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


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.


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.


Volume 3 Issue 1: Now online

It seems that from the number of submissions we receive at the journal, Methods in Ecology and Evolution has filled an important niche. As our editor-in-chief, Rob Freckleton, wrote to introduce our second volume: “those doing science need to be kept up to date on new approaches, and those developing new methods need a place to publish, as well as be supported in getting their methods used”. The journal appears to have done just that: not only have we published some very popular articles (see our recent posts on 2011 top cited papers part 1, part 2 and part 3) but we have also seen a keen interest from our authors in utilising the online extras that we offer to disseminate their work.

As always, in issue 3.1 we cover a very broad range of articles – the scope includes everything from statistics, to ecophysiology and stable isotope methods. The applications of the methods are as varied as reconstructing snow depth surfaces, tracking migratory songbirds, estimating immigration in neutral communities and assessing the effects of watershed and reach characteristics on riverine assemblages. Being the first issue of the year all content is free to access.

One of our big aims is to promote the uptake of methods. On our video and podcast page, we have support for the papers in this issue, including:

Our first Open Access article by Erica Spotswood and colleagues, How safe is mist netting? Evaluating the risk of injury and mortality to birds, attracted a lot media attention. You can read the press coverage for this article on our News and Highlights page.

This issue also contains a free phylogenetic application: MOTMOT, a model of trait macroevolution on trees by Gavin Thomas and Rob Freckleton. Check out our Applications page describing the latest software tools. It’s worth remembering that all Applications are free.

Finally, Mitch Eaton and William Link provided the catchy photograph that make this issue’s front cover. You can read more about the cover on a separate post, available tomorrow!

We hope you enjoy reading this issue!

Issue 2.5 out today

Issue 2.5 of Methods in Ecology and Evolution is published today, and it’s a special 150 page bumper edition!

The tempo of evolution  heads the bill for this issue, with a strong phylogenetic duo in Measuring the temporal structure in serially sampled phylogenies by Rebecca R. Gray, Oliver G. Pybus and Marco Salemi, and A simple polytomy resolver for dated phylogenies by Tyler S. Kuhn, Arne Ø. Mooers and Gavin H. Thomas. The nature of life-history evolution is also examined, with a re-interpretation of the ubiquity of post-reproductive lifespan in Levitis and Lackey’s A measure for describing and comparing postreproductive life span as a population trait.

Two papers describe improved camera trapping methods, leading towards a practical application of the random encounter model in  Quantifying the sensitivity of camera traps: an adapted distance sampling approach (Rowcliffe et al.), and towards a measure for correcting for observer error in Estimating survival in photographic capture–recapture studies: overcoming misidentification error (Morrison et al.).

An innovative use of stable isotope analysis to the problem of tracking carnivore ranges is explored in Tracking large carnivore dispersal using isotopic clues in claws: an application to cougars across the Great Plains by Hénaux et al., while an inexpensive, convenient and widely applicable assay for comparitive analysis of avian immune function is introduced in A simple assay for measurement of ovotransferrin – a marker of inflammation and infection in birds by Horrocks et al. An improved method for raising honeybees in vitro, with potential to improve urgent research on colony collapse disorder, is proposed by Hendriksma et al. in Honey bee risk assessment: new approaches for in vitro larvae rearing and data analyses.

Three papers deal with predicting and modelling range expansions, invasive migrations, and community upheaval  under climate change. Improving prediction and management of range expansions by combining analytical and individual-based modelling approaches, by Travis et al., and A benefit analysis of screening for invasive species – base-rate uncertainty and the value of information, by Sahlin et al., provide useful tools for improved modelling under these uncertain conditions, while by contrast Heating up the forest: open-top chamber warming manipulation of arthropod communities at Harvard and Duke Forests, by Pelini et al., showcases an ingenious experimental setup for artificially simulating global change on a small scale, and in situ.

Population structure and community connectivity are addressed in Powney et al.’s Measuring functional connectivity using long-term monitoring data, and Joppa & Williams’ The influence of single elements on nested community structure.

Two papers on population modelling round off the issue, with Transient sensitivity analysis for nonlinear population models by Taverner et al., and Estimating abundance from presence/absence maps by Wen-Han Hwang and Fangliang He.

Don’t forget that your library can get free access in perpetuity to the first two years of Methods in Ecology and Evolution (including this issue!) by just completing this request form.

Issue 2.3 out today

Issue 2.3 of Methods in Ecology and Evolution is officially out today, and we couldn’t be more excited about the breadth of new methodological advancements contained within!

Application papers head the bill, with PASSaGE: Pattern Analysis, Spatial Statistics and Geographic Exegesis. Version 2 (Rosenberg & Anderson) and FDiversity: a software package for the integrated analysis of functional diversity (Casanoves et al.) – both available for free, to maximise the uptake of these new approaches.

