Shining a Light on Coastal Light Pollution


Dogwhelks on the rocky shore. ©Martin Talbot.

The creation of artificial light has dramatically changed the natural environment.  Light pollution from buildings, vehicles and streetlights has the potential to alter the behaviour of many animals.  An iconic example involves the disorientation of hatchling turtles; normally guided to the sea by natural light, the baby turtles instead end up on beach promenades, hotel grounds, and busy roads.  Now new research published in Journal of Animal Ecology has discovered that other, less well-known marine species are also affected – with the potential for dramatic consequences. Continue reading

Volume 86:2 a slideshow

86_2 cover

A Mediterranean mouflon female monitored by a GPS collar in southern France (Caroux-Espinouse massif): its movements are largely determined by familiarity and linear features, with consequence on the design of its home range. Photo credit: Pascal Marchand.

Issue 86:2 is now out including TWO In Focus papers! The first is by Jason Chapman titled “Honey buzzards don’t always make a beeline” and looks at the paper  “Seasonal detours by soaring migrants shaped by wind regimes along the East Atlantic Flyway” by Wouter Vansteelant et al.

The second “Bold perch live life in the fast lane” by Bart Adriaenssens looks at the paper by Shinnosuke Nakayama et al. titled “Fast–slow life history is correlated with individual differences in movements and prey selection in an aquatic predator in the wild“.

We also have papers on climate ecology, community ecology, population ecology, spatial ecology and evolutionary ecology.

To make the most of all the great photos from our authors below is a slideshow of the best images. Continue reading

2016 Elton Prize Winner: Rob Salguero-Gómez

2016-Elton-Prize-200x200The Elton Prize is awarded by the British Ecological Society each year for the best paper in Journal of Animal Ecology written by an early career author at the start of their research career. We are delighted to announce that Rob Salguero-Gómez has won the 2016 Elton Prize for his paper: COMADRE: a global data base of animal demography.

Demographic information is key for answering many of the questions evolutionary ecologists, population biologists, and scientists involved in management and conservation have to tackle. Continue reading

International Women’s day

International Women_s day

Today is International Women’s day, an annual event celebrating the achievements of women all over the world and helping to drive positive change to achieve gender parity.

The latest Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum reveals that progress towards closing the gender gap over the past year has been ambiguous at best. In the UK, for example, the pace of change has slowed over the past three years.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won’t close entirely for another 170 years. In response, the 2017 IWD campaign is asking everyone to #BeBoldForChange to spur faster change.

In this blog post, some of our female Associate Editors offer their perspectives on the recent changes they have observed for women in science, and share the experiences that shaped and inspired their careers. Continue reading

What makes a great paper for Journal of Animal Ecology?

In this video Executive Editor Ken Wilson discusses what he is looking for from a great paper for Journal of Animal Ecology. The message from Ken is that papers must have a clear structure, clear message, clear narrative & be genuinely novel.

Ken goes onto discuss our popular feature papers including Synthesis and ‘How to…’ papers. Ken discusses how synthesis papers are reviews focused on long term cases studies of particular systems or environments  while ‘How to…’ papers are methodological papers aimed at readers new to to a field and are designed as a guide of how to us a particular technique.

If you are interested in submitting a Synthesis or ‘How to…’ paper our guidelines for these paper types can be found here. If you would like to discuss a proposal please contact the editorial office at

Bringing species back, New Zealand style

A recently ringed male hihi

Male hihi  (photo credit: Leila Walker)

In the heart of New Zealand’s Waikato region, rising out of a sea of gently rolling pastoral farmland, is an imposing remnant of ancient forest that draws you in. Maungatautari Mountain. In many ways, this 34 km2 rugged pocket of land reflects the story of New Zealand as a whole: an isolated landmass brimming with uniquely wonderful life, now engaged in a spirited fight back after introduced pests threatened the existence of native flora and fauna. Central to this resurgence is New Zealand’s pioneering use of pest eradication and native species reintroduction.

