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BES Early Career Researcher Awards

28 March 2017
Each year the BES awards a prize for the best paper, in each of its journals, by an author at the start of their research career. This Virtual Issue brings together the winning and highly commended papers selected by the editors from journal issues published in 2016. Read the papers here.

Invasive Species

1 March 2017
Invasive species represent a serious conservation and social problem. The abundance and geographical distribution of invasive organisms continues to increase globally and considerable efforts are currently devoted to better understand the current and potential invasive species and their impacts, as well as to explore which are the most effective management actions and policy decisions to prevent further problems. This virtual issue showcases recent work on invasive species published in the journals of the British Ecological Society. We grouped these studies into three non-exclusive themes that showcase the latest approaches to understand and manage invasive species.

A first theme is defined by papers that focus on characterizing what makes the perfect invasive species (invasiveness). These studies go beyond trait comparisons and explore changes in population dynamics, the role of genetic mixture, and the evolution of adaptations, also presenting new modelling approaches and improved datasets.

A second theme includes studies which address impacts on ecological processes. These papers evaluate the effects of invasives on species interactions (particularly of plants with herbivores, pollinators, and soil mutualistic fungi), explore broad scale ecosystem and community impacts, propose new metrics, and characterize the synergistic consequences of combined impacts like climate change and invasives.

The final theme includes studies that focus on management. These publications present new and more robust decision tools, showcase the application of methods like e-DNA sampling and spatial-explicit models to manage invasives across different stages, particularly establishment and spread, and highlight the importance of considering social costs and benefits and of engaging with practitioners.

Plant-pollinator interactions

1 January 2017
S. Nicholson & G. Wright

This virtual issue of Functional Ecology gathers 10 papers appearing in the journal during the past two years that address plant-pollinator relationships. The compilation is intended to coincide with the special feature Plant-pollinator interactions from flower to landscape.

The Ecology of Exercise

1 January 2017
The editorial teams of Functional Ecology and the Journal of Animal Ecology and Functional Ecology Associate Editor Professor Tony Williams are pleased to present this Virtual Issue on The Ecology of Exercise. This Virtual issue compliments the SICB symposium "The Ecology of Exercise: Mechanisms Underlying Individual Variation in Movement Behavior, Activity or Performance".

It is widely assumed that many activities that free-living animals perform, such as migration, must represent ‘hard work’, with individuals differing in their ability to support, or deal with the costs of, high intensity activity (e.g. elevated metabolic rate, increased oxidative stress). But how hard do free-living animals work during more routine activities, especially those that appear less obviously ‘intense’ but which still have important fitness consequences, such as daily foraging, escaping predators (or mates), pursuing prey or engaging in mating displays. What determines how hard individuals will work on specific activities? Is “exercise”, defined as activity that improves or maintains performance, a useful paradigm to apply to routine movement behaviour in free-living animals? Can animals work too hard, such that they pay costs of high levels of activity, and do concepts such as “over-training”, common in the human sports medicine literature, provide a model for costs of high levels of performance in free living animals?

Until recently, much work on “exercise" has been based in the laboratory (e.g. wheel- or treadmill-running in mammals and reptiles, birds flying in wind tunnels) and has been divorced from ecological context. To what extent these systems provide good models for understanding activity in free-living animals (during routine behaviours) remains unclear; do they help us understand the physiology of exercise in free-living animals? However, the rapid pace of recent technological advances (geolocators, GPS, accelerometers, automated tracking systems) are now giving biologists an unprecedented ability to track the behaviour of free-living animals 24/7. This will allow researchers to directly address questions of individual variation in movement behaviour, the specific physiological mechanisms underlying this variation and the fitness consequences of variation in movement.

We have selected a set of papers from Functional Ecology and the Journal of Animal Ecology, published in the last 3 years. These papers cover a wide range of taxa and a wide range of movement behaviours, and include several that illustrate the value of new tracking technologies, or analytical approaches. While the aim for this Virtual Issue is to generate discussions and to provide a sample of research published in this field, we hope the issue encourages future submissions to these Journals that utilise the power of new bio-tracking technologies, integrating behaviour, ecology, physiology and evolutionary biology to tackle broad questions about the ecology of exercise.

Ecology and Evolution in Ireland

9 November 2016

Edited by Yvonne M. Buckley, Hugh B. Feeley, Paul Giller, Ian Montgomery and John Quinn

Researchers based in Ireland or working on Irish ecosystems have had a long history of association with the British Ecological Society and its journals. During his BES Presidential address the English born Amyan MacFadyen, then based in Northern Ireland, had “some thoughts on the behavior of ecologists” (Macfadyen 1975). Macfadyen appealed for a more integrative and systems based approach, which resonates increasingly as technological advances proliferate. While differences in funding, research priorities and cultures have naturally driven diversity in research outputs across Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland, the recently founded Irish Ecological Association brings together ecologists and evolutionary biologists from across the island as a partner organization of the BES. Given current political uncertainties following the “Brexit” referendum in the UK it is vital that cross-border UK and Irish scientific collaborations and funding continue to be strengthened. The new partnership between IEA and BES comes at an important time for ecological science in these islands.

