Network analyses of animal movement

Determining how animals move within their environment is a fundamental knowledge that contributes to effective management and conservation.

In our latest video, David Jacoby and Edd Brooks explain how their paper brings together two disparate and rapid advancing fields: biotelemetry and social networking analyses.

In a paper recently published in Methods, David, Edd and colleagues Darren Croft and David Sims, demonstrate some of the descriptive and quantitative approaches for determining how an animal’s movement interconnects home range habitats. David and colleagues describe the novel application of network analyses to electronic tag data whereby nodes represent locations and edges between nodes, the movements of individuals. They consider both local and global network properties from an
animal movement perspective and simulate the effects of node disruption as a proxy for habitat disturbance.

Network theory is a well-established theoretical framework and its integration into the fast
developing field of animal movement and telemetry might improve significantly how we interpret animal space use from electronically recorded data.

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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!

Evolution MegaLab

Modern technology offers some really exciting new opportunities for the use of citizen science, and in our newest video Jonathan Silvertown, Open University, gives a demonstration of Evolution MegaLab, a huge collaboration exploring the use of citizen science methods to undertake high-quality surveys of polymorphism in a wild species.


Jonathan demonstrates the site’s display of historical polymorphism data, some features designed to enable researchers to assess the reliability of volunteer-gathered data, and the process by which anyone can add newly gathered data to the project database.

In a paper recently published in Methods, the authors detail  the methodology used in setting up the Evolution MegaLab, analyse its more and less successful components, and provide a clear set of guidelines for any designer of future citizen science projects.

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Modelling static and dynamic variables

Jessica Stanton discusses the problem of accounting for both static and dynamic variables in designing species distribution models under climate change in our newest author video.

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Measuring the importance of species to ecosystems

In this video to accompany their paper Randomization tests for quantifying species importance to ecosystem function, authors Nicholas Gotelli and Fernando Maestre discuss the introduction of simple tests for measuring the effect of species on ecosystem variables, and give us an insight into the logistics required for their paper’s “natural experiements” – involving the collection and preparation of over 25,000 lichen samples!


The methodology presented in this paper provides a simple way of determining and testing species importance, and could form the basis for future theoretical and experimental studies investigating species occurrence and ecosystem function.

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Heating up the forest

In our latest video Shannon Pellini demonstrates experimental equipment designed to simulate the effects of warmer air temperatures on forest ecosystems – and, particuarly, on arthropod communities.

You can read a full account of their experimental methods, and results from two contemporaneous trials at Harvard Forest and Duke Forest, in their recently published paper, Heating up the forest: open-top chamber warming manipulation of arthropod communities at Harvard and Duke Forests.

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Estimating seed predation rates

Seed predation plays an important role in global plant demography. In this video, Adam Davis, of the University of Illinois, demonstrates how field experiments and statistical models can can enable the extrapolation of long-term seed predation rates from short-term data.


A full treatment of this can be found in the paper Temporal scaling of episodic point estimates of seed predation to long-term predation rates, recently published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

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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!