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

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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Sarah Hoy wins Watson Raptor Science Prize for paper on impact of selective predation

We are delighted to learn that Sarah Hoy has won 2016 Watson Raptor Science Prize for her paper ‘Age and sex-selective predation moderate the overall impact of predators’ published in Journal of Animal Ecology. In the paper Sarah Hoy and colleagues examined selective predation by goshawks on juvenile and female tawny owls, drawing on long-term data to exploit a unique situation where data from a prey species were obtained over a period of Goshawk increase.


Tawny owl Strix aluco

On the paper Senior Editor Jean-Michel Gaillard said: Continue reading

What is the future of peer review in ecology?

The Applied Ecologist's blog

Peer review is critical to the research process, but is also the subject of much criticism and debate. Review bias, reviewer recognition and the discovery of peer review rings are recent examples of topics widely discussed by the scientific community. Many peer review models and experiments have emerged across scientific disciplines with the aim of improving the review process, often leading to more questions than answers.


At the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, (Liverpool, 11-14 December) we will be holding a panel debate on the future of peer review in ecology where these issues will be discussed by a panel of experts. The workshop will take the form of a BBC Question Time style debate following on from the success of ‘The Future of Data Archiving panel discussion held at last year’s Annual Meeting. This year we have a great panel of experts, covering a…

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What Makes a Good Peer Review: Peer Review Week 2016 — methods.blog

For many academics, especially Early Career Researchers, writing a review can seem like quite a daunting task. Direct training is often hard to come by and not all senior academics have the time to act as mentors. As this week is Peer Review Week, we wanted to provide some advice on what makes a good […]

via What Makes a Good Peer Review: Peer Review Week 2016 — methods.blog

Peer review week: Encouraging collaborative peer review

Journal of Ecology Blog

Post from Managing Editor Emilie Aimé. Check out the methods.blog later in the week for some of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editors’ perspective on collaborative peer review.

It’s Peer Review Week 2016 and the BES journals are celebrating with a series of blog posts on how much we value our reviewers.

Here at the BES we love Early Career Researchers. We give out grants to fund their research and training and development and we run and support several training and outreach programmes to help with the fantastic work they do. (Don’t forget to register for the Early Career Workshop at this year’s Annual meeting). Each of our journals also awards an annual prize for the best paper by an Early Career Researcher.

In this post though, we want to focus on Early Career Researchers as reviewers. The BES journals are very keen to give Early Career Researchers…

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New Associate Editors

Journal of Animal Ecology is pleased to welcome Niels Dingemanse (Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich), Jenny Dunn (RSPB), Andrew Jackson (University of Dublin), Lesley Lancaster (University of Aberdeen), Katie Marske (University of Michigan) and Mariano Rodriguez-Cabal (Universidad del Comahue) to the board of Associate Editors. They have all joined on a three-year term and you can find out more about them below.

Dingemanse, NNiels Dingemanse

Niels is an evolutionary ecologist who works on the interface between behavioural ecology and quantitative genetics. His current research focusses on proximate and ultimate causes and consequences of individuality in average behaviour (‘personality’) and behavioural plasticity, for which he uses wild populations of birds (great tits) and insects (field crickets) as model systems.

Dunn, JJenny Dunn

Jenny’s research interests span a broad range of topics within ecology and conservation, but centre around factors influencing behaviour, and the consequences of behavioural adaptation at both the individual and population levels. She is particularly interested in the sub-clinical impacts of parasitic infection, parasite transmission, the associations between parasitism and behaviour and the implications these may have for populations across generations through delayed life-history effects. Jenny is also fascinated by how multiple stress factors interact in free-living populations, especially those in decline, and the implications these interactions have for the conservation of populations.

Jackson, AAndrew Jackson

Andrew has broad interests in ecology and evolution spanning behavioural ecology and community ecology. His research is primarily focussed around developing mathematical, computational and statistical models to understand the consequences of interactions between individuals and their biotic and abiotic environment. He has no taxa that he calls his own and has recently collaborated on projects involving vultures, turtles and human epidemiology and more and more has been using datasets comprising multiple taxa to draw phylogenetic comparisons. Currently he is working on the evolution of information processing with one hand and developing new statistical methods for stable isotope ecology with the other.