The full introduction to this Virtual Issue can be downloaded here.

30 years of Functional Ecology

1 November 2016
To celebrate 30 years of Functional Ecology current journal Editors Charles Fox, Alan Knapp, Craig White and Ken Thompson have each chosen their favourite papers from our back catalogue. We asked the Editors to choose papers they feel have had a major impact on their field and that continue to be relevant today. The resulting eclectic selection spans the full history and broad scope of the journal. The Editors' selections and their reasons for choosing them are included below. All the papers are free to access here.

Towards a mechanistic understanding of global change ecology

1 November 2016
As part of Functional Ecology's 30th anniversary celebrations, the Journal is holding a special Thematic Topic at this year's BES annual meeting in Liverpool. The theme of the thematic is "Towards a mechanistic understanding of global change ecology". Functional Ecology has published some seminal work in this area and, using our back content as a guide, speakers from our editorial board will look to the future of the topic with a series of exciting talks starting from at the organism level, moving on to communities and ending at the whole ecosystem scale .

For this Virtual Issue, we asked each of our speakers to look through the Functional Ecology archive and select three or four papers that informed their talk, and to tell us why each paper has been selected. The speakers and the subject of their talks are listed below. All the papers are free to access.

Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene

1 August 2016
The theme of the 2016 Ecological Society of America meeting is "Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene". The BES journals team agree that given our rapidly changing climate it is more important than ever to increase our understanding of basic ecological principals so that we can predict species responses to changing and novel ecosystems. All the BES journals welcome submissions that attempt to solve these problems. This Virtual Issue compiles some of our best research into the ecology of this new epoch and we hope that the below articles will be of interest to researchers and managers working in this important area.

Endangered Species

1 May 2016
To celebrate Endangered Species Day 2016 the BES journals have compiled this virtual issue on the topic. The papers below are drawn from the journals and provide examples of the latest research on endangered species. They cover a broad range of plants, animals and insects as well as terrestrial and aquatic systems. We hope that this selection of papers will be of interest to researchers and stakeholders in this important and fascinating field.

Demography Behind the Population

1 March 2016
The British Ecological Society journals in collaboration with our partner open access journal Ecology and Evolution are pleased to present a cross-journal virtual issue celebrating the sheer breadth of demography research published across our journals.

This virtual issue Demography Behind the Population highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the field as well as providing added context for the publication of our recently published cross-journal Special Feature Demography Beyond the Population showcasing the latest in demography research and linking several disciplines and scales across ecology and evolution. This Special Feature is first time that the BES journals have collaborated in this unique way. You can read the lay summaries for Functional Ecology's contribution to the special feature here.

On Tuesday 1 March at 1pm GMT we are hosting a live webinar in association with the Special Feature. It is free to register for the webinar via the BES website. The webinar will also be available online to watch afterwards as well.

Open Access Week 2015

25 October 2015
To coincide with the 8th Annual International Open Access Week, we are delighted to bring together a selection of recent open access papers published in all five BES Journals. All of these papers have been published through the Online Open programme. The BES offers its members a 25% discount towards the cost of the Online Open scheme. Read the papers here.

Making the most of microbes

1 June 2015
Microorganisms carry out a large number of fundamental processes that underpin ecosystem function. Aside from their importance as symbionts or pathogens of all macro-organisms, microbes influence ecosystem function through the decomposition of organic matter and the subsequent cycling of carbon and nutrients. The enormous diversity and high functional overlap of soil microbes in particular makes this an exciting but challenging area of research in functional ecology. Over 20 years ago, Fenchel (1992) delivered a Tansley Lecture on what ecologists could learn from microbes. This virtual issue takes a look at some of the subsequent advances in ecosystem research, which have been made possible by considering microbial processes and populations within the bigger picture of ecosystem function

Early Career Researcher Awards 2014

22 March 2015
Each year the BES awards a prize for the best paper, in each of its journals, by an author at the start of their research career. This Virtual Issue brings together the winning and highly commended papers selected by the editors from journal issues published in 2014. Read the papers here.

Phylogenetics in community ecology research

A. Narwani, B. Matthews, J. Fox and P. Venail
During the last decade, the number of studies incorporating phylogenetic information into community ecology research exploded. As gene sequencing gets cheaper and the computational power to analyze these sequences improves, well defined and robust phylogenies for all types of organisms are becoming available. Thus, ecologists have now access to detailed information about the evolutionary relatedness among interacting species as well as the amount of phylogenetic diversity a community harbors.