Fine-scale environmental resolution is a hot topic for this editon, with two papers dealing with its development and application. Knouft et al. consider the practical applications of such data in Using fine-scale GIS data to assess the relationship between intra-annual environmental niche variability and population density in a local stream fish assemblage, while  McInerny & Purves explore the uncertainty arising from fine-scale environmental variation when developing species distribution models in Fine-scale environmental variation in species distribution modelling: regression dilution, latent variables and neighbourly advice. Both of these papers are accompanied by podcasts, where the authors discuss their papers with the journal coordinator in further detail.

Three statistical approaches are highlighted – Testing the significance of canonical axes in redundancy analysis (Legendre et al), Using false discovery rates for multiple comparisons in ecology and evolution (Pike), and Methods for exact perturbation analysis (Miller et al.) – all with accompanying R code or data files.

A quicker and less expensive method of identifying problematic organisms, with interesting implications for biosecurity, is proposed by Winder et al. in Evaluation of DNA melting analysis as a tool for species identification, while the necessity of accounting for the assay method when investigating oxidative stress is explored by Costantini On the measurement of circulating antioxidant capacity and the nightmare of uric acid.

Population monitoring is addressed in From meso- to macroscale population dynamics: a new density-structured approach (Queenborough et al.), while habitat and distribution modelling is addressed in Introducing a ‘stochastic movement simulator’ for estimating habitat connectivity (Palmer et al.) This issue also sees the publication of our first Open Access paper, A simple method for in situ-labelling with 15N and 13C of grassland plant species by foliar brushing by Putz et al.

Finally, Sutherland et al. look to the future with Methods for collaboratively identifying research priorities and emerging issues in science and policy, a paper that is sure to be of significant interest to researchers and policy makers alike.


Volume 2 Issue 1: Now online

We launched Methods in Ecology in Evolution because we thought that there was a huge demand for methods papers: those doing science need to be kept up to date on new approaches, and those developing new methods need a place to publish, as well as be supported in getting their methods used. Our first volume has exceeded all expectations and we are really pleased to announce that the first issue of volume 2 is online on time and is full of a diverse range top quality papers.

The range of papers in this new issue is extra-ordinary – the scope includes everything from statistics, to energetic modelling and stable isotope methods. The applications of the methods are as varied as measuring food web dynamics, uncovering the drivers of farmland bird declines and the use of phylogenetic methods for reconstructing the history of the molluscs.

One of our big aims is to promote the uptake of methods. On our video and podcast page, we have support for the papers in this issue, including :

In fact almost all of the papers in this issue are supported by either a podcast, a videocast or online supplements. These latter include the user manual explaining how to used the WaderMorph modelling software, amongst others.

This issue contains an important “application” paper: Thomas Etherington gives an outline of the tools he has developed for visualising genetic relatedness in landscape genetics. Look out for more of these, describing the latest software tools, on our Early View page.

We are pleased to see that our papers are beginning to be used: the 10 papers published just a year ago in issue 1 have been cited (according to Google Scholar) a total of 34 times in the first twelve months since publication, i.e. an average of 3.4 times per paper. This is fantastic – for comparison, a journal wilth a Thomson ISI© Impact Factor of 3.4 receives an average of 3.4 citations per paper in the two years following the year of publication.  This is hopefully an indication of good things to come!

Methods in Ecology and Evolution – news

I hope that you have had an enjoyable and productive summer – this is just to update on a few bits of news from Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

First, Issue 3 has appeared – there are articles on topics including:

  • Evolutionary Ecology
  • Stable Isotopes
  • Population modelling & monitoring
  • Parasitology
  • Conservation & community ecology

Second, the first year of the journal has been enormously succesful – we are getting many very good submissions and as a consequence we will move from 4 issues this year, to 6 in 2011. This is a faster growth than we had anticipated and reflects the superb quality of the papers that we are receiving!

Third, we will be at the British Ecological Society meeting in Leeds next week from the 6-8th Sept. If you have any questions, do drop by the Wiley-Blackwell stand: about 13 members of the editorial team will be at the meeting.

Finally do check out our videos & podcasts – there have been lots of updates.

Issue 2 is now online

Issue 2 of Methods in Ecology and Evolution is now online, the table of contents is here.  In this issue there are 14 new papers on:

  • Statistical methods
  • Monitoring & modelling plant populations
  • Telemetry
  • Entomology
  • Modelling wildlife disease
  • Building databases of life-history traits
  • GIS methods

One innovation is that we now have a correspondence site:

From here you can send in correspondence about papers, as well as view other correspondence. We think that this is a really useful feature for a journal devoted to methods: corresp0ndence between authors and readers will be a useful resource, allowing discussion of techniques, refinement of methods, ironing out of problems as well as further suggestions for developments.  We encourage readers and authors to use this to discuss papers. The site is fully moderated so all material appearing should be constructive and useful to all.

The methods digest for the last month will be appearing soon:- delayed largely as a consequence of volcano ash.

Finally do check out the latest podcasts and videos, they are being updated all the time. The very latest video is an interview with Aaron Ellison from his field site!