Welcome to our new Associate Editors

Journal of Ecology is thrilled to welcome four new Associate Editors. Jane Catford (University of Southampton, UK), Han Chen (Lakehead University, Canada), Emily Farrer (Tulane University, USA) and Julieta Rosell (UNAM, Mexico) all join the Editorial Board and you can find out more about them below.

Jane Catford

Jane Catford

Jane is based at the University of Southampton in the Environmental Biosciences Research Group. Jane’s research centres on community assembly and invasion ecology. She is particularly interested in how environmental, biological and geographic factors affect the functional composition of plant communities. Current research foci include the causes and consequences of invasion; species invasiveness and ecosystem invasibility; the role of human activities in facilitating invasion and vegetation change. Her work covers both the practical and theoretical aspects of biological invasions and native vegetation restoration. She has ongoing field experiments in Australia, the US and UK, and mostly conducts field research in grasslands, wetlands, rivers and riparian ecosystems. While rooted in community and invasion ecology, her work extends to succession, species coexistence, disturbance, ecosystem restoration, vegetation management, novel ecosystems, assisted colonization, river health, impacts of flow regulation and climate change. Continue reading

What do reviewers want?

Animal Ecology In Focus

Last year’s Peer Review Week proved to be a great success in raising awareness and starting discussions about peer review. This year, it’s back and the focus is on recognition for review.

There have been lots of surveys looking at perceptions of peer review. These surveys agree that peer review is valued and authors feel that the quality of their paper improves as a result. Nature’s annual author survey shows that after the reputation of the journal and relevance to the discipline, the quality of peer review was the third most important factor driving author’s choice of where to submit their article.

For Peer Review Week 2016, I thought I’d take another look at these surveys to see what they tell us about recognition for reviewing activity. I’m concentrating on three big surveys that were carried out in 2015 by Wiley, Taylor and Francis (T&F), and the Publishing…

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Trees may acclimate to drought, but not to warming, in semi-arid systems

Charlotte Grossiord et al. have an interesting paper recently published online in Journal of Ecology, entitled ‘Precipitation, not air temperature, drives functional responses of trees in semi-arid ecosystems‘. The scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory provide evidences that trees in semi-arid systems may acclimate to reduced precipitation but not to temperature rise. Charlotte kindly agreed to share the main findings of the study through the blog post below. 

Pierre Mariotte
Blog Editor, Journal of Ecology

Chalotte.pngCharlotte Grossiord received her PhD from the University of Lorraine and INRA-Nancy (France), supervised by Damien Bonal, and co-supervised by Arthur Gessler from the WSL Institute (Switzerland). The main focus of her project was to determine how tree species diversity affects the water relations in European forest ecosystems, with a particular focus on how it affects the resistance of trees to drought stress. Charlotte conducted her PhD as part of a large FP7 EU project FundivEUROPE. After her such research, Charlotte moved to the United States where she is currently a Director’s postdoctoral fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Her research focuses on tree acclimation processes in response to the combinations of precipitation reduction and warming. Specifically, she is interested in physiological and structural adaptation of vegetation to climate change such as for instance responses in carbon assimilation rates, water and nitrogen use, growth allocation and water extraction depth. Continue reading

Peer review week: Encouraging collaborative peer review

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 reviewing opportunities. Reviewers occasionally ask us whether they can share a review with their students or lab members as a training exercise and our answer is always an emphatic yes. Continue reading

Peer Review Week 2016 – Thank you to all our reviewers

As this week is Peer Review Week 2016, Journal of Ecology would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has reviewed a paper for us.


The event is organised by a number of different publishers and scientific organisations in order to celebrate the practice of peer review and the vital role it plays in the maintenance of excellence within the scientific and scholarly communities. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Recognition for Review’ and you can take advantage of many activities such as webinars, videos, interviews and social media activities, as well as view different online resources on the Peer Review Week website. The aim of the event is to further advance our understanding of the importance of peer review, in whatever form, and explore the different ways we can recognise reviewers for their time and effort across all peer review activities. Continue reading

Root Ecology Makes the Olympics

In this last interview from the EcoSummit2016 conference, Gerlinde De Deyn talks about plant-soil feedbacks in agricultural systems, and how outcomes of fundamental research can be used to improve farming practices and move toward more sustainable food production. Gerlinde also talks about the importance of raising awareness about soil and to inform the public, farmers and policy makers about what is in the soil and how it works. She recently initiated a crowdfunding campaign to produce a film that will enable viewers to watch soil life and plant growth simultaneously. A few similar movies are already available on Youtube (see one below), and one video on root growth, even made it to the video opening of the last olympic games in Rio (Brazil). Listen to Gerlinde talking about this in the podcast below. Continue reading

The Soil and its Diversity of Organisms: Actor of a Sustainable Future?