Lancaster, LLesley Lancaster

Lesley is an empirical ecologist interested in understanding how biogeographic processes shape macroecological trait variation, population dynamics, life history evolution, and species interactions. She is also interested in the drivers of and constraints on niche evolution in ectotherms.

Marske, KKatie Marske

Katie’s research integrates comparative phylogeography with other geographical ecology methods to understand historical factors which underlie intraspecific diversification and the formation of species’ geographic ranges, and how these, in turn, contribute to community assembly and the generation of contemporary large-scale biodiversity patterns.  Her research is currently focused on New Zealand beetles and North American amphibians, but Katie has worked with a variety of animal systems.

Rodriguez-Cabal, M compMariano Rodriguez-Cabal

Mariano is a community ecologist with broad interests in the factors that generate, maintain and threaten biodiversity. He uses observational, experimental, meta-analytical and theoretical approaches to understand how the loss of some species and the gain of others influence plant-animal interactions, vertebrate and ant seed dispersers, the diversity and structure of communities, and ecosystem processes.

You can find out about all our Associate Editors here.

Devotion to rearing chicks can come at a cost for migratory birds

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Carry-Over Effects on the Annual Cycle of a Migratory Seabird: an Experimental Study” by Annette Fayet et al. Issued by University of Oxford press office.

Birds that have to work harder during breeding season will feel the effects of their exertions the following year, according to research by Oxford University scientists.

A new study published in the Journal  found that migratory seabirds suffered negative repercussions when they had to spend more time rearing chicks, including decreased breeding success when they returned to the colony the following spring.JAE-2015-00801.R2

Continue reading

Journal of Animal Ecology prize for early career ecologists

Competition_236015_Proof 200x200Both the British Ecological Society and Journal of Animal Ecology have long been champions of research by early career ecologists. Indeed, there are many examples of early career researchers publishing their first papers from their dissertation in the pages of Journal of Animal Ecology. To continue, and hopefully enhance, that tradition, Journal of Animal Ecology is very happy to announce a new award targeted at early career researchers. With this award, we hope to inspire early career researchers working on any aspect of animal ecology to submit reviews or syntheses that might either summarize their dissertation work, provide new insights into classic areas of animal ecology, or might shed light on emerging fields in animal ecology.

Nate Sanders
Senior Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology

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The curious case of turtles and ecological “rules”

Turtles (and tortoises) are among the most outstanding and recognizable groups of animals on the planet. Despite being a relatively species poor clade (only 327 extant species), they are easily recognizable and adored by many (you’d be hard pressed to find any other reptile so heavily featured in children’s toys sections). Ever since the Triassic period, roughly 220 million years ago, they have been a constant and familiar aspect of the earth’s vertebrate fauna, found on all continents barring frigid Antarctica, and easily distinguishable by their unique trait – the bony shell, a derivative of the rib cage that encompasses their entire body and provides them with uncanny protection. At present, however, they are also among the most endangered taxa on Earth, with more than half of extant species threatened with extinction [1].

Continue reading

The colour of survival – how parental morph influences the fitness of the offspring in black sparrowhawks

Most South Africans may have never noticed one of the largest forest raptors breeding in the city of Cape Town – the black sparrowhawk . However a new research project from the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology has hopefully changed this, and is shedding light on interesting aspects of the ecology of this species. Continue reading

Researchers discover complex effects of temperature shifts on both hosts and parasites

JAE-2015-00750.R1This blog post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Host and parasite thermal acclimation responses depend on the stage of infection” by Karie A. Altman et al. Press release issued by Oakland University


While climate change is often associated with global warming trends, it is also believed to influence patterns of temperature variability, with greater and more frequent shifts in temperature from one day to the next. Those temperature shifts could change the way certain species interact with each other. Continue reading

Lethal genetic blindness found in a rare Scottish bird

JAE-2015-00734.R1This blog post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Evidence of the phenotypic expression of a lethal recessive allele under inbreeding in a wild population of conservation concern” by Amanda E. Trask et al. Press release issued by University of Aberdeen

The last remaining Scottish populations of the rare red-billed chough are being affected by a genetic mutation causing lethal blindness, a new study from the University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Chough Study Group and funded by NERC and Scottish Natural Heritage has shown.

