Author Guidelines

Please ensure that your article fits within the journal’s Aims and Scope and that you have read our Editorial Policies before submitting your article.

Quick Checklist for Initial Submission


To simplify the process for authors we differentiate between initial and revised submissions. Initial submissions can be submitted in any file type providing they adhere to the following requirements:

  • Single column, double line spaced
  • Within the word count of 7,500 words including references and figure legends for research articles, reviews and perspectives. Forums and commentaries should be within the 4,000 word word count. A clear justification must be given in the cover letter for manuscripts over the word count
  • Line and page numbers
  • Clearly defined manuscript structure as standard: Abstract (must be numbered according to journal style), Author details, Keywords, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions (optional), Authors' Contributions, Acknowledgements, Data Accessibility, References, Figures and Tables with captions
  • Figures and Tables can be embedded within the text where referenced to facilitate reviewing
  • Statement of where you intend to archive your data

Paper types


Research Article (formerly Standard Paper)

See Manuscript Specifications below.


Functional Ecology aims to publish reviews on subjects of broad ecological interest. Reviews should be question-focused (not taxon-focused). If you have written a review that falls within Functional Ecology's remit and will be of broad general interest, please submit your review to the journal, noting in your letter to the editor how your review fits into the broader literature (i.e., how it relates to similar recently-published reviews) and how it advances the broader field of ecology. If you have not yet written your review, but have an idea for a review you think will be of interest to the journal, please submit your query to our Reviews Editor, Emma Sayer (cc to Please include a short description of the proposed topic, including a brief statement about why it is relevant to readers of Functional Ecology. Note that we can provide more meaningful feedback on queries that offer a more thorough description of the review objectives (abstract, outline, sample text) and a description of how the review relates to other review papers published in recent years.

Reviews should have informative subject headings dependent on the topic of the paper and do not need to adhere to research article format. See recent editions of the journal for examples.


These are short communications presenting opinions on, or responses to, material published in the journal. Reanalysis of the original data presented in the focal article is encouraged, however new data should not generally be presented. Forums should be submitted in a timely manner, ideally within 12 months of publication of the original article. Forum articles will be assessed by the journal Editorial Board and, if deemed to be of sufficient broad interest to our readership, will usually be sent for external peer review. If accepted, they will be held from publication while the authors of the original article are invited to respond. Authors of the original article are not required to write a forum response and are given a set time frame if they choose to do so. If accepted, both Forum articles will then be published together in an issue. If factual errors with the data or analyses presented in the original article come to light, these will be investigated before publication of the Forum article(s) and a correction notice will be published either instead of or as well as the Forum article(s).

Functional Ecology does not publish manuscripts whose primary purpose is to critique papers published in other journals. We do, however, consider perspective pieces that review and critique the broader literature on a topic.


These are short communications (usually up to 4000 words) on a topical subject of interest to our readership.


These are short articles presenting new ideas (without data) intended to stimulate scientific debate.

FE Spotlights

Functional Ecology Spotlights are short invited commentaries, highlighting papers of exceptional quality and significant novelty. These commentaries place the research in context and highlight how the paper advances ecology.

Manuscript Specifications


Manuscripts should be double line-spaced with continuous line numbers throughout the article. Manuscripts must be written in English. Authors for whom English is not their first language may wish to consider using a professional editing service before submission, e.g. Wiley’s editing services. The use of these services does not guarantee acceptance or preference for publication. It is also recommended that authors follow search engine optimisations guidelines to maximise the reach of their article.

All submissions should be written in English, However, we encourage authors to provide a second abstract in their native language or the language relevant to the country in which the research was conducted. The second abstract will be published with the online version of the article and will not be included in the PDF. Please note that second abstracts will not be copyedited and will be published as provided by the authors. Authors who wish to take advantage of this option should provide the second abstract in the main document below the English language version.


Submissions should be divided into the following sections:

Title page

Should include:

  • A concise and informative title. Do not include the authorities for taxonomic names.
  • A list of all authors' names with names and addresses of Institutions.
  • The name, address and e-mail address of the correspondence author


 The Abstract must not exceed 350 words and should list the main results and conclusions, using simple, factual, numbered statements.


A list in alphabetical order not exceeding eight words or short phrases. More advice on selecting good keywords can be found here.


This should state the reason for doing the work, the nature of the hypothesis or hypotheses under consideration, and should outline the essential background.

Materials and methods

Include sufficient details for the work to be repeated. Where specific equipment and materials are named, the manufacturer’s details (name, city and country) should be given so that readers can trace specifications by contacting the manufacturer. Where commercially available software has been used, details of the supplier should be given in brackets or the reference given in full in the reference list. Do not describe or refer to commonplace statistical tests in this section but allude to them briefly in Results.