In this, Maungatautari is leading the way. The world’s longest pest-proof fence stretches for 47 km around the mountain’s perimeter. Completed in 2006, it has ensured the eradication of all mammalian pests, with the exception of mice. The exclusion of the likes of cats, rats, mustelids and possums – to name just a few of the offenders – has paved the way for the reintroduction of a rich variety of native wildlife long missing from Maungatautari’s slopes. Continue reading

Volume 86:1 a slideshow


Male Teleopsis dalmanni showing his sexually selected eyestalks. Photo by Rob Knell.

Issue 86:1 is now out including an editorial announcing some new journal initiatives a paper on ‘How to…’ include genetic groups in quantitative genetic animal models by Matthew Wolak and Jane Reid and of course a great collection of original research papers.

The In Focus written by Ruth Hufbauer looks at the paper by Natalie Wagner on how the genetic mixture of multiple source populations accelerates invasive range expansion.

To make the most of all the great photos from our authors below is a slideshow of the best images.

Read the full January 2017 issue here. Continue reading

We are recruiting for a blog editor

86_1_coverWe are looking for an Associate Editor for this blog. The aim of the blog is to provide the latest journal updates and, in particular, to serve as a forum for informative and stimulating discussion of topics in the field of animal ecology. Posts are variously contributed by the Senior Editors, the Assistant Editor and other members of the Editorial board.

The Blog Editor will be responsible for commissioning content for the blog and will work closely with the rest of the Journal’s editorial board and editorial office to determine regular content. We aim to publish 3–4 posts per month. In the rare cases where there is disagreement regarding content, all final Editorial decisions will rest with the Editorial Office. Continue reading

What will the wasp plague be like this year?

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “The long-term population dynamics of common wasps in their native and invaded” by Phil Lester et al.

New research from Victoria University of Wellington has revealed the population of the common wasp is amplified by spring weather, with warmer and drier springs often meaning more wasps and wasp stings in summer. Continue reading

Video: Animal host–microbe interactions special feature open call – find out more

Deadline EXTENDED to 20 January 2017!

Animal Ecology In Focus

There is only one month to go before the open call for papers for the special feature on animal host-microbe interactions closes. In this video Executive Editor Ken Wilson chats about what types of papers he is looking for and why he believes this topic is going to be a growth area in the future.

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Get the BES moving! BES Movement Ecology Special Interest Group Launch

movement-sigMovement is fundamental to organismal life and constitutes the mechanistic link explaining the patterns observed in many ecological processes. Measures of animal movement, e.g. dispersal, residence time, home range size and overlap, form the basis of fundamental ecology theories and are essential for managing wildlife populations or predicting disease transmission rates. Hence research on the patterns, causes and consequences of the movement of organisms has pervaded all fields of ecology, as reflected by the large number of movement-related publications in the BES Journals, including Special Features (e.g. see here) and Virtual Issues. This wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary and highly popular field of research has recently been conceptually unified under the term ‘Movement Ecology’ and we are very excited to launch the new BES Movement Ecology Special Interest Group (SIG) this week at the Annual Meeting in Liverpool!

We aim to (i) act as a central forum to unite researchers and help clarify conceptual and methodological misconceptions, (ii) attract new Movement Ecology researchers, from within and outside the discipline of ecology and biosciences and (iii) guide the development of novel research, especially interdisciplinary research combining technical, computational, and theoretical developments to obtain a refined understanding of the role of organism movements in driving ecological processes. To do so, we will organise regular meetings, workshops and training initiatives, and online and ‘in vivo’ events.

Now, some of you may ask ‘why yet another SIG?’. We strongly believe that it fills a quite ‘empty SIG niche’! So, it could certainly be argued that existing BES SIGs include several aspects of movement ecology – such as the Quantitative Ecology, Conservation Ecology or Aquatic Ecology SIGs – but none has a remit broad enough to encompass the wide range of issues included in Movement Ecology. For example, the development of novel statistical or computational methods is a crucial aspect of Movement Ecology and is certainly the purview of the Quantitative Ecology SIG, yet studies investigating behavioural strategies or sensory capacities of moving animals or bacteria are not. Quantifying animal movements is a key part of many management plans, hence would fall under the remit of the Conservation SIG, but not so the development of the novel tagging and biologging technology which is currently revolutionizing the field, or the development of theoretical frameworks unifying movement processes of animals, plants and microbes. As such, we aim to attract and unite researchers from cross-disciplinary fields, including physics, mathematics, conservation, engineering, geography and sports science.