Blindness was first observed in a chough chick in 1998 and small numbers of blind chicks have occurred in most years subsequently. Continue reading

Demography Beyond the Population


Experimental population of soil mites Sancassania berlesei. Past environments shape the distribution of phenotypic traits via selection and plasticity. One such trait, individual body
size is commonly used in size-dependent demographic analyses to represent the effect of the environment on vital rates. However, experimental populations of soil mites maintained in different food environments revealed that the strength of body size as a proxy for past and current environmental effects can vary vastly among vital rates (see Brooks et al.). Photo by Marianne Mugabo.

This exciting collaborative and interdisciplinary special feature integrates novel lines of research in the vast field of demography that directly interact with other ecological and evolutionary disciplines.

The goal of the special feature is to highlight the interdisciplinary potential of demography and is further emphasised by the fact that the 21 articles are spread across all six journals of the British Ecological Society.

The goal of the Special Feature is to highlight to both demographers and non-demographers alike that there is much to be gained by linking demography to other disciplines and scales in ecology and evolution.

The Special Feature is based on a British Ecological Society symposium that was held in March 2015 and is the first time all six BES journals have collaborated to produce a joint special feature.

Journal of Animal Ecology has published 4 papers in the Special Feature:

Disentangling correlated explanatory variables

In this paper Brooks et al. discus how the the strength of size as a proxy for past environments varies among vital rates. They quantified this using a novel method for understanding nonlinear relationships between responses and multicollinear predictors. This non-mechanistic model has the strength of being flexible enough to apply in data-limited situations and will be useful for identifying patterns and generating hypotheses.

The evolution of labile traits in sex- and age-structured populations

Childs et al. present a data-driven framework that  has the potential to facilitate greater insight into the nature of selection and its consequences in settings where focal traits vary over the lifetime through ontogeny, behavioural adaptation and phenotypic plasticity, as well as providing a potential bridge between theoretical and empirical studies of labile trait variation.

Opportunities and challenges of Integral Projection Models for modelling host–parasite dynamics

Epidemiological dynamics are shaped by and may in turn shape host demography. Here, Metcalf et al. extend statistically derived population models that explicitly account for variance in individual trajectories commonly used for plant and animal demography (Integral Projection Models) to capture the process of infection and propagate it across scales.

Des différences, pourquoi? Transmission, maintenance and effects of phenotypic variance

In this paper Plard et al. discuss how the influence of phenotypic variation on population dynamics is much higher in short-lived than in long-lived life-histories.

Also in the issue COMADRE: a global data base of animal demography has been published,  the paper that introduces the COMADRE Animal Matrix Database,  find out more in this blog post.

Simon Hoggart
Assistant Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology

A Look Back At 2015 … And A Little Peek Forward

It’s been another busy year at Journal of Animal Ecology, with more personnel changes and a few new initiatives. Here, we review some of these developments.

Papers and other media

Last year was another good year for the journal, with our Impact Factor remaining strong (4.504), ranking us 2nd out of 149 Zoology journals and 24th out of 143 Ecology journals. We continued to publish a number of successful Feature papers, including two How to.. papers, which continue to be extremely popular with our readers. The first, by Marie-Therese Puth, Markus Neuhäuser and Graeme D. Ruxton ‘On the variety of methods for calculating confidence intervals by bootstrapping’ and the second, by Damien Farine and Hal Whitehead, on ‘Constructing, conducting and interpreting animal social network analysis’. The latter was accompanied by a Virtual Issue on social network analysis, edited by Senior Editor Ben Sheldon. We also published a joint Virtual Issue with Journal of Applied Ecology and Methods in Ecology and Evolution on ‘Monitoring Wildlife’, featuring a selection of papers focusing on new methods and technologies for monitoring animals in their natural environments. To coincide with Open Access Week in October 2015, the five BES journals published a Virtual Issue of a selection of our OA papers. We also welcome unsolicited inquiries about potential Virtual Issues, whether you would like to see a particular topic covered, or whether you would like to edit one yourself. Similarly, we continue to welcome other special features including Synthesis, Review and How to.. papers, as well as topical Forum articles, so if you have any ideas, please let us know. Continue reading

Do animals exercise to keep fit?

