Virtual Issues

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Macroecology

Published:
5 July 2017
Jim Brown and Brian Maurer published a paper in Science more than 25 years ago that formalized macroecology as the ‘study of ecological patterns and processes that characterize the assembly of continental biotas’ (Brown and Maurer 1989). Read the full virtual issue here.

The Ecology of Exercise

Published:
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.

Invasive Species

Published:
1 March 2017
Manuela González-Suárez and Pablo González-Moreno
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.

BES Early Career Researcher Awards

Published:
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.