What we plan to do?

In general, we aim to provide a basis for regular communications and discussions through a dedicated blog that we aim to launch with guest posts by group members and movement ecology researchers. We will set up also an email list, complemented by a Twitter feed and Facebook  group, each featuring news, group activities (including discussions on specific topics), job and training opportunities. We are also planning to set up an annual competition for best graphical/video representation of movement ecology principlaes/data/findings. Most importantly, we are all open to your suggestions!

A key feature will be an annual workshop meeting. For example, this will allow us to introduce new quantitative and analytical methods and provide training in the computational approaches and statistical theory necessary to implement these methods to their fullest. Other ideas include public engagement activities to divulgate research finding, for example by collaborating with ‘Pint of Science’, ‘Soapbox Science’, Quirks & Quarks in Canada, the NPR’s Science Friday in the US, and similar initiatives in Australia and New Zealand. On a longer term, we plan to host a “Questions, Tools and Theory for Movement Ecology” workshop open to all levels that addresses topics including (i) the development of novel sensor technology, (ii) ‘big data’ methods to process the large amounts of movement data collected by new technologies, and (iii) the development of novel mathematical and statistical frameworks to accommodate the biological information provided by new technologies (a key topic hampering progress in the field). Similarly, we would like to organize a dedicated early career workshop on the theme of “Movement Ecology: From Individual Movements to Ecosystem Consequences”, aimed at PhDs, post-doctoral associates, and Early Career Fellows.

So join us this year at #BES2016 for our launch event on Tuesday evening before the gala dinner, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Keep an eye out for #BESmove as we share exciting new projects and research at this year’s annual conference. And, most importantly, get involved! We will also be looking for student representatives (we’re looking at you, undergraduate and graduate movement ecologists!), and for new members ready to explore the implications of movement for their research projects. We look forward to seeing you at #BES2016 – and afterwards!

Luca Börger; Samantha Patrick; Theoni Photopoulou; Jonathan Potts; Garrett Street; Marie Auger-Méthé; Hawthorne Beyer; Hamish Campbell

Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change

robpbk9o2086-editThis post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change by Shawn H. Smith et al.

Milder winters have led to earlier growing seasons and noticeable effects on the breeding habits of some predatory birds, according to research by Boise State biologists Shawn Smith and Julie Heath, in collaboration with Karen Steenhof, and The Peregrine Fund’s Christopher McClure. Continue reading

Video: Animal host–microbe interactions special feature open call – find out more

There is only one month to go before the open call for papers for the special feature on animal host-microbe interactions closes. In this video Executive Editor Ken Wilson chats about what types of papers he is looking for and why he believes this topic is going to be a growth area in the future.

Continue reading

Competitive males are a blessing and a curse

jae-2016-00123-r2-2This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Sexual selection can both increase and decrease extinction probability: reconciling demographic and evolutionary factors” by Carlos Martínez-Ruiz and Robert J. Knell Issued by Queen Mary, University of London Press Office.

Showy ornaments used by the male of the species in competition for mates, such as the long tail of a peacock or shaggy mane of a lion, could indicate a species’ risk of decline in a changing climate, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Continue reading

Ecology meets immunology at the biggest insect conference in the world

In late September, as the UK was enjoying the last vestiges of summer I was lucky enough to head to Orlando in Florida where the 25th International Congress of Entomology was being held under the banner of “Entomology without borders”. This year, Orlando welcomed over 7000 delegates working in all areas of entomology; the largest gathering of entomologists at any one time – as far as we know! I first attended this enormous event, held every 4 years, as a young PhD student in 2000, in the beautiful city of Iguassu Falls in southern Brazil. I have been able to attend 3 of the 4 subsequent meetings, and co-hosted a session on Ecological immunology of Insects in each one, first in Brisbane, Australia (2004), then in Durban, South Africa (2008), and finally in Orlando. Much as I would like to have a clean sweep, maternity leave put paid to my plans to attend the 2012 meeting in Seoul, South Korea.