As mentioned in a previous blog post, ‘Belowground Ecology’ was an important topic of the EcoSummit2016 congress that was held two weeks ago in Montpellier, France (Corum, Aug 28th – Sept 1st). During the conference, I had the chance to meet with many leading soil scientists and invited three of them to talk about soil – Richard Bardgett, Marcel Van der Heijden and Gerlinde De Deyn. Continue reading

Insights into the EcoSummit Congress 2016 on Ecological Sustainability – Engineering Change

The 5th International EcoSummit Congress, hosted by INRA and IRD, and organized by Elsevier, took place last week (Aug 28th – Sept 1st) in the Corum in Montpellier, France. I believe that everyone enjoy coming to the South of France for a conference, especially in Montpellier in summer. Indeed, the conference brought together around 1400 lucky scientists from 75 countries. The city of Montpellier, which was founded in 985, is organized as a labyrinth of narrow streets that hide a multitude of restaurants and bars, as well as various squares hosting entertainment every night (music, dance, acrobats, etc.) – truly amazing! 


Blue sky in Montpellier for the EcoSummit 2016 congress! (credit: A. Vitra)

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Drought history affects plant and microbial C turnover after a subsequent drought event

In this new video, Lucia Fuchslueger presents the findings of her recent study, published in the last issue (September) of Journal of Ecology, and titled ‘Drought history affects grassland plant and microbial carbon turnover during and after a subsequent drought event‘. This study was part of Lucia’s PhD project on the effects of Climate Extremes, particularly of extreme droughts, on mountain grassland carbon and nitrogen cycling, funded by the Austria Science Fund. The video is available below and can also be found on the Journal of Ecology YouTube channel (english subtitles available).

PicsLucia Fuchslueger received her PhD from the University of Vienna, supervised by Andreas Richter, and co-supervised by Michael Bahn from the University of Innsbruck. The main focus of her project was to elucidate how single and multiple extreme drought events affect the turnover of recently assimilated C within plants and its allocation to below-ground plant compartments, as well as the availability for the soil microbial community, and potential feedbacks for plants. After her PhD research, Lucia moved from temperate grassland systems to the Amazon forest. She is currently working at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil, as part of an international team of researchers studying the effects of elevated CO2 on tropical rainforests (Amazon FACE). Her research focuses on plant-soil interactions, and on microbe mediated processes in soils. Specifically, she is interested in microbial dynamics during litter and organic matter decomposition, the effect of nutrient availability on C sequestration, and the responses to changing environmental conditions.

Pierre Mariotte
Blog Editor, Journal of Ecology

The Quest for Predicting Plant-Soil Feedback

A new study from the Department of Soil Quality at Wageningen University and the Department of Terrestrial Ecology at Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) gives evidence that plants grow better in soil from other species. Published today in Journal of Ecology, the paper is written by Cortois et al. and is titled ‘Plant-soil feedbacks: role of plant functional group and plant traits. 

Authors Roeland Cortois and Gerlinde De Deyn have described below their inspiration behind the study and the significance of their work in the understanding of plant-soil feedbacks and their role in plant communities.

It all started with a simple question which we asked ourselves several years ago: can plant-soil feedbacks explain overyielding in plant species rich communities? 

First of all we aimed to figure out whether plant-soil feedback (PSF) is actually occurring at a measurable and relevant scale and whether feedback sign (positive, neutral or negative) and strength are predictable from plant traits. Considering the growth versus defense trade-off hypothesis, we expected plant species with more acquisitive traits to build-up more negative feedback, whereas species with conservative traits would build-up more positive feedback with their own soil biota.

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