There’s a frustrating yin and yang to biological research: motivated by curiosity and imagination, we often find ourselves instead defined by limitations. Some of these are fundamental human conditions. The spectrum of light detectable by human eyes, for example, means we can never see a flower the way a bee sees it. Others limitations, like funding and time, are realities of modern-day social and economic systems.
Early career researchers (ECRs) starting new projects and delving into new research systems must be especially creative to overcome the odds. Large grants can be transformative, giving a research group the equipment and resources to complete a study, but they’re tough to get. Inexperienced ECRs are at a disadvantage when competing against battle-hardened investigators with years of grant writing experience. Small grants of up to about $5000 USD, on the other hand, are comparatively easy to find. So, how can ECRs make the most of small, intermittent sources of funding?
I found myself faced with this question in the second year of my PhD field work. Continue reading →
The use of molecular methods for monitoring and surveillance of organisms in aquatic and marine systems has become more and more common. We’ve since expanded this technology this through using both captured whole organisms and collecting/filtering environmental DNA (eDNA). These methods naturally migrated from single species, active surveillance methods towards using high throughput sequencing as a method of passive surveillance via metabarcoding.
I’d recommend this paper to all researchers and management groups interested in applying metabarcoding techniques to answer both experimental and applied questions. The design of this article will provide both experienced researchers and those new to the field with important information to further this rapidly expanding field.
Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’re launching a new article type for Methods in Ecology and Evolution: Practical Tools. Like our Applications articles, Practical Tools will be short papers(up to 3000 words). They’ll focus on new field techniques, equipment or lab protocols. From this point forward, our Applications papers will solely focus on software and code.
Practical tools need to clearly demonstrate how tools designed for specific systems or problems can be adapted for more general use. Online supporting information can include specific instructions, especially for building equipment. You can find some examples of Applications that would now fit into this article type here and here.
I’m delighted to be the newest member of the diverse team of Senior and Associate Editors who have made Methods in Ecology and Evolution one of the premier journals in the field. After 15 years working on the lead editorial teams of Ecologyand Ecological Monographs, I’m really looking forward to applying my editorial energies to the ESA’s friendly competitor on the other side of the ‘pond’.
research and teaching on the natural history and population, community, and landscape ecology of plants and animals (mostly invertebrates) in the marine intertidal and subtidal, among salt marshes and mangroves, tropical and temperate forests, and carnivorous plant bogs
extensive forays into statistics, mathematics, and software engineering
increasing attention to the history and practice of art and architecture and their relationship to ecological theory
and more than two decades of work in editing and publishing journals with scientific societies.
All of these things contribute to my open, catholic approach to scientific research, teaching, and publishing, and their relationship to the broader world.
The editors of Methods are always interested in seeing papers on methodological advances and approaches that lead to new directions. We love reading about creative solutions for new challenges in ecological and evolutionary research and applications in the broadest sense. As a new Senior Editor, I’m especially hoping to encourage more papers in three areas: field methods (about which I’ve published two of my own papers in Methods), reproducibility, and science communication. Continue reading →
Understanding how animals perceive, learn and remember stimuli is critical for understanding both how cognition is shaped by natural selection, and how ecological factors impact behaviour.Unfortunately, the limited number of protocols currently available for studying insect cognition has restricted research to a few commercially available bee species, in almost exclusively laboratory settings.
In a new video Felicity Muth describes a simple method she developed with Trenton Cooper, Rene Bonilla and Anne Leonard for testing both lab- and wild-caught bees for their preferences, learning and memory. They hope this method will be useful for students and researchers who have not worked on cognition in bees before. The video includes a tutorial for carrying out the method and describes the data presented in their Methods in Ecology and Evolutionarticle, also titled ‘A novel protocol for studying bee cognition in the wild‘.
The British Ecological Society (BES) is a thriving learned society established in 1913 whose vision is a world inspired, informed and influenced by ecology. It publishes five successful journals, and a quarterly newsletter, the Bulletin, that is distributed to its 5,000 members worldwide. At present, the BES is seeking an outstanding ecologist to join the team of Senior Editors on Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MEE) is a high-profile broad-scope journal which promotes the development of new methods in ecology and evolution and facilitates their dissemination and uptake by the research community. It brings together papers from previously disparate sub-disciplines to provide a single forum for tracking methodological developments in all areas. The journal has excellent citation metrics including a current Impact Factor of 6.34 and an active social media presence.
Submissions to MEE are growing and we are seeking an Senior Editor to strengthen and complement the editorial team and to continue raising the journal’s profile worldwide. The journal’s editorial team currently consists of three Senior Editors who are supported by an international board of around 60 Associate Editors and dedicated editorial office personnel. The Editors work together to determine journal strategy and to increase the reputation and quality of the journal, in addition to making decisions on around 800 manuscripts submitted each year. Further details about the Journal and its current editorial team can be found at www.methodsinecologyandevolution.org. Continue reading →
In a new Methods in Ecology and Evolution podcast, the Senior Editors – Rob Freckleton, Bob O’Hara and Jana Vamosi – discuss the past, present and future of the journal. They talk about what sets it apart from other journals, their favourite articles and the kinds of papers that they would like to see more of. If you’re thinking about submitting to Methods in Ecology and Evolution, they have some advice for you as well.
DNA dietary analysis is a non-invasive tool used to identify the food consumed by vertebrates. The method relies on identifying prey DNA in the target animals’ scats. It’s especially useful for marine animals such as seals and seabirds as it is difficult to watch their feeding events.
Most people assume that research equipment is expensive and complicated. But, it doesn’t need to be and the noise egg is a perfect example of this. It consists of a watertight container (as used by scuba divers) and the buzzer from a cellphone and does exactly what it says: it produces low frequency noise. This allows researchers to test the effect of noise on underwater life. It is a small, simple and cheap device that anyone can build.
Underwater noise is rapidly increasing due to, for example, boat traffic and offshore wind farms. This can lead to stress for animals and difficulties in communication. Just as people have a hard time communicating in a noisy pub, animals may struggle to get their messages across when background noise is high. A nice description of how animals use sound and how noise may affect this can be found at www.dosits.org
While there is some knowledge on the effect of noise on large aquatic animals, we still know very little about how fish and other small aquatic animals are affected. Such knowledge is vital for management of protected areas. It’s also important to know whether wind farms and boat traffic can affect reproduction in populations of underwater resources such as fish and mussels. The answers to these questions are likely to be species specific, so we’ll need data on a large number of species in different habitats. Continue reading →
Friday was Endangered Species Day – so this is a good time to reflect on what science and scientists can do to support conservation efforts and to reduce the rate of species extinctions. One obvious answer is that we need to study endangered species to understand their habitat requirements as well as their potential for acclimatization and adaptation to changing environmental conditions. This information is crucial to for the design of informed conservation planning. However, for most endangered species the relevant phenotypes are not known a priori, which leaves the well-intentioned scientist asking “which traits should I measure?”. Transcriptome analysis is often a good way to answer to this question.