Macroecology Virtual Issue

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). The field of macroecology has evolved considerably since those early days, and papers in the Journal of Animal Ecology have helped drive that evolution. Soon after Brown and Maurer’s influential paper, Kevin Gaston and Tim Blackburn began what turned out to be one of the most impressive collaborations in macroecological research. Indeed, many of their early and influential papers were published in Journal of Animal Ecology (e.g., Gaston and Blackburn 1996, Blackburn and Gaston 1997, Gaston et al. 1997, Blackburn and Gaston 2001). As an aside, some might argue that early work on the factors structuring communities among continents by John Lawton (Lawton 1982) and Brad Hawkins (Hawkins 1990) was actually macroecology before such research had a name, but I’ll save that debate for another time.

Journal of Animal Ecology continues to publish high-impact papers in macroecology. For example, Calosi et al.’s (2010) on the determinants of geographical range in European diving beetles is an ISI Highly Cited paper. More recently, Journal of Animal Ecology has published papers on the influence of humans and the environment on geographical diversity gradients in mammals (Svenning et al. 2011, Torres-Romero et al. 2015), the metabolic theory of ecology (Humphries and McCann 2014), the use of phylogenies in determining spatial variation in community structure (Stevens et al. 2012, Moura et al. In press), and niche evolution and species diversification in birds (Cooney et al. 2016). There are of course other papers that I could mention, but these were the ones that I’ve read (and/or cited) recently.

Finally, I think some ecologists perceive the Journal of Animal Ecology’s focus to be on population ecology. We of course publish on the ecology of populations (and the ecology of individuals and the ecology of communities). But, as I hope I’ve convinced you, we also publish papers on macroecology. And, as someone who sometimes calls himself a macroecologist, I would love to see more macroecological papers in Journal of Animal Ecology. I know many of our readers would too.

Nate Sanders
Senior Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology


Global scale macroecology: interactions between population size, geographic range size and body size in the Anseriformes (1996)
Kevin J. Gaston and Tim M. Blackburn

A critical assessment of the form of the interspecific relationship between abundance and body size in animals (1997)
Tim M. Blackburn and Kevin J. Gaston

Interspecific abundance-range size relationships: an appraisal of mechanisms (1997)
Kevin J. Gaston, Tim M. Blackburn and John H. Lawton

Linking patterns in macroecology (2001)
Tim M. Blackburn and Kevin J. Gaston

Vacant niches and unsaturated communities: a comparison of bracken herbivores at sites on two continents
John H. Lawton

Global patterns of parasitoid assemblage size
Bradford A. Hawkins

What determines a species’ geographical range? Thermal biology and latitudinal range size relationships in European diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae)
Piero Calosi, David T. Bilton, John I. Spicer, Stephen C. Votier and Andrew Atfield

Climate, history and neutrality as drivers of mammal beta diversity in Europe: insights from multiscale deconstruction
Jens-Christian Svenning, Camilla Fløjgaard and Andres Baselga

Untangling human and environmental effects on geographical gradients of mammal species richness: a global and regional evaluation
Erik Joaquin Torres-Romero and Miguel A. Olalla-Tarraga

Metabolic ecology
Murray M. Humphries and Kevin S. McCann

Phylogenetic structure illuminates the mechanistic role of environmental heterogeneity in community organization
Richard D. Stevens, Maria M. Gavilanez, Juan S. Tello and David A. Ray

Environmental constraints on the compositional and phylogenetic beta-diversity of tropical forest snake assemblages
Mario R. Moura, Henrique C. Costa, Antônio J. S. Argôlo and Walter Jetz

Widespread correlations between climatic niche evolution and species diversification in birds
Christopher R. Cooney, Nathalie Seddon and Joseph A. Tobias


Brown, J. H., & Maurer, B. A. (1989) Macroecology: the division of food and space among species on continents. Science 243(4895): 1145.