Methods in Temporal Ecology

Post provided by Althea L. Davies & M. Jane Bunting

This post presents our reflections from two sessions at the first British Ecological Society Annual Meeting since the Palaeoecology Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed. Did the term “palaeoecology” make you want to stop reading? Then you’re not alone – our field of ecology seems to have drifted apart from neoecology over the last couple decades. We seem to have been separated by our choice of methods, rather than brought together by the fascinating, complex and essential challenges of better understanding ecosystem function that we share.

The diversity of talks at BES 2018 showed that ecologists working on time scales beyond the scope of direct study are researching the same urgent, exciting questions as other flavours of ecology. And that they are doing it by using an ever-growing range of methods and technologies. The Thematic Session ‘Advancing Our Understanding of Long-Term Ecology’ showcased advances in studies of long-term ecology. The Palaeoecology Oral Session demonstrated the diversity within this field. We don’t have room to mention all presenters, so we’d like to highlight contributions from two speakers in each session which demonstrate how strong the shared ground between palaeoecology and neoecology is. Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Bob O’Hara

We’re just days aware from the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting. That means it’s time to meet our fourth Senior Editor: Bob O’Hara

What can you tell us about the first paper you published?
I got the sub-species name wrong in the first sentence of the introduction. This is why it’s good I’m not a taxonomist.

Who inspired you most as a student?
I’m not sure. I guess the writers of all those wonderful 70s Am. Nat. papers, when they did theory without the use of computers.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?
The ability to be organised. Also hte ability to type without typos.

Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Rob Freckleton

Today, we’re finding out a bit more about Methods in Ecology and Evolution‘s Executive (and founding) Editor, Rob Freckleton.

Please share a [funny] story about a paper you had rejected.
I had a paper rejected (from a journal that will remain nameless) – so I submitted it to Functional Ecology and it won the Haldane prize for best paper by a young author. I had another that was rejected from that journal and subsequently published in Functional Ecology that directly got me a job! Another amusing anecdote from around the same time: a third paper was not rejected, but I was accidentally forwarded some correspondence from the Editor with some (very non-flattering) opinions of me & my co-author… that paper went on to get >300 citations; and the Editor apologised fulsomely and unreservedly, to their great credit. And I’m not specifically knocking the journal in question: I just send a lot of papers there so have a lot of stories!
Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Lee Hsiang Liow

We’re meeting a second Senior Editor ahead of the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting today: Lee Hsiang Liow

What’s your favourite species and why?
Microporella rusti. It is a bryozoan species from New Zealand and is named after a good friend Seabourne Rust who is a Kiwi bryozoologist. Most marine bryozoans are really lovely, but this one is not just that, but a bit weird, because no one has yet seen any brood chambers in the hundreds of colonies we have examined (hey! where did the babies go?). And, by naming this species, I am forever linked with some of the best bryozoologists in the world (Emanuela Di Martino, Paul D Taylor and Dennis Gordon), who are also some of the people I admire most!
Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Aaron Ellison

The British Ecological Society Annual Meeting is fast approaching. Those of you joining us in Birmingham will have a chance to meet our Senior Editors. So, we thought that you might like to get to know them a little bit beforehand.

First up, we’re meeting our newest Senior Editor, Aaron Ellison.

What can you tell us about the first paper you published?
I published my first paper in 1983 (A naturally occurring developmental synergism between the cellular slime mold, Dictyostelium mucoroides and the fungus, Mucor hiemalis). It was based on summer undergraduate research in which I developed a new method to collect cellular slime molds (Dictyostelium spp.) in the field and then worked on culturing them in the lab during the following fall and spring. During this time, I discovered that one of the strains of D. mucoroides only made stalked fruiting bodies in the presence of a fungus, Mucor hiemalis. My first draft was terrible, but I learned a lot through the editing process with my undergraduate mentor, Leo Buss. Continue reading

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.

What the Past Can Tell Us About the Future: Notes from Crossing the Palaeontological – Ecological Gap

Post provided by Karen Bacon

I had the pleasure of delivering one of the plenary talks at the first (hopefully of many) Crossing the Palaeontological – Ecological Gap meeting held in the University of Leeds on August 30th and 31st. I’m a geologist and a botanist, so this is a topic that’s close to my heart and my professional interests.

How Palaeoecology Can Help Us Today

©Gail Hampshire

©Gail Hampshire

As we move into an ecologically uncertain future with pressures of climate change, land-use change and resource limitations, the fossil record offers the only truly long-term record of how Earth’s ecosystems respond to major environmental upheaval driven by climate change events. The fossil record is, of course, not without its problems – there are gaps, not everything fossilises in the same way or numbers, and comparisons to today’s ecology are extremely difficult.  It’s these difficulties (and other challenges) that make the uniting of palaeontology and ecology essential to fully address how plants, animals and other organisms have responded to major changes in the past. Perhaps uniting them could give us an idea of what to expect in our near-term future, as carbon dioxide levels return to those not previously experienced on Earth since the Pliocene, over 2 million years ago. Continue reading

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.

Poles Apart Yet Poles Together

Post provided by Matt Davey

Earlier this summer, I attended a rather unique conference – Polar2018 in Davos, Switzerland. This conference brought together the two major committees that help govern and coordinate Arctic, Alpine and Antarctic research around the globe – the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) – who also celebrates their 60th Anniversary this year – and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

With nearly 2500 delegates over one week it was impressive how talks and sessions kept to time, posters went up and came down, and coffee (good coffee, served with correctly cooked croissants!) was served. The level of organisation you’d hope to see at all conferences, big or small. The venue for Polar2018 was also home to the G7 world economic forum summits and staff seemed at ease with only having 2500 delegates to deal with…

From day one, there was persistent message throughout the conference. Not only does the rest of the human populated world affect the polar environments, but in response, any change in polar ecosystem and environment functioning (biological and non-biological) has a large knock-on effect on the rest of the world. Continue reading

The Future of Research and Publishing in Evolutionary Biology

Are you coming to the Evolution 2018 in Montpellier? Want to share your views on the future of evolution research? Fancy some beer, wine and snacks on us?

We know the history of research and publications in evolution, but what will the future hold?

We would like to invite you to participate in an exciting focus session centred around what the future research landscape might look like through the eyes of up-and-coming researchers.

When: Tuesday 21 August between 14:00 and 16:00

Where:  Bar Les Loges, Grand Hotel du Midi, Montpellier

We’re looking for active researchers (based in universities, research institutes, government agencies, NGOs or the private sector) within about 10 years of having been awarded a PhD. Experienced PhD students who have published in peer reviewed academic journals are also welcome to join. Continue reading