State the results and draw attention in the text to important details shown in tables and figures.


This should point out the significance of the results in relation to the reasons for doing the work, and place them in the context of other work.

Conclusions (optional)

Acknowledgements (optional)

A brief statement acknowledging collaborators and research assistants who do not meet the criteria for authorship described above, or acknowledging funding sources, providing relevant permit numbers (including institutional animal use permits), or giving recognition to nature reserves or other organizations that made the work possible.

Authors’ contributions

All submissions with more than one author must include an Author Contributions statement. All persons listed as authors on a paper are expected to meet ALL of the following criteria for authorship:

  • substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, or drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
  • final approval of the version to be published;
  • agreement to be accountable for the aspects of the work that they conducted and ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of their work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Acquisition of funding, provision of facilities, or supervising the research group of authors without additional contribution are not usually sufficient justifications for authorship. The statement should include an explanation of the contribution of each author. We suggest the following format for the Author Contributions statement:

  • AB and CD conceived the ideas and designed methodology;
  • CD and EF collected the data;
  • EF and GH analysed the data;
  • AB and CD led the writing of the manuscript.

All authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.

Data accessibility

To enable readers to locate archived data from papers, we require that authors list the database and the respective accession numbers or DOIs for all data from the manuscript that has been made publicly available. For example, Data available from the Dryad Digital Repository(Kiere & Drummond 2016). When a DOI is available for the data, the full data citation should also be given in the reference list. See below.
Please see our editorial policies page for further information


In text citations should follow the author-date method whereby the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998). The complete reference list should appear alphabetically by name at the end of the paper.  Please note that a DOI should be provided for all references where available.

You will not be asked to reformat references during submission or peer review however, a sample of the most common entries in our reference lists appears below.

Text Citations:

One author: Gabriel (2000) and (Gabriel, 2000)
Two authors: (Mathes & Severa, 2004) and Mathes and Severa (2004)
Three to five authors (first occurrence): Waterman, Roman, and Rock (1993) and (Waterman, Roman, & Rock 1993)

Six or more authors: Smith et al. (1999) and (Smith et al., 1999)

Personal communication citations are not included in the reference list. Cite personal communications in text only. Give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide as exact a date as possible.

References should be cited as 'in press' only if the paper has been accepted for publication. Work not yet submitted for publication or under review should be cited as 'unpublished data', with the author's initials and surname given; such work should not be included in the Reference section. Any paper cited as 'in press' or under review elsewhere must be uploaded as part of the manuscript submission as a file 'not for review' so that it can be seen by the editors and, if necessary, made available to the referees.

In Reference List:

  • Journal article

Example of reference with 2 to 7 authors

Beers, S. R. , & De Bellis, M. D. (2002). Neuropsychological function in children with maltreatment-related posttraumatic stress disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 483–486. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.159.3.483

Ramus, F., Rosen, S., Dakin, S. C., Day, B. L., Castellote, J. M., White, S., & Frith, U. (2003). Theories of developmental dyslexia: Insights from a multiple case study of dyslexic adults. Brain, 126(4), 841–865. doi: 10.1093/brain/awg076

Example of reference with more than 7 authors

Rutter, M., Caspi, A., Fergusson, D., Horwood, L. J., Goodman, R., Maughan, B., … Carroll, J. (2004). Sex differences in developmental reading disability: New findings from 4 epidemiological studies. Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(16), 2007–2012. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.16.2007

  • Book edition

Bradley-Johnson, S. (1994). Psychoeducational assessment of students who are visually impaired or blind: Infancy through high school (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-ed.

  • Edited book

Hawkley, L. C., Preacher, K. J., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2007). Multilevel modeling of social interactions and mood in lonely and socially connected individuals: The MacArthur social neuroscience studies. In A. D. Ong & M. Van Dulmen (Eds.), Oxford handbook of methods in positive psychology (pp. 559–575). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Data sets

For any data with a unique identifier the format should be as follows:

Prugh, L. & Golden, C. (2013). Data from: Does moonlight increase predation risk? Meta-analysis reveals divergent responses of nocturnal mammals to lunar cycles. Dryad Digital Repository,

Olden, J. (2015). Integrating landscape connectivity and invasion vulnerability to guide offensive and defensive invasive species management. figshare.

Citations from web pages:

Authors may sometimes wish to cite information available from the internet in similar ways to the citation of published literature. In using this option, authors are asked to ensure that:

  • fully authenticated addresses are included in the reference list, along with titles, years and authors of the sources being cited, and the most recent date the site was accessed;
  • the sites or information sources have sufficient longevity and ease of access for others to follow up the citation;
  • the information is of a scientific quality at least equal to that of peer-reviewed information available in learned scientific journals;
  • hard literature sources are used in preference where they are available.

