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Forest Ecology in Asia

Last updated:
5 July 2017
David Gibson, Executive Editor
The editors of Journal of Ecology have put together this Virtual Issue to showcase some of the recent forest ecology research from Asia published in the journal, and in particular, our Biological Flora of the British Isles (BFBI) series. The BFBI accounts provide a concise summary of the ecology of British species, but inevitably, many of the accounts are for species whose native or invasive range spreads globally including areas of Asia, e.g., the four forest species accounts included here: Fagus sylvatica, Fraxinus excelsior, Milium effusum and Robinia pseudoacacia

In addition, we have selected 17 cutting-edge forest ecology articles published in the journal over the past two years. 8 of the papers in this Virtual Issue are by researchers based in Asia or working on Asian ecosystems, most of them in China. The 9 additional papers are recent forest ecology articles to highlight how this Asian work ‘fits right in’ to advancing plant ecology. For example, one of these papers “The role of transcriptomics linked with responses to light environment on seedling mortality in a subtropical forest, China” by Han et al., is included in our recent Special Feature: Transcriptomic and Genomic Analyses of Communities

The topics covered by these 17 papers are very broad, although a theme of global change is evident through many (e.g. Zhang et al.) in addition to the use of advanced methodology and techniques (e.g. phylogenetic analyses in Zhu et al. and Chang-Yang et al.). For comparison, a couple of the non-Asian forest ecology papers in this collection illustrate novel approaches that we would hope to see more of in the journal, such as Needham et al.’s combined use of integral population models with individual-based models to understand pathogen-caused tree mortality, and Vieilledent et al.’s use of bioclimatic models to investigate tropical forest carbon stocks.

The papers in this Virtual Issue are placed in four groups: the four BFBI accounts, 7 studies from tropical/subtropical forests, 3 studies from boreal forest, and 7 that more generally report studies investigating the response of forest species to biotic and abiotic factors. We hope that these papers encourage submission of similar articles to the journal, and invite you to visit the journal blog, as well as follow Journal of Ecology on Twitter and Facebook.

Ecology in an Evolving World – The Dawn of Evolutionary Ecology

Last updated:
26 June 2017
Mark Rees, Senior Editor
Ecologists and evolutionary biologists for many decades happily coexisted largely ignoring each other. This separation was clearest in theory where ecological models assumed fixed, constant parameters, so evolution could not occur, and population genetics models assumed fixed selection coefficients which summarised all underlying ecological process that influence fitness. To an extent this reflected the obvious fact that ecological and evolutionary process occurred on very different time scales – ecology fast, evolution slow. This has now changed and a large amount of theory now looks at evolutionary dynamics in ecologically realistic models. This led to the idea that evolution need not be slow, and could in fact influence ecological dynamics – the so-called eco-evolutionary feedback. This change in mindset has been accompanied by rapid advances in techniques which now allow high throughput sequencing of species or indeed individuals undergoing ecological interactions – this combined with the “omics” revolution is transforming ecology. This is the dawn of Evolutionary Ecology where ecology and evolution are studied on an equal footing. In this virtual issue we showcase studies illustrating how diverse studies in Evolutionary Ecology are, and also launch a new Evolutionary Ecology section in Journal of Ecology.

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.

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.

Plants in a Changing World: Global Change and Plant Ecology

24 April 2017
Amy Austin, Senior Editor

Human activity is affecting every corner of the planet – not just climatic change observed as altered precipitation and increasing global temperature. The impacts of land use change, invasion of non-native species and even political conflicts can have wide-ranging and often major effects on plant ecology. In this virtual issue, we have collected a set of papers published in Journal of Ecology that focus on the wide range of ways in which human beings are causing changes in terrestrial and aquatic environments, and some of the means by which plants are responding to these changes.  

Marine Ecology

5 October 2015
Edited by Carol Thornber, Amy Austin & David Gibson
We have selected 20 papers on marine ecology that have been published in the Journal of Ecology over the past four years. These span a wide range of ecological topics, including (but not limited to) biodiversity, herbivory, carbon sequestration, genetic diversity, and climate change. Similarly, these studies span a range of marine habitats, such as salt marshes, seagrass beds, rocky shores, and pelagic systems. One article in this Virtual Issue (Vergés et al. 2014) was featured as an Editor's Choice, as it documents the devastating impacts of a range-shifting herbivore, the tropical rabbitfish, in the eastern Mediterranean. 