This blog post is a press release of the Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Do animals exercise to keep fit?” by Lewis Halsey. Press release issued by The British Ecological Society

From joining a gym to taking up running, getting fit is a perennially popular new year’s resolution. We lead sedentary lifestyles and have easy access to energy-rich food, so we need to do voluntary exercise in order to keep fit. But what about other animals? Does a harbour porpoise, perhaps, need to put in extra training to ensure it can out-swim the dolphins that hunt it? Do animals exercise to keep fit?

It’s a question Dr Lewis Halsey of the University of Roehampton ponders in a new paper published today in the Journal. And the surprising answer is that we don’t know – because it is an issue that has gone almost entirely unstudied.

Animals need energy for growth and for locomotion, for attack and defence, and ultimately for reproduction. Yet animals can only obtain energy intermittently by foraging, storing some of it to use later, so the energetic ecology of an animal is fundamental to its success.

As an eco-physiologist, Halsey studies how animals expend energy, and how they adapt their behaviour and physiology to reduce their energy costs. On Sundays he goes running on Wimbledon Common.

“It made me think about my own biology and ecology. If I don’t exercise I get less fit, and am less able to do highly active things. So I wondered if some animals need to spend time and energy on voluntary exercise so that they are fit enough to out-run predators, win over mates or hunt down prey,” he explains.

But when he searched the literature, he found very few studies on the matter. “Researchers haven’t contemplated the idea that some animals may not do enough exercise during their general activities to be suitably fit for infrequent, high-intensity activities such as fleeing from predators. This needs to change,” says Halsey.

His new paper, which he hopes will encourage more research, outlines a set of concepts and the experiments that could be used to test them. But despite the lack of direct evidence, he points to some intriguing animal studies – from polar bears and penguins to giant pandas and barnacle geese – that suggest the answers might depend on an animal’s ecology.

According to Halsey: “We know that animals change their body condition in response to environmental conditions. Songbirds may put on some weight to survive the winter, but not too much if predators are around lest they become slow at escaping. And harbour porpoises, if regularly preyed on by dolphins, become much sleeker and carry less body fat so that they can out-swim their attackers.”

There are examples, too, of animals getting fatter when they have no predators to fear. This could explain why laboratory animals pile on the pounds (even though mice and rats will voluntarily run on wheels provided), and why giant pandas are so sedentary. During the day, giant pandas walk on average just 27m in an hour, but their presumed low aerobic fitness may not concern them because they no longer have predators to worry about.

Other species can maintain key aspects of their fitness without doing any voluntary exercise. In the polar regions, polar bears and penguins burn different tissues while fasting. During hibernation polar bears maintain crucial muscles so that they are still physically strong when they wake up. And while king penguins lose lots of muscle during their fasts on land, they seem to be able to get fit very quickly once they return to sea to fish.

Barnacle geese appear to be an extra special case of getting fit quickly. Some populations migrate 2,500km each autumn from Svalbard to Scotland, yet in the run up to migration they fly for only a few minutes each day – short bursts of flight that perhaps mirror the modern high-intensity training (HIT) regimes human athletes use to boost maximal aerobic capacity.

But according to Halsey: “Barnacle geese appear to get fit for certain predictable, planned events such as migration and yet miraculously seem able to do so with little or no voluntary exercise. So their bodies seem to trigger increased fitness from within – they get fit automatically when they need to – enough to make any human with a waning new year’s resolution to get fit very jealous.”

Finding out more about whether animals exercise to keep fit could have important scientific implications, challenging existing orthodoxy on animal ecology and behaviour, says Halsey.

“If animals are undertaking activities solely or partly to keep fit, this opens up a significant new facet to our understanding and interpretation of animal behaviour. No-one has previously observed animal behaviours and thought ‘this behaviour could be associated with keeping fit’,” he explains.

“On top of this, if indeed some animals have to ‘keep fit’ then the activity involved could burn important energy reserves, which feeds into fundamental ideas of optimality, where animals are expected to expend time and energy in ways that maximise their short- or long-term success.”