The number of hits for the terms “ecological immunology” or “eco-immunology” in Web of Science from 2000 to 2015. The red dots represent the percentage of papers with the word “ecology” that also used the word “immunology”.

Ecological immunology aims to understand how ecological pressures have shaped the evolution and expression of the immune system.  In 2000, this was a very new concept that was just gaining ground in the ecological literature. Over the last 16 years this has grown into an established field. A quick search on Web of Science for the terms “Ecological immunology” or “Eco-immunology” shows a steady increase in publications over time. Of course, this does not find all of the papers in the field of eco-immunology, just those that specifically use that term, but it is indicative of how the field has rapidly grown. Continue reading

Research into extreme weather effects may explain recent butterfly decline


Common Blue butterfly. Photo by Dr Aldina Franco.

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Sensitivity of UK butterflies to local climatic extremes: which life stages are most at risk?” by Osgur McDermott Long et al. Issued by University of East Anglia.


Increasingly frequent extreme weather events could threaten butterfly populations in the UK and could be the cause of recently reported butterfly population crashes, according to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Researchers investigated the impact of Extreme Climatic Events (ECEs) on butterfly populations. The study shows that the impact can be significantly positive and negative, but questions remain as to whether the benefits outweigh the negative effects.

While it is well known that changes to the mean climate can affect ecosystems, little is known about the impact of short-term extreme climatic events (ECEs) such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall or droughts. Continue reading

Volume 85:6 a slideshow


Male Montagu’s Harrier Edwin on the hunt for grasshoppers near Djilas, Senegal. Ellinor Schlaich et al.

Issue 85:6 is now online and for the first time we have two In Focus papers in the issue as we no longer want to limit ourselves to championing only one great paper!

The First is by Pedro Jardano and takes a look at the paper by Sazatornil et al. on morphological matches and the assembly of mutualistic hawkmoth–plant networks. The second is by Shawn Wilder and Punidan Jeyasingh and they review the paper by Zhang et al. on how warming and predation risk shape stoichiometry.

To make the most of all the great photos from our authors we have included a slideshow of the best images.

Read the full November 2016 issue here.

Continue reading

Animal host–microbe interactions Special Feature Open call – Only 2 months to go!

There armicrobal-large-web-ade only 2 months left to submit your paper to the Journal of Animal Ecology Special Feature on animal host–microbe interactions. Through this open call, launched by Executive Editor Ken Wilson in June, we aim to open up the process of publishing Special Features by inviting potential authors from emerging fields to contribute. We welcome papers that take differing, or even contrary, viewpoints as we hope to publish a broad spectrum of ideas on animal host–microbe interactions. The Journal has a long history of publishing papers on parasite and disease ecology, as far back as the first issue of the journal in 1932 with a paper by A.D. Middleton on “Syphilis as a disease of wild rabbits and hares” and most recently on the blog we have an excellent post by Associate Editor Andy Fenton on “The role of ecology in managing vector-borne diseases: Zika and beyond”. Continue reading

Drifting birds of prey use predictable winds during migration

European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus soaring in the wind.

European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus soaring in the wind.

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Seasonal detours by soaring migrants shaped by wind regimes along the East Atlantic Flyway” by Wouter M. G. Vansteelant et al. Issued by University of Amsterdam.

Birds of prey let themselves be carried by predictable winds
At the start of autumn, several billion migratory birds take flight for a long, adventurous journey to Africa. How do they manage to complete this difficult journey successfully year after year? To find out, a team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) tracked the behaviour of migrating European honey buzzards using small GPS backpacks. They combined GPS data with meteorological models to show how these migratory birds travel via complicated detours to make use of predictable weather patterns. They do so especially over the Sahara Desert, an inhospitable landscape they need to cross as quickly as possible. Continue reading