In Honour of Deborah Goldberg

1 April 2015
Edited by David Gibson, Richard Bardgett, Amy Austin and Mark Rees
The Editors of the Journal of Ecology are pleased to honour Professor Deborah Goldberg in our continuing Eminent Ecologist series. Deborah is the Elzada U. Clover Collegiate Professor and Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, USA. More than that, Deborah is a hugely influential community ecologist having published a large body of highly cited work investigating the processes underlying patterns in plant community dynamics. In recognition of her work we have selected 10 of her most influential papers published in the Journal of Ecology. To provide some context, Deborah has written a fascinating post for the Journal of Ecology blog. In addition, I was fortunate enough to interview Deborah in August 2014 during which we reflected over the insights, and controversies, arising from her work, as well as some of the non-ecological work that she has been involved with. This interview is available as a podcast.

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.

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.

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.

In Honour of Mark Westoby

Last updated:
21 March 2017
Mark Rees, Editor, Journal of Ecology
The Editors of the Journal of Ecology are pleased to honour Professor Mark Westoby in our continuing Eminent Ecologist series. Mark is the Australian Laureate Professor and leader of Genes to Goescience Research Center at Macquarie University, Sydney. Mark is a hugely influential ecologist having published a substantial oeuvre of highly cited work covering a very wide range of subjects from self-thinning to traits shift along environmental gradients, and everything in between. In recognition of his work we have selected 12 of his most influential papers published in the Journal of Ecology. To provide some context, Mark has written a number of fascinating posts for the Journal of Ecology blog (which will be available in the first week of May 2016), providing information on the background to the work and many people involved – and Mark if you’re reading this, yes you have passed with flying colours, and not driveled on too much!

We hope that you will enjoy reading, or perhaps even rereading in some cases, the selection of Mark’s papers in this Virtual Issue that have been published within the Journal of Ecology.

Plant Ecogenomics

Last updated:
21 March 2017
Nate Swenson, Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology
The editors of the Journal of Ecology are pleased to present this Virtual Issue on plant ecogenomics. The technical, computational and financial barriers that have previously limited the broad scale integration of information generated by massively parallel/next-generation sequencing technology into ecology have been substantially eroded. Ecology now stands at the brink of a revolution where our ability to quantify individual-level nucleotide and gene expression variation and microbiomes on non-model systems in experimental and field settings will generate fascinating new insights into mechanisms and outcomes of species interactions with their environments.

We have selected 9 papers that leverage DNA sequencing and/or 'omics approaches in ecology that have been published in the Journal of Ecology with 6 of these appearing in the last 2 years. The work spans a range of methodologies (e.g. pyrosequencing to microarrays) and topics (e.g. plant volatile emissions to root microbiomes). While some work focuses on well-known temperate model plant species or their close relatives, other work included in this Virtual Issue comes from less well-known lineages from the temperate zone to the tropics.

The integration of 'omics into ecology has generally been limited to a small set of model species or their close relatives and meta-genomics approaches. Presently, and certainly going forward, this will no longer be the case and much more emphasis will be placed on testing mechanistic ecological hypotheses using multiple non-model species. While we 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 the Journal that use the most up to date methodoology and leverage large 'omic data from model and non-model organisms to address questions of broad interest to ecology. We invite you to visit the Journal's blog, as well as follow the Journal of Ecology on Twitter and Facebook.

National Tree Week 2016

1 November 2016
Edited by the BES journal editorial teams
National Tree Week celebrates tree planting within local communities. This virtual issue contains recent papers from BES Journals that highlight the global importance of trees and forests as habitat for species from insects to primates, and in meeting human needs for fuel and agriculture. The selected papers also demonstrate novel methods scientists are using to study trees and forests.

Charismatic Orchids

1 October 2015
Edited by Anthony Davy & David Gibson
To highlight and celebrate this achievement, we have compiled a Virtual Issue of 32 papers published in the Journal of Ecology that focus on the ecology of terrestrial orchids. The largest single component comes from the Biological Flora of the British Isles. This series of autecological accounts has been running since 1941 and currently extends to 280 articles. The 12 accounts presented here include arguably the rarest British species of all (Epipogium aphyllum) and some of the most common orchids (e.g. Neottia ovata). The former, as a non-photosynthetic mycotroph, appears above ground only very erratically, as ghostly flowering spikes in the deep gloom of woodland. Yet this is the extreme of a continuum, and the capacity of many terrestrial orchids to remain effectively dormant below ground as mycotrophic tubers for one, or more, years has helped until recently to obscure their demography. Demographic studies, including those examining the influence of weather and climate on dormancy, represent another theme of the papers presented in this Virtual Issue. Nearly all terrestrial orchids have mycorrhizal associations that are distinctive to the Orchidaceae; indeed the microscopically immature seeds would never be able to emerge above ground without it. Hence this has been another rich vein for research that is represented by a group of papers here. The production of seeds in orchids is, in general, found to be pollen-limited, which appears to be something of a paradox in the context of the highly evolved relationships that many have with pollinating insects. Consequently, the final group of papers deals with reproductive biology, including pollination, and the possible impacts of a changing climate on its phenology.