For more information contact Dr Lewis Halsey, University of Roehampton, email: l.halsey@roehampton.ac.uk, mob: +44 (0)7779 784523

Dr Lewis Halsey (2016). ‘Do animals exercise to keep fit?’, doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12488

How a Special Feature can help wildlife “Stuck in Motion” – Video post

In an epoch that will likely be remembered as “The Anthropocene”, wildlife is struggling to cope with anthropogenic habitat loss, fragmentation and disturbance. Ancient migration routes are being lost as we speak, and animal space use, behaviour and life history are undergoing rapid changes. “Villy” and his Norwegian wild reindeer pals are extremely wary of human activities, and may be considered emblematic of the challenge of human-wildlife coexistence.

We believe that science can help. The first step is to single out key ecological questions, and to identify the most appropriate technologies and methodologies to answer them. Proper analyses of GPS-tracking data have recently provided scientists with unprecedented opportunities to understand mechanisms underlying the observed patterns and processes of animal space use, and to make inferences and predictions needed to guide sustainable development and support human-wildlife coexistence. Continue reading

The secret life of wild reindeer

This post presents photos from the Special Feature” Stuck in motion? Reconnecting questions and tools in movement ecology ” from the current issue (85:1) of Journal of Animal Ecology


Wild mountain reindeer. Photo: wild reindeer.

Taken from GPS collars equipped with wide-angle cameras, these amazing shots represent an unprecedented window into the lives of reindeer, one of the most ancient deer species in the world. Few people are aware that within the heart of Europe there still exist mass migrations as spectacular but more secretive than those in the Serengeti. Yet, reindeer migrations represent one of the most endangered phenomena in the Northern hemisphere. Wild reindeer are extremely wary of humans, who have been harvesting them since pre-historic times using large-scale pitfall systems. Their anti-predator strategy consists of aggregating in large herds roaming across vast mountain plateau in southern Norway, and avoiding human activities. Following the industrial revolution, the development of anthropogenic infrastructures has therefore led to the fragmentation of the last remaining wild mountain reindeer population into 23 virtually isolated sub-populations, and has hampered/blocked migration routes used since pre-historic times. Due to the increase in tourism, hydropower and other human activities in mountain areas, fragmentation is rapidly ongoing. Continue reading

When does ecology of fishes became fisheries research?


World fisheries day, celebrated today aims to draw attention to the poor status of many fished species as a consequence of overfishing, habitat degradation, global warming, and pollution. Clearly, we stand far from the key objective of fisheries management, that is, to regulate fishing such that in the long term harvesting is sustainable. Less political and more science-based management has frequently been called upon as a solution and ‘ecosystem-based fisheries management’ is a term often repeated, but rarely implemented. In fact, a recent study by Skern-Mauritzen et al. (2015) showed that out of 1200 reviewed fisheries, ecosystem-based drivers were only accounted for in 24 cases. Continue reading

Bugs collected on rooftop for 18 years reveal climate change effects

This blog post is a press release from the authors of the Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Resource specialists lead local insect community turnover associated with temperature – analysis of an 18-year full-seasonal record of moths and beetles” by Thomsen et al. Press release issued by University of Copenhagen

Horse-chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella) and acorn weevil (Curculio glandium) Photo credit: Jens Kirkeby (above) and Klaus Bek Nielsen.

Horse-chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella) and acorn weevil (Curculio glandium) Photo credit: Jens Kirkeby (top) and Klaus Bek Nielsen (bottom).

A volunteer registration of insects for 18 consecutive years on the Copenhagen roof of the Natural History Museum of Denmark has revealed local insect community turnover due to climate change. The research suggests a pattern of specialised species being more sensitive to climate change.1543 different species of moths and beetles and more than 250,000 individuals have been registered on a single urban rooftop in Copenhagen over 18 years of monitoring. That corresponds to 42 % of all the species of moths in Denmark and 12 % of the beetles. More interestingly, the insect community has changed significantly during that period. The results are published in the Journal of Animal Ecology led by researchers from the Center for Geogenetics and the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen.

“As temperature increases we see a corresponding change in the insect community, specifically for the resource specialists – the insects that feed on only one species of plant. Earlier studies have confirmed that specialist species also respond rapidly to destruction of their habitats, so we are dealing with a very sensitive group of animals” says one of the lead authors postdoc Philip Francis Thomsen from the Center for Geogenetics. Continue reading