cities and agroecosistems. At present, my work focuses mainly on bats to answer question related to their importance as pollinators and suppressors of insects’ population, their echolocation behaviour and how global change is and might affect them. Deepening our understanding of these questions is crucial for developing effective conservation strategies in this anthropozoic era.”

In 2016, Veronica was the lead author on ‘Acoustic identification of Mexican bats based on taxonomic and ecological constraints on call design‘ which was published in the September issue of Methods in Ecology and Evolution. The article collated a reference call library for bat species that occur in a megadiverse country (Mexico) and is now freely available. More recently, she has published articles on the effects of climate change on bats and the importance of vertebrate pollinators.

We’re delighted to welcome Huijie and Veronica to the Associate Editor Board and we look forward to working with them over the coming years.

New Associate Editor: Johan Kotze

Today, we are pleased to be welcoming a new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Johan Kotze joins us from the University of Helsinki, Finland and you can find out a little more about him below.

Johan Kotze

“I am an entomologist with a broad interest in all things urban. In particular, my research focuses on beetles (and other insect communities) in urban greenspace, ranging from remnant forests, meadows, and bogs to vegetated roofs. During the past few years, I have also become interested in using urban soils as in situ laboratories to investigate decomposition, soil quality and the soil microbial community. Working in urban environments inevitably results in messy data – beyond the usual messiness of community data – due to sample losses. Methodological, design and statistical tools to treat such messy data interest me as well.”

We are thrilled to welcome Johan as a new Associate Editor and we look forward to working with him on the journal.

R2ucare: An Interview with Olivier Gimenez

At the International Statistical Ecology Conference in St Andrews this July (ISEC 2018) David Warton interviewed Olivier Gimenez about R2ucare. R2ucare is an R package for goodness-of-fit tests for capture-recapture models. The full Methods in Ecology and Evolution article on this package – R2ucare: An r package to perform goodness‐of‐fit tests for capture–recapture models – was published in the July 2018 issue of the journal.

David and Olivier also discuss some tips for creating R packages. They mention that if you’re new to writing R packages, there are some excellent resources online. Here’s one of them: A Quickstart Guide for Building Your First R Package

We’ll have more of David’s interviews from the ISEC coming out over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for them here and on the Methods in Ecology and Evolution YouTube channel.

You can find David’s first ISEC interview (with Kate Jones) here.

Bats, Acoustic Methods and Conservation 4.0: An Interview with Kate Jones

At this year’s International Statistical Ecology Conference (ISEC 2018) David Warton interviewed Kate Jones, Chair in Ecology and Biodiversity at University College, London. Their conversation mainly focused on how to classify bats from acoustic data, with particular reference to ‘Acoustic identification of Mexican bats based on taxonomic and ecological constraints on call design‘ by Veronica Zamora‐Gutierrez et al. They also discuss Conservation 4.0!

We’ll have more of David’s interviews from the ISEC coming out over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for them here and on the Methods in Ecology and Evolution YouTube channel.