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In Honour of Dali Guo (1971-2017)

Last updated:
9 December 2017
Richard Bardgett
The editors of the Journal of Ecology were very saddened to learn that Dali Guo passed away aged 46 on the 19th November 2017. Dali is known for his major contributions to plant ecology through advancing our understanding of root ecology and patterns of root traits in terrestrial ecosystems. His research has not only helped to establish the importance of root branching order on root and ecosystem function, but also greatly advanced understanding of the global organization of root traits.

Many of Dali’s papers were published in journals of the British Ecological Society, especially Journal of Ecology, for who he served as an Associate Editor from 2010. In recognition of his far reaching contribution to plant ecology we have selected 10 of his papers published in the Journal of Ecology, Functional Ecology and Methods in Ecology and Evolution. An obituary for Dali, written by Richard Bardgett and his colleague Zeqing Ma, can also be found on our journal blog:

Open Data

23 October 2017
The British Ecological Society journals have long supported making the data associated with papers published in the journals publically available and since January 2014 this has been a requirement for publication. To facilitate the archiving of data the BES journals are integrated with the Dryad Digital Repository and through this integration the BES journals offer a smooth and easy process for authors to archive data, with costs covered by the Society.  To celebrate this integration for Open Access Week 2017 we have compiled this Virtual Issue presenting the papers with the most-downloaded datasets from the Dryad Digital Repository in the five BES journals. Dryad’s mission is to promote the preservation and availability of the data underlying findings in the scientific literature for future research and educational use. Data stored in Dryad can be re-used in many different ways such as exploring new analysis methodologies, re-purposing data for new research questions unanticipated by the original authors, performing synthetic studies such as formal meta-analyses or even as teaching resources. Read the full Virtual Issue here.

In Honour of Sandra Lavorel

Last updated:
4 October 2017
Richard Bardgett, Senior Editor
The Journal of Ecology editors are delighted to honour Sandra Lavorel in our continuing Eminent Ecologist series. Sandra is research director at Laboratoire d'écologie alpine (LECA), Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Grenoble, France. Sandra has made major contributions to the field of plant functional ecology, especially the use of trait-based approaches and their application to understanding biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services in the context of global change. In recognition of her work, we have asked Sandra to select 10 of her most influential papers published in Journal of Ecology. These are just a small selection of a long list of highly cited and influential papers that Sandra has published, but they give a flavour of her significant contribution to the emergence of plant trait-based approaches and their application to understanding biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services. We very much hope you enjoy reading this selection of Sandra’s papers.

Aquatic Ecology 2017

Last updated:
7 September 2017
Nessa O’Connor

Chair, BES Aquatic Group
There is a perception within the aquatic community, not without substance (see Menge et al. 2009), that the work of aquatic ecologists is often unfairly overlooked and their studies are sometimes dismissed because of a bias against studies that are inextricably linked to their particular study system. The notion that studies founded in aquatic ecosystems are somehow of limited interest to the wider ecological community seems to persist, despite many reviews* (see references) showing how the general field of ecology benefits from better integration of terrestrial and aquatic ecology (and ecologists). We would like to remind reviewers and editors to consider this when assessing a paper for publication based on its suitability for a journal. Aquatic ecologists must continue to publish in journals traditionally perceived as avenues for terrestrially-oriented studies. In addition, when writing and reviewing manuscripts, we must ensure that the most appropriate studies are cited, from both aquatic and terrestrial systems, thus, informing a wider community of ecologists of the often ground-breaking studies from cross-disciplinary approaches.

This Virtual Issue, launched at the 2017 BES Aquatic Group science meeting to illustrate how theoretical, empirical and synthetic studies based in aquatic ecosystems are leading the way in many fields of ecology well beyond the scope of the particular study system. All of the BES journals publish outstanding ecological science from all realms. The BES also has several Special Interest Groups which support and promote particular cross-cutting themes, such as macroecology, climate change, and quantitative ecology, and ecosystem-specific groups, including forest, agriculture and aquatic ecology.

Invasive Species

10 March 2017

Edited by 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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.