It is likely that official web sites from organisations such as learned societies, government bodies or reputable NGOs will most often satisfy quality criteria.

Data sources (optional)

Authors of submissions that use data from multiple published sources (e.g. if the paper describes a meta-analysis) are encouraged to cite these data sources in the main text of the manuscript. This ensures that these references are fully indexed and their authors are given proper citation credit.

Data sources can be cited in the “Materials and methods” or in the “Data accessibility” sections. If a large number of data sources are used, instead of citing the sources individually, a separate list should be provided after the literature reference list under the heading “Data sources”. The Material and methods section should then refer to this section, i.e. “A list of data sources used in the study are provided in the Data sources section.”

Data from articles published in journals or data with a DOI should follow the normal journal citation format. Citation of datasets without a DOI is permitted, provided the data repository meets the standards set out in our Data Archiving policy. They should be formatted as above but should provide the permanent repository link and accession number for the data.

Figures and tables

Figures, including photographs should be referred to in the article text as Fig. 1, Figs 2–4. References to tables should not be abbreviated i.e. Table 1. All lettering and symbols must be clear and easy to read. Legends should provide enough details for the figure or table to be understood without reference to the main text. Information (e.g. keys) that appear in the figure should not be duplicated in the legend. Figures and Tables should be presented in the manuscript file with their legends and may be either embedded in a relevant position in the main text or placed at the end of the document. Full instructions on preparing your figures are available here.

Supporting Information (optional)

Essential supporting information can be published in the online version of the article. Instructions for the preparation of Supporting Information are given here. Note, however, that the BES does not allow data sets to be uploaded as Supporting Information. All relevant data must be archived in accordance with the BES data archiving policy.

General style points for manuscript preparation

Give Latin names in full at first mention in the main text. Subsequently, the genus name may be abbreviated, except at the beginning of a sentence. If there are many species, cite a Flora or check-list which may be consulted for authorities instead of listing them in the text. Latin names following common names should not be separated by a comma or brackets.

Authors should use the International System of Units (S.I., Systeme International d'Unités; see Quantities, Units and Symbols, 2nd edn (1975) The Royal Society, London). If the paper contains many symbols, they should be defined as early in the text as possible, or within the Materials and methods section. Journal style for time units are: s, min, h, days, weeks, months, years. Use 'L' for litre not 'l' to avoid confusion with 'one'. Use the negative index for units, e.g. number of insects g-1 dry wt (also note there is no period for wt). Probability values should be denoted as P.

Mathematical expressions should be carefully represented. Wherever possible, mathematical equations and symbols should be typed in-line by keyboard entry (using Symbol font for Greek characters, and superscript options where applicable). Make sure that there is no confusion between similar characters like l ('ell') and 1 ('one'). Ensure that expressions are spaced as they should appear. If there are several equations they should be identified by an equation number (i.e. 'eqn 1' after the equation, and cited in the text as 'equation 1').

Numbers from one to nine should be spelled out except when used with units, e.g. two eyes but 10 stomata; 5 °C, 3 years and 5 kg. Do not use excessive numbers of digits when writing a decimal number to represent the mean of a set of measurements. The level of significance implied by numbers based on experimental measurements should reflect, and not exceed, their precision; only rarely can more than 3 figures be justified.

Manuscript Submission


The journal has a fully web-based system for the submission and review of manuscripts. You can log in to our submission system here.

All correspondence should be routed via the Assistant Editor, Jennifer Meyer.

During submission, authors will be asked to confirm that:

  • The work as submitted has not been published or accepted for publication, nor is being considered for publication elsewhere, either in whole or substantial part.

  • All authors and relevant institutions have read the submitted version of the manuscript and approve its submission.

  • All persons entitled to authorship have been so included.

  • The work is original and all necessary acknowledgements have been made.

  • The work conforms to the legal requirements if the country in which it was carried out, including those relating to conservation and welfare, and to the journal’s policy on these matters.

All co-authors will receive confirmation of submission.

Covering letters are optional and should be used to provide additional information not present in the manuscript which is relevant for the editorial office or editors.

Guidelines for uploading a LaTeX formatted manuscript to ScholarOne:

  • For use during the review process, please upload a single PDF that you have generated from your own source files. Please use the file designation “Main Document”.

  • Please do not use pdfTeX to create your PDF. PDFs created using pdfTeX often fail. The latest version of pdfTeX in not currently supported by ScholarOne. If you have used pdfTeX please also upload a PS file.

  • If you receive a provisional accept or minor revision decision, please upload your LaTeX and EPS source files as this stage. Support files should be designated as ‘not for review’. A single .tar or .zip file containing all of your source files and a readme file should be uploaded. If you have used a .bib file to generate your bibliography in LaTeX please do include this in your .tar/.zip archive along with the .bbl and .tex files; this will aid the typesetting process.

Editorial Process


The journal operates a single-blind confidential peer-review process. Author names are not concealed. Editors and reviewers are expected to handle the manuscripts confidentially and must not disclose any details to anyone outside of the review process. Reviewers also have the right to confidentiality and their names are not revealed to authors unless they choose to sign their review. Peer review comments should remain confidential even after a manuscript receives a final decision. Manuscripts are normally reviewed by two independent experts in the relevant area. All correspondence between an author, editor, and peer reviewer should remain in confidence unless explicit consent has been given by all parties, including the journal, or unless there are exceptional ethical or legal circumstances that require identities or details of the correspondence to be revealed. Reviewers are acknowledged through a list of contributing reviewers published each year on the journal website. Reviewers are welcome to claim reviews for the journal on third party sites (such as Publons), but review comments and details of specific papers should not be published.

Option to cascade to Ecology and Evolution

Rejected manuscripts may be offered the option if having the paper, along with any reviews, transferred for consideration by the Editors of Ecology and Evolution. More details are provided on the Editorial Policies page.


Appeals should be sent to the editorial office ( In order to assess your appeal, you must  provide a justification (ideally no longer than one page). This document will be sent to the relevant editorial staff.

Process after Acceptance

Authors of accepted papers are encouraged to submit photos for the journal cover. Please send your photos to the Assistant Editor.

As well as promoting your article through our own resources, we encourage authors to take a role in actively promoting their article. We provide suggestions for activities and guidelines here.  Please inform the Assistant Editor if you are planning a press release for your article

Accepted articles

After an article has been accepted for publication, it will be uploaded online within ~2 working days, BEFORE copyediting, typesetting and proofing (the article will be assigned its DOI (digital object identifier) at this stage, and so can be read and cited as normal). Any final, minor corrections can still be made to the article at the following proofing stage.

Author services

Upon acceptance, authors will receive an e-mail from Wiley's 'Author Services' with a unique link that enables them to register and track their article through the various stages of the production process. Visit for more details.

Licence to publish

Authors of accepted manuscripts will be required to grant Wiley an exclusive licence to publish the article on behalf of the British Ecological Society. Signing an Exclusive Licence Agreement (ELA) is a condition of publication and papers will not be published until a signed form is received. (Papers subject to government or Crown copyright are exempt from this requirement.) Once a paper is accepted, the corresponding author will receive an email from Wiley prompting them to login to Author Services, where, via the Wiley Author Licencing Service (WALS), they will be able to complete the licence agreement on behalf of all co-authors. Please note that the article may appear on Accepted articles (see above) before the licence agreement is completed. The terms and conditions of the ELA can be previewed in the samples associated with the Copyright FAQs here. Do not complete this PDF until you are prompted to do so by Author Services. Please read the licence form carefully before signing: conditions are changed from time to time and may not be the same as the last time you completed one of these forms.

Funder arrangements: A number of funders, including Research Councils UK (RCUK), the NIH and Wellcome Trust, require deposit of the accepted (post-peer-reviewed) version of articles that they fund, if these are not already published via an open access route. The BES journals are all compliant with these mandates and full details of the arrangements can be found here.

Please note that signature of the Exclusive Licence Agreement does not affect ownership of copyright for the material. The copyright statement for all authors will read:

  • © [date] The Author(s).
  • Journal compilation © [date] British Ecological Society.

Open Access option

OnlineOpen is available to authors who wish to make their article available to non-subscribers on publication, or whose funding agency requires grantees to archive the final version of their article. With OnlineOpen, the author, the author's funding agency, or the author's institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication via Wiley Online Library, as well as deposited in the funding agency's preferred archive. The charge for OnlineOpen publication is $3,000 (discounted to $2,250 for papers where the first or corresponding author is a current member of the British Ecological Society, See the full list of terms and conditions here.

Following acceptance, any authors wishing to designate their paper OnlineOpen will be given the option of signing a range of different Creative Commons licences, depending on author choice and funder mandate.

Prior to acceptance there is no requirement to inform the Journal that you intend to publish your paper OnlineOpen.


The corresponding author will receive an e-mail alert containing a link to a web address from where the proof can checked and comments provided online.

Early View

Early View articles are complete, full-text articles published online in advance of their publication in an issue. No further changes to your article are possible from this point. The Early View article is fully citable and carries an online publication date and DOI for citations.


A PDF offprint is available to authors via an automated system integrated with Wiley Author Services. Authors will be directed to retrieve the final PDF file of their article online. A copy of the Publisher's Terms and Conditions for the use of the PDF file will accompany the PDF offprint and the file can only be distributed in accordance with these requirements. If you require paper offprints these may be ordered online